Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Standing Behind Our Firefighters

Seasonal wildland firefighters have returned to protect approximately 16 million acres of Oregon's forest.  Trained and ready they respond with red lights and sirens (when authorized) to keep wildfires small and controlled within a day.  The seasonal firefighters are the backbone on the wildfire firefighting force.

Behind them is everyone else.

Employees from State Forest Management, Administration, Resource Planning, Private Forests, Urban and Community Forestry, and others in the Protection from Fire Program provide the support and sometimes complete the wildland firefighting work initiated by the seasonal firefighters.  Our strength in wildfire suppression comes from everyone being in it together, either by directly helping with the firefighting effort or filling in for others.  It is time to pack your fire bag and gather your field gear together.  A tent, sleeping bag and foam pad are available from the Department upon request if you do not want to use your own.

Seasonal wildland firefighters, a whole bunch of us have got your back.

ODOT Coalition Tentative Agreement Reached on 6/18/2013

A tentative agreement was reached on issues important to ODOT Coalition members at 12:15 am on 6/18/2013.  The last issue to be decided was the Union's proposal for more flexibility for Seasonal Employees to carry over accrued vacation leave to concurrent seasons.  The Union's proposal did not succeed and current contract language prevails, where Seasonal Employees who have "back to back" seasons that start and end within 17 days of each other can carry over 40 hours of vacation leave.  Some other conditions apply.

For the Forestry Local there were improvements in the Work Capacity Test and recognizing geotechnicial specialists who hold professional licenses with a differential.  Other proposals like recognizing the  Forestry Office Staff at South Fork with a differential for  their work located in a correctional facility was less successful.

This was a bargaining session for night owls.  Looking for agreement with the State of Oregon and our coalition partners ODOT, DMV, ODFW, and State Parks kept us at the table beyond midnight for at least 4 days and once until 3:15 am.  A special thanks goes out to Forestry bargaining delegates and other interested members who shared that time include John Seward, Jim Neuman, Doug Firoved and Dave Wells.