“Why should I be in my Union?”
I have been asked this question many times in my career. It is not a new question. Members throughout the last century have wondered the same thing. But as a testament to the 104 years of success, the reasons are very clear; our union is a stabilizing force for our members and their families. Our collective voice has made the lives better for thousands of Local 55 firefighters and the next 100 years stands to do the same.
Our union is formed for one specific purpose; to protect and enhance the wages, benefits, and working conditions of all Local 55 members. This cannot be done alone. A singular voice is just that. Drowned out by the noise and rhetoric of those wishing us harm, wanting to take your hard earned benefits, and willing to impact the security of you and your family.
We are hearing this noise at all levels. Questioning our unions purpose, its involvement politically, and preying on our members apathy due to years of successes. Members who have no idea about the hard fought battles won for us before any of us took our oath. This is what our foe’s want, divisive issues that highjack the conversation and push people away from our union and our unity. This Union must not allow ourselves to fall to these tactics.
The success of our Union is tangible compared to those in right to work states and in the private sector. We have the right to collectively bargain our wages, benefits, and working conditions. If you are a firefighter in Virginia, collective bargaining is illegal. Our defined benefit plan under CalPERS is one of the largest pension plans in the world, providing a lifetime of security for our members and their spouses. Ask the San Diego firefighters about losing their pension in lieu of a 401K defined contribution plan. Have cancer, heart disease, Covid, hernia, lung issues, or PTSI? Those are all presumptive, meaning, the burden of proof is on the employer, not you. Are the Firefighter Bill of Rights important to you? Do you enjoy the fact your job provides inherent property rights and due process before you can be disciplined or terminated? Be glad you don’t work in North Carolina where the employer can fire a firefighter at anytime for any reason. Want to ensure your retiree medical benefits are protected for life, make sure they are vested. Exactly what your Union just provided!
These are only a fraction of the benefits and successes we enjoy today. Many provided by those who came before us and planted those seeds to allow us to enjoy their shade. And these successes are not given and not due to a singular voice. It is our collective voices in the halls of power, over and over again proving why our Union matters. And don’t for a minute begin to become complacent to our successes. Look no further than the state of Wisconsin. A labor friendly state, that removed many of the same protections we enjoy today with one election cycle and one bill from the Statehouse signed by the Governor.
Our political environment is as divisive as ever. This has resulted in members feeling like their own values are not being addressed or considered by their elected leaders, especially in the communities we serve. But the role of your Union is to advocate for firefighters, period. Our Union is a single-issue lobbying group. We will fight like hell to ensure our members voices are heard and those in power know what we expect. And for those elected officials who stand with us, we will stand with them, regardless if they are in a non-partisan city council race, a Democrat in a state assembly race, or a Republican in a Federal race. I hear from members “I don’t want my union dues going to politicians I don’t support”. My response is always, do you contribute to FirePAC? 100% of the time, it’s, “no”. FirePAC is the political arm of the IAFF. The only money that is contributed to Federal candidates if through this volunteer political action committee. These contributions are also bi-partisan. While much of the contributions are to Democrats (because they vote on our issues) there is much money contributed to Republicans as well. Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnel, and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy received IAFF FirePAC money in the 2020 election cycle. In fact, there are many other republicans who support firefighters and as such, are supported by FirePAC.
Every decision made for the members of Local 55 is done so by a person who is elected to office. I have said for decades, why would we not want to be involved in guiding those decisions that have such an impact on our members and their families? In politics you win some battles and lose others. That is the nature. Local 55 supported Gary Singh for City Council in Union City. It was a decision that was made after much work to vet Mr. Singh. Ultimately he made a motion and voted to close Station 30. Clearly a political loss for Local 55. But, we made a huge statement when our members took to the streets to oppose the Public Safety Parcel Tax to teach the elected officials a lesson. That measure lost miserably. A strong, united messaged, we will be a force with the electorate.
There are also massive wins politically for our members. The fact that today, no members of Local 55 have lost a paycheck, been placed on admin leave, or terminated due to the Covid mandate is 100% due to the political activism of Local 55 leadership. Individual letters and phone calls to the Board of Supervisors are just that, a singular voice often pushed aside for the next letter or caller, but when Local 55 speaks on behalf of our 350 voices it moves the needle.
Our retiree medical benefit was not a fair system. We paid different amounts based on your rank and had different benefits based on your hire date. No equity at all. Under our new contract we achieve just that. Fair, equitable, and vested. These are achieved due to our political influence. Of the 10,000 employees in Alameda County, 350 have a vested retiree medical benefit, Local 55 members only! There is a reason why, political activism.
The fact is, money is the holy grail in politics. I know many of our members despise politics and the money involved with it. I also know many of our members do not align with the political ideology with many candidates here in the Bay Area. But this is the landscape we work in and every member of Local 55 made a choice to work here. Our reality is we work in a very progressive, mostly Democrat, labor friendly environment. This is the bench of elected and prospective elected officials we work with. Local 55 does not dictate who runs for these seats, but we work with those who are willing to serve their communities and your Union educates them on the work you do every day to ensure their support.
So, If you are not paying into our Local 55 and ACFFA Ballot Issues PAC, why not? If you dropped out recently re-activate your $10 per month contribution for each. A very small price to pay to give your Union the tools it needs to fight for you and your family. Why handcuff your Union when it comes to our ability to support a political candidate that will support you?
