Sunday, October 22, 2017

Stewards Conference, Sharpens the Sword

Stewards stand up and stand out in our workplaces and SEIU 503’s biennial Stewards Conference allowed for reconnecting, sharing stories and training to improve skills.  Micki Varney a Steward representing ODFW employees summed up the reasons why she and many Stewards take on the responsibility the willingness to help others, seeking a sense of fairness, and looking for social justice.

In the classes that I took Making a Good First Impression, Information Requests, and Putting it all into Practice, skilled organizers shared their skills in holding an effective 15-20 minute orientation, what information can be requested to support a grievant and some grievance meeting role playing.  The world changes but the need to be supported and join together to solve worksite problems doesn’t, and we were reminded that “everyone in this room is the Union, really our Union”.  “Go ahead and start filling out your membership forms”.

Contact your Steward first and if none is available contact the Member Resource Center phone number 1-844-503-SEIU and e-mail:

Next Contract Enforcement training, SEIU 503 Salem Headquarters, 1730 Commercial St. NE, Salem begins Friday November 3rd 5:30 - 8:30 P and continues Saturday November 4th 9:00 A - 4:00 P. Register online:

Next Sub-local 629 Forestry Statewide meeting, January or February 2018 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Ready and Not Called to Fight Wildfire

It was surprising how many people when asked if they worked on any of the big fires in Oregon did not raise their hand.  Many wanted to go, packed and ready, with open task books, but for one reason or another were never called.  One reason is that work duties at their site of employment, Salem or in the field, have completion deadlines to meet meet Program responsibilities.  Another is that picking out that one person you know would be a good fit for the job at hand was not an available option. There is another reason that we as employees should be able to discuss, availability.

Under current policy when you say you are available to fight a wildfire you are committing to a 14 day hitch.  The Program you are working on also has to be willing to see you gone for two weeks.  Not everyone has 14 completely open, consecutive, unplanned days within Oregon summer’s short 12 week run. Year after year.  It seems like there are other availability models to try, like 3 or 5 day surges, get in, help and go home.  If you have stories about what a reasonable assignment might look like and what prevented you from participating in Oregon’s wildfire season please let me know.

Our next Forestry Sub-local Statewide meeting will be Saturday, October 21st from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. at the Salem Convention Center, 200 Commercial Street SE.