Brothers and Sisters,
Having finished 2011 with a new contract and Executive Board elections, we have been working diligently on the proper implementation of the new articles that we negotiated. The first and most important was the transfer of existing sick leave hours in to the extended bank, secondly we had to make sure that the pro-rated hours were correct, and thirdly we had to make sure that those members that have not used any sick leave since November 1, 2011 would still be able to sell back the full yearly allotment this November if eligible.
There have been questions on the difference in the amount of the yearly payout for 40 hour personnel. The reason that there is some confusion is because the conversion formula for 40 hour personnel on the sick leave payout is 8.57 times accrued sick leave times hourly wage.
There have also been questions on the lack of pension contributions on the yearly payout. At this time there are several interpretations on this issue. Our intent is to adhere to and enforce the language that was agreed upon by both parties. We will remain actively involved in this process and keep you informed of any new developments.
The new Shared Sick Leave Article allowed us to assist one of our members that is appealing his case to the Texas Workers Compensation Commission. Brother Wyatt Schmidt had been on leave without pay since May of last year and with this new article, the Executive Board approved the shared leave at the January Executive Board meeting. Brother Schmidt received a check last pay day.
In order to better serve the membership, I have identified two issues that need immediate attention. Issue number one is our internal communication. In light of this, each board member has been assigned a battalion and will act as a liaison between the Executive Board and the membership in that battalion.
More importantly, we need to address the issue of membership in our association. As a result, we have created a Membership Committee that will be reaching out in an effort to increase membership. Currently, we have approximately 700 members who pay the freight. I know that this is a touchy subject but it is one that we cannot ignore. We as fire fighters are seeing full out attacks on our collective bargaining rights, as well as our pensions, all across the country. There is good information that an assault on our pension is coming during our next legislative session in Austin in 2013. There is strength in numbers and we need to unite not only here but all across the state.