Sunday, November 9, 2014

Forestry is Part of the ODOT Bargining Coalition, Meeting November 15

Forestry Local 629 is part of the larger ODOT Coalition when it comes to contract negotiations and bargaining with the State of Oregon.  On November 15, 2014 the Coalition will meet in Salem at the Red Lion located at 3301 Market Street NE from 10:00 A to 2:00 P.  The purpose of the meeting will be to review Bargaining Surveys for contract proposals and identify supporters for proposals developed at our Statewide Meeting in The Dalles.

Contract proposals generally are not made public until they are handed across the negotiating table.  If you would like to keep updated on the proposals please let me know.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Forestry Statewide Meeting, The Dalles


The Forestry Local held its Statewide meeting on October 25th in The Dalles.  It was a full meeting covering a variety of topics, following is a summary of the decisions and next steps.

Legislative Proposals: Concept proposed to allow employees who receive seasonal Police and Fire retirement benefits  to be permitted to contribute year round into their P & F account.  Plan is to get on a PERS Board Meeting agenda and make the initial proposal there.

Bargaining: This was the scoping phase of the bargaining proposal process where ideas were brought forward for further consideration.  Kent Stanford from Washington Public Forestry Employees joined us by phone to share their concepts.  From the discussion there is common ground in Oregon and Washington.  Our proposals will be re-evaluated on November 15th at the Salem Red Lion from 10 am to 3 pm when we meet with others from the coalition.

 Bargaining and SEIU 503, The Big Picture: "In it Together" will be one of the tenants of our contract campaign. We have legitimate reasons to get a fair contract.  Did you know that about 12% of our bargaining unit makes less than $15/ hour and 31% is topped out.  There will be more emphasis on the jobs you do and how your work touches Oregonians everyday.

Change in By-Laws, How Stewards Are Chosen and How They Can Be Removed: Our By-Laws, last revised in 2012, did not have much about Stewards which these changes should correct.  The proposal was discussed, changed, adopted and is presented here:

Section 4. Union Stewards.  Union Stewards shall attend steward meetings;
handle grievances through the steps within the agency; work closely with the
Union Organizer in the handling and investigation of grievances; serve as a main
communication channel between Union leaders and staff; is a primary provider
of direct services to the Local members.

Stewards will be chosen from the work unit they seek to represent as defined
by the collective bargaining agreement between SEIU 503 and the State of
Oregon.  The nominee must be a union member and the work unit have an
un-filled Steward position available. An announcement of the Steward election
shall be posted for at least 10 calendar days, in a public place like the Union
Bulletin Board specifying the candidates name and date and time of the
election.  At the time of the election, prior to voting, there will be a call for other
candidates and the voting will be by secret ballot.

The newly selected Steward shall inform the Forestry Local President and SEIU
503 Statewide Forestry Organizer of their selection and meet training
requirements as set forth in SEIU 503 by-laws within one calendar year.

Stewards may only be removed from their position by the Local's elected
leadership following this process.  Five members who are represented by
Steward may petition the Local's leadership to remove their Steward.  Local
leadership will consider the petitioner's request using the following criteria:
Stewards activity in the Local; if training requirements were met and if there
was continued training; and the testimony of the petitioners and Steward.
Steward removal requires an affirmative vote to remove by at least three
members of the Local's Statewide Officers.

Sitting Stewards are encouraged to re-establish their position on a season by
season basis.

Representation When a Steward is Not Available:  The primary source for employee representation in the workplace is the Steward.  When a Steward is not available the person seeking representation should contact the next closest (adjacent) District and failing that the SEIU 503 Member Resource Center.  If a Steward cannot be identified the Vice President should be contacted.

Budget:  Our Locals budget was approved.  Highlights include funding of four Statewide meetings, training opportunities and Elliot State Forest hats.

Next Meetings:

ODOT Coalition Bargaining, Saturday, November 15, 2014, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm,
Salem Red Lion.

Forestry Labor/ Management, first week in January 2015, Salem ODF

Forestry Statewide in conjunction with Stewards Conference, February 2015


Friday, October 10, 2014

Update of By-laws Concerning Stewards Planned at Statewide Meeting

Our by-laws are not in conformance with SEIU 503's concerning Stewards.  While the general duties are included, how a Steward is selected and how they can can be removed are not defined.  Stewards need to be accountable to the co-workers they represent as they not only handle grievances through appropriate channels but also serve as the main communication channel between members and management, Local leadership and staff.  Respect and trust of a Stewards ability to fairly represent the member is key to their ability to resolve problems.

A revision of our by-laws regarding Stewards is an agenda item at our Statewide Local meeting set for October 25th in The Dalles.  Members who have an interest in this issue are encouraged to attend either in person or by conference call.

Reminder Statewide Meeting, October 25

This is a reminder that our next Statewide Forestry Local meeting will be October 25th in The Dalles.  A postcard with additional information is being mailed soon and has registration and how to arrange lodging if needed.  RSVP is requested if you are attending or need lodging by October 22nd to make sure the room can be set up for our use.

If you cannot attend but would still like to participate a conference call number has been set up which is available from Mike Bray @ 503-610-8004 or Dave Wells @ 503-801-8468.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Please Help Me Welcome, Mike Bray Our New Organizer

Please help me welcome Mike Bray our new Forestry Local staff organizer.  You can learn more about him and his past Union experience at our next Statewide Local meeting, October 25th in The Dalles.

If you would like to contact Mike before then he can be reached at cell 503-610-8004 or desk 503-772-5772.  His e-mail is: braym@seiu503.org


Friday, September 26, 2014

Statewide Forestry Meeting, October 25, 2014

Save Saturday October 25 for our next Statewide Forestry Local
 meeting to be held in The Dalles.  More information will be coming, but agenda items will likely include bargaining concepts, a look at how our by-laws address Steward selection and dismissal and the general state of our Local.  The president of Washington State's forestry employee union may also be attending.

Time from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, meeting at Cousins Restaurant 2114 W 6th St., The Dalles.  A call-in option will be available.  Lunch and breaks provided.  They have great cinnamon rolls.

Remember to save October 25th.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Seasonal Employees Should Know These Three

The fire season is still going strong with temperatures in the 90s predicted and Red Flag warnings, but the season will end and here are some things to be thinking about when it does.

Unemployment Benefits: There was a revision to our employee handbook dated March 2014, that discusses unemployment benefits.  Unlike the private sector, benifits paid to state employees are dollar for dollar and not a percentage of payroll earnings.  Your work time must be accurately reported (start and end dates) to the Employment Department.  Willful misrepresentation can result in disciplinary action up to dismissal.

Electronic Pay Stubs: This came up at Labor/ Management, a paper pay stub is not automatically produced with each paycheck.  There are many reasons where that paycheck stub needs to be shown, like in a rental agreement or applying for a loan.  Get them while you are still at work.  Avoid the hastle and extra work it will cause the office staff to get them printed after you leave work.  Again, get them while you are still at work.

When Your Season Ends:  According to our Contact "A seasonal employee shall be given at least 10 calendar days advance notice of the end of the season, except when conditions are beyond control of the Agency".  This seems fair as generally contract language attempts to do.  If this is not being held to I would like to know.

Thank you so very much for keeping so many of the fires small and being the true professional firefighters that you are.