November 18, 2008
Brothers and Sisters,
The change in the extra board procedure has created a heated issue among the membership and is yet another blow to morale. The Chief brought up this change when the department was trying to create three captains positions one in Standards, one in FPD, and one in Communications. Deputy City Manager Bill Studer wanted the Association to trade for these positions since they would benefit the membership. The creation of these positions would occur due to the deletion of three fire medic positions that were never filled before the consolidation and are still on the books. Deleting these positions would pay for two captains and the captain at Communications would involve an upgrade of the Administrative Lieutenant to captain. The Chief asked us to sign off on the changes to the extra board procedure as well as the requirement of a doctor’s note for sick leave use on the weekend.
Article XII, Section 1. “For the duration of this Agreement, an Extra Board shall be maintained with a procedure to be established by the Chief.” The language in the contract allows the Chief to establish the policy due to the fact that a member, “volunteers his service to be paid at one and one-half (1 ½ ) times the employee’s regular rate of pay” as stated in Article XII, Section 3. There was no need for us to sign off on something that the Chief was allowed to do, as far as the sick leave change, it was pulled off the table for now. Mr. Studer did not approve the additional captain’s positions at this time but I am sure that this issue will come back up in the future.
There are rumors that Station 34 will be closing and Ladder 11 being moved due to the economy and the projected budget shortfall. We are prepared to address this if and when it comes up. At this point, it is a rumor but we will keep a close eye on this.
The use of sick leave from Thursday to Monday is also a concern for the Department due to the tight budget. The City Manager is also very concerned and has asked the Chief to address this issue. With approximately 120 members with little or no sick leave on the books and the fact, that only 80 members benefited from the sick leave incentive program shows that the policies in place are not working. The change in the extra board policy came about in an attempt to address the sick leave use. The Chief may start requiring a doctor’s note for sick leave on the weekend and we will have to fight him on this. I believe that these changes will not work and will make the problem worse.
What do we do? I think that we need to put together a true sick leave incentive that includes the ability to cash in sick leave if it is not used. Other departments do this and we will need to look into these programs. Offering a bonus may be the way to go. I informed the Chief that the late two day was a sacred practice that was taken away and may be contributing to the problem. He has tentatively agreed to allow late two days as long as they are requested by 2000 hrs the day before.
The paramedic/rescue burn out issue is still a problem. There was a committee created to address this and offer suggestions to address the problem. The recommendations have been sitting on the Chief’s desk for a couple of months. One suggestion is going to be implemented in the form of a pilot program to temporarily remove the function of three paramedic pumpers and reassign paramedics to be able to swap between the pumper and the rescue every shift. This will be an attempt to try a quick fix until we are able to certify enough paramedics to properly address the burn out.
The transitional duty policy was grieved and we are trying to work out a solution before proceeding to arbitration. We will be meeting with City Legal later this week to discuss a possible solution.
I would like to welcome the new members of Class 78 to Local 51. We received 100% participation as far as membership. Congratulations. I would also like to thank you for your continued support. Now more than ever, we need to unite as a membership, as proud members of IAFF Local 51 which was organized in 1918 as one of the charter locals of the IAFF. We have maintained continuous affiliation for the last 90 years and Local 51 is the lowest number in the state.
Please feel free to call me or any one of your Executive Board members if you need any assistance or have a concern. We work for you the membership.
Joe Tellez, President
IAFF Local 51