September 2020 Presidents Report
To the men and women of Local 55 – THANK YOU!
This edition of the Fire News is dedicated to our amazing members and their families during these extraordinary times.
2020 has been a massive challenge, in so many ways, for each and everyone of you. I want to recognize this membership for stepping up and showing our communities we serve and those throughout the state just what being an Alameda County Firefighter is all about.
In February / March of this year your leadership started to hear about a new virus called Covid-19 and started to learn all we could about any impacts to our profession. In March, I attended a briefing from the IAFF about the impacts a Local was having in Washington State and what would become the epicenter of this new virus. It was becoming apparent, California would not be spared.
Your leadership began to work with our Administration to formulate an IAP using the guidance of the CDC and IAFF to ensure our members safety and proper procedures where in place.
This membership took over from there. Local 55 members stepped up with dedication and professionalism and ensured all of our citizens are cared for each and every day. The challenge during the early days of the virus, not knowing how the virus spreads, what precautions needed to be taken and making sure we care for each other inside the fire stations was outstanding.
While the pandemic still continues to spread in California, we have a better understanding how to protect ourselves, to limit exposure and prevent impacting our families.
Remain vigilant and continue to protect yourself and others. Please know your Union is here to support and provide any needs you our your families may have.
As if Covid was not enough challenge for us all, fire season began this summer and it has been one to remember. When the SCU Complex began nobody would have anticipated it would become one of the largest in California history. This fire that started in our own backyard and has burned for weeks.
Our members again answered the call. At one point, this membership supported nearly 60 additional assignments both in county and throughout the state as well and ensuring each apparatus was fully staffed 24/7.
Again, it shows just how committed each of you are to making sure our communities are protected and safe. 21+ day assignments, multiple OCMA deployments, challenges of apparatus failures, our own members homes being impacted and families evacuated, this membership never flinched and rose to each and every challenge presented to it!
And when each of you are staffing an engine in Southern or Northern California or in one of our fire stations, the other heroes are your families and support systems at home. They provide the support for each of us to do what we love, they go without while ensuring things are handled at home. Thank you to each of our families! Everyday they sacrifice and it does not go unnoticed.
My desire is to express my genuine gratitude and appreciation to each and every Local 55 member for everything you do each and every day. Thank you for the long OCMA assignments, the weeklong tours, and hours and hours of always answering the call! My hat is off to each of you.
In sincere appreciation,
April 2020 Presidents Report
Brother and Sisters,
We are currently living in an unprecedented time dealing with a global pandemic that reaches far and wide including Alameda County. The most important role your Union plays during these challenging times is to ensure the safety of our members and their families. We know each and every day our members are on the frontlines provided exceptional service to our communities and putting your own safety at heightened risk due to the virus. Your Executive Board appreciates all the work our members are doing and understands the toll it takes on this membership.
Local 55 is working with all stakeholders to make sure our members have the proper PPE, contingency plans and support to protect our members. In the event one or more of our members tests positive, we are continually working to ensure the best information and practices are being followed.
On March 17 the Alameda County Board of Supervisors took unprecedented action to aid their employees including Alameda County Firefighters. The boards action created a new leave called COVID-19. This allows members to be off duty and not impact their personal leave balances should they test positive, feel ill or need to take care of a loved one at home. This generous benefit from the Board of Supervisors will end on April 7 and will not be extended.
Additionally, members who are working during the identified timeframe will earn hour for hour accrued leave, COVAL, to be used during a two year period. The use of COVAL leave will be determined by the Board of Supervisors at a later date.
Congress passed legislation assisting local and county governments with additional benefits and processes. Local 55 is working with Alameda County HR to understand these new regulations and how they apply to our members. There are roughly 120+ new regulations.
Local 55 understands the challenges many of our members are feeling right now, including, financially. Members are impacted with spouses being furloughed, battalion based overtime limiting working opportunities and additional stresses at home caring for family members. Your Union is in discussions with our administration to find ways for members to obtain additional financial assistance. Options being discussed include selling back COVAL leave, selling back vacation with no stipulations or parameters or early holiday checks. As of this writing no final decisions have been made but all members will be updated as soon as possible.
Many questions are being asked about our Tentative Agreement with the County regarding our MOU. In late February we reached a TA for an extension for 18 months. There was some small details that needed to be finalized on “clean-up” language but all the principle items were complete. Local 55 announced two special meetings on March 25 / 27. Due to the Governor’s order on social distancing as well as Alameda County’s stay at home order the special meetings had to be canceled. The Alameda County Human Resource department has been overwhelmed and it has taken much longer for them to provide the language changes required for “clean-up” than expected.
As of this writing Local 55 believes the final documents will be obtained in early April. Once your team has everything prepared a process will be implemented to get the TA to the membership. It will include the roll-out of the following information :
Video presentation of the TA
Summary sheet of agreement
In-person meetings with Local 55 leadership will also occur in stations to assist with answering questions and discussion. After the membership has the opportunity to digest the information and additional information will be supplied for clarity if needed.
Because of Stay at Home orders we are not able to have special membership meetings to present this information in person to a large group. Your Executive Board will do everything possible to ensure each member has as much information to make an informed decision.
Beginning April 1 your new Executive Board has been set. Please take an opportunity to find your District Rep. They are here to assist in communication with your Union and to support in any way possible.
District 1 (Stations 9,10,11, Training) – Jess Anderson
District 2 (Stations 12, 13, 22) – Jeremy Roderick
District 3 (Stations 23, 24, 25) – Nate Mar
District 4 (Stations 6, 7, 26, Unassigned Probationary Members) – Matt McAusland
District 5 (Stations 16, 17, 18) Aaron Lee
District 6 (Stations 20, 21) Eddie Dutch
District 7 (Stations 27, 28, 29) – John Hill
District 8 (Stations 31, 32, 33) – Ted Duarte
District 9 (Stations 34, 35, 19) Brian Brooks
At-Large / Social Media – Brian Centoni
Political Director: Josh Leines
Retiree Rep: Eddie Silveria
ACFFA Trustees: Eddie Dutch / Mike Sheridan
Alameda County Labor Council Rep: Michael Blair
President: Sean Burrows
Vice-President: Joe Baldwin
Secretary/Treasurer: Mike Agustin
Advisory Board Chair: Dave Huang
B-Group Rep: Brad Argenbright
In these difficult times it is more important than ever to come together, support each other and stay united. Your Union is here for you and your families every step of the way and for any need.
Please stay safe!
Presidents Report January 2020
Happy New Year to all Local 55 Members –
As we reflect on 2019 and prepare for 2020, it is good to give this membership an update on some of the more important issues and challenges Local 55 will face moving into the new year.
Supervisor Elections –
For the first time in nearly 25 years, an election for District 1 Supervisor will be contested. Supervisor Scott Haggerty will be retiring. Four candidates have entered the race for the March primary. While Local 55 has relationships with three of the four candidates, Local 55 has partnered with other public safety labor unions and have endorsed Melissa Hernandez. Melissa is a current council member in Dublin and has the support of all but one (Fremont Firefighters) public safety unions in District 1.
Supervisor Miley and Carson are also running for re-election. Supervisor Miley has a challenger for his seat and of this writing Local 55 has NOT endorsed in his race and has not given any monetary donations. Supervisor Carson also has a challenger and Local 55 has not endorsed in this race either.
Union City –
During our General Membership meeting in December, members asked a number of great questions and your executive board presented the latest information regarding the Station 30 closure.
Local 55 executed a information campaign for both the citizens and elected officials immediately after the July vote by the Union City council to close the station. This included the following actions:
- Immediate meetings with all stakeholders (POA, SEIU, Alameda County Labor Council, Union City staff, Union City council members)
- Develop video using CPF Firestar Productions. This video has been targeted to Union City Residents only using social media and has been viewed over 100,000 times!
- Develop flyers and informational talking points for members to use to walk neighborhoods in Union City and inform citizens of the councils decision
- Built a website with petition for residents to sign with hundreds of signatures to date
- Held 4 member walks for Local 55 members to participate and help educated the citizens
- Produced ballot language for a Safe Staffing Measure for citizens to use their voice to ensure proper staffing levels in Union City for the November election
- Established the ACFFA Ballot Issues PAC – This member driven Political Action Committee is for Local 55 ballot issues only. As of this writing, Local 55 members have committed over $111,000 to ensure Local 55 has the resources to be effective politically
- Multiple meetings and outreach to media including TV, op-ed’s, newspapers, and others to inform the media of the decision of the council
Local 55 also organized a final opportunity for the Mayor and council to rescind their decision. In late November, Local 55 with all of labor represented, led by the Secretary of the Alameda County Labor Council met with Mayor Dutra-Vernaci. Unfortunately, Mayor Dutra-Vernaci was not willing to rescind the decision of the council but she stated in the meeting that “Station 30 is a luxury”.
This meeting was the final opportunity for any level of compromise with the City of Union City.
As discussed at the General Membership meeting, members made it very clear that there could be no support of the Public Safety Parcel Tax (Measure U) for the March ballot.
Emeryville – The good news about the March election is the 1/4 cent tax measure on the Emeryville ballot for staffing in the city. This would include 3 additional firefighters, for one four member company in Emeryville should the measure pass.
County Bond – The Board of Supervisors has placed a nearly $100 million Bond for infrastructure for all county stations.
Your Executive Board is putting together the final plan for the March Primary as well as the November election. ALL MEMBERS ARE NEEDED TO ENSURE SUCCESS OF OUR PLAN!
Be sure to read messages from your executive board, ask questions of your District Reps, and help out when asked. Nothing will be accomplished without our members help!
Local 55 is beginning the process for negotiating our next contract. As stipulated by our MOU, an arbitrator has been selected. Buddy Cohen will be serving as the arbitrator should impasse be declared after bargaining.
During the December 20th General Membership meeting, a robust discussion was held about items of interest and desires for our next MOU.
Bargaining will begin on Feb. 1, 2020 and continue thru April 1, 2020. Should no agreement occur or the board refuse to ratify an agreement, mediation will commence with Arbitrator Cohen immediately.
Local 55 will adhere to the strict timelines of the MOU and ensure no overages of timelines occur.
Elections will occur in January for the following positions:
Advisory Board Chair
For all elections except the President, electronic voting will occur using our normal methods for elections.
For the position of President, a ballot box election will occur. I have established an Elections Committee being chaired by Vice-President Baldwin. East shift will have a representative that will carry the ballot box to each station. The schedule for voting will be as follows:
Jan 23/24 – B-shift voting will occur – Brother Chism will carry ballot box
Jan 25/26 – C-shift voting will occur – Brother McAusland will carry ballot box
Jan 27/28 – A-shift voting will occur – Brother J. Gonsalves will carry ballot box
Between Jan. 29 thru Feb. 3 the ballot box will be at Station 24 for members to vote in person.
If you have any questions please contact the Elections Committee
As each member can see, Local 55 has no shortage of work to be done. Please find time to ask questions, be informed, and play a role as an engaged and committed member of local 55.
Your Executive Board is wishing each member a happy and prosperous New Year!
Presidents Report – December 2019
As the year winds down, I wanted to take an opportunity to discuss two important items within our membership. Communication with our members and the important question of “what has my union done for me”?
Communication is defined as the act of sending and receiving information. Everything we do in the fire service is based on communication and as often discussed after fires and serious incidents, communication is often the most challenging aspect that we face.
This is no different within our union.
I have made it very clear to the executive board members over the last six years that communication is the number one priority for our membership. I have requested our District Representatives to be an information conduit to the members in their districts. Our reps have done a great job of ensuring information is available, but sometimes members still feel that information is lacking.
Communication is a process that involves a commitment from both sides. Local 55 is committed to continuing and in some aspects improving communication moving forward. This also means that members need to play their part in the communication process.
Each time an issue comes to the forefront your executive board takes action to ensure each member has all the available information. This is done in multiple forms.
First, each month during our executive board meetings, considerable time is allotted so in- depth discussion and understanding occurs. Each district rep has all the information to provide to their districts and is expected to provide a report to each district member via email.
Six times per year Local 55 has General Membership meetings. Members will be on duty for two meetings per year. This leaves 4 meetings, one per quarter, for members to attend. The business of the union is conducted at the General Membership meetings and it is vitally important for all members to find an opportunity to attend. While attendance varies based on time of year and topic, having less than 10 members attend a meeting is unacceptable. It becomes challenging to ensure members have all sufficient information when members choose not to engage and attend General Membership meetings.
When topics are of importance, members receive emails from your Union. This written correspondence is another opportunity for members to help educate themselves with the latest information. I have heard the following from members recently, “I receive so many emails that I just delete most”. While your union understands the impact of too many emails, this level of communication is important to ensure each member has the most complete information and members take time to try to read each and every Local 55 email.
Local 55 also uses our text message feature to advise members of important dates, walks, votes that are open, and updates. Again, it is important for members to ensure your phone number is up to date in the Local 55 database so you can get text messages when they are sent out.
You union also has been implementing video use. The Local 55 Youtube channel has all the videos that have been produced so members can see visually, information that is important to Local 55 and our membership.
Your Local 55 website has had a complete makeover. This has provided a completely new user interface as well as updating our members databases. The website has substantial information regarding many issues including our meeting minutes and the message board that is member driven to get and receive information.
The Local 55 social media presence is robust. You will find detailed information about incidents, upcoming events, member information and our closed Facebook page is available to all Local 55 members.
Finally, each member gets a copy of the FireNews quarterly. This newsletter is another great opportunity for Local 55 members to get updated and factual information.
As you can see there is substantial opportunities for each member to be engaged. I respectfully ask to please stay up to date and take the time to understand the issues of the day. The best resource for our members to become informed is to use your District Rep. These elected members are wanting and willing to discuss and answer questions any member may have. Never hesitate to contact your District Rep for your informational needs.
In the future your union will be looking to expand our opportunities to reach our membership. Facebook Live and live streaming of meetings are just a few options that will be considered moving forward.
“What has my union done for me”?
Another question that comes up frequently is what is Local 55 doing for me? Your union is here to serve this membership and ensure our wages, hours, and working conditions are the priority.
Your Principle Officers and Executive Board work daily to ensure your union is operating at the highest level possible. Some of the highlights over the last year include the following:
- Your union has represented multiple members who have been identified as subjects and dozens of witnesses during administrative investigations ensuring our members rights are adhered to and the process of investigation is a fair one.
- Local 55 works every day to ensure our MOU and policies and procedures are followed and when they are not the proper actions are taken. Local 55 has filed numerous grievances this year to hold our administration to account.
- Finalizing the Roth 457 option for members to diversify investment opportunities
- Implemented changes to Overtime Call-In OAG that allowed for personal exemptions to make mandatory overtime fair and equitable to all members
- Organized training for members to assist with behavior health and peer training to support members in need. Assisted members with attending IAFF Center of Excellence, including providing scholarships to assist in their recovery
- Brought Code Compliance Officers into Local 55 to provide them representation and won arbitration case to ensure their membership in Local 55 A-group
- Worked at the state and federal level to assist in passing legislation to help firefighters and EMS systems including Alameda County
- Local 55 highlighted the corruption at the LEMSA level and has been instrumental in ensuring the current EMS System Re-Design process is fair and transparent
These are just some of the highlights that your union is doing for our membership and the laboring class within our county and state.
There is so much more that your Executive Board is doing every day on behalf of you and this membership.
It is an honor to be able to serve Local 55. Each and every member of your executive board appreciates the privilege provided by this membership.