We have many members who step up and do the work to ensure the success of Local 55. I thank each and every one of you for committing to our successes. But also, we have many members who are silent and invisible. So ask yourself, are you engaged with your Union? Do you participate in our events or walk for a political candidate? Do attend General Membership meetings or are you a member that collects your paycheck and benefits and heads out the door? Are you a member that sits in the comfort of your firehouse and criticizes those willing to put in the work? We will never agree on everything, but there is every opportunity for each member of Local 55 to be involved and use your voice. There are 350 of us. If each member picked up a shovel and did just a little bit, imagine our potential for continued success. Everyone is busy, everyone is getting hit with mando, and everyone has family and personal commitments. But as I have said to this membership and each recruit class beginning with 2014; don’t be a member that participated in 30 events during your probationary year, be a member that participates in one event for 30 years!
Local 55 is a respected and powerful Union. Not because we are great firefighters. Because we are engaged and active at every level of power and in our communities. Never forget the power of our united voice. Never let those detractors divide us and break our unity.
This is your Union. These are your wages. These are you benefits. Fight like hell to keep them and make them better.
September 15, 2021 Vaccine Mandate Update
September 15, 2021
Brothers and Sisters,
Over the past months, the topic of vaccinations has dominated our fire stations and the conversation throughout our country. This topic was evident during our August General Membership meeting when well over 100 members participated in shaping an unmistakable message for many of our members, demanding the right to make a choice for themselves about being vaccinated.
Your Executive Board has been engaged to articulate our message to each decision-maker at the Local, County, State, and Federal levels. We have been steadfast to ensure our message is unambiguous, that Local 55 members have the choice to provide proof of vaccination status or agree to test for Covid-19.
Local 55 has received notice to meet and confer regarding vaccination status; this is the beginning of our process. This marks the official start of our bargaining to fight for our members and their right to provide vaccinations or choose a testing option. This is our overarching goal, and we will work tirelessly to negotiate and argue our points to ensure the county policy is fair and reasonable. While the draft county policy has indicated a vaccine mandate by November 1, 2021, it does not mean the policy will be finalized with that language, and we intend to ensure it does not.
Local 55 has sent our response letter to meet and confer over the change in working conditions as indicated by the county.
So, what happens now? Your negotiation team will begin to meet and confer over the impacts of this policy, and we are working on securing dates to begin. These negotiation impacts will include testing options, timelines, processes, exemptions, antibody status, progressive discipline, and others. This is not a comprehensive list.
There is still much that is unknown. Any changes or impacts from the Federal or State government can change things and impact our bargaining at the county level. Local 55 has not had any outreach regarding any Federal mandates regarding Federal contract workers. OSHA is writing regulations that could or could not impact our members. It is too early to tell with any certainty.
There will be much more information to share moving forward. This is a very challenging time for all, and know that your leadership team is working daily to ensure our member’s voices are heard, and we are fighting to carry that message directly into the bargaining room.
August 2021 Presidents Report
Brothers and Sisters,
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact our communities, our emergency responses, and now, our profession in ways not seen before. Your executive board has been working diligently to keep abreast of the trends occurring all around us. As I write my update, things are changing quickly, there are many unanswered questions, but the one thing that appears certain is that vaccine mandates are a real thing.
Today (Aug. 10), there have been no mandatory vaccination orders given by Alameda County Public Health or any ACFD contract cities. The order given earlier this month by Governor Newsom excluded firefighters, paramedics, and EMTs.
The information I am sharing is the most up-to-date and accurate information we have obtained. Note, this may change quickly, and your union will respond immediately to any mandate provision by any government body associated with ACFD.
The IAFF, CPF, and Local 55 have all taken the same position. LOCAL 55 DOES NOT SUPPORT MANDATORY VACCINES AND SUPPORTS MEMBER FREE CHOICE. We have heard from our membership very compelling arguments about vaccination concerns, including members who want to have a child, members who have recovered from Covid-19 and have some level of natural immunity or antibodies, and other legitimate issues.
What Do We Know:
Your leadership has been meeting with leaders within the IAFF, CPF, legal counsel, including IAFF General Counsel, Chief McDonald, and elected officials, working to find solutions and options to meet the needs of our membership who choose not to receive a vaccine. The ability of our members to make their own choice about the vaccine is our number one priority!
Our challenge legally has been none of the employee lawsuits and adjudicated cases involving covid vaccines have favored workers. The courts continue to rule in favor of workplace protections and the ability of employers to mandate the covid vaccine.
While the courts are not ruling in our favor, it does not mean we are without rights. Any proposed change in working conditions will be immediately met with a demand to meet and confer. This will set the stage to discuss and bargain over the impacts to our members.
Two reasonable accommodations are being issued with most of the vaccination mandates. A genuine religious objection or belief and a medical exemption. Both of these exemptions will require members to provide some level of documentation for approval.
We also know we are not alone. Across the nation, public and private sector workers are dealing with mandates. Legal challenges are in play in many states, and our leaders are watching for any information that would prove helpful.
What We Don’t Know:
There are more unknowns than knowns currently. As I mentioned, Local 55 has not been noticed by the County or any contract city of a mandate for vaccination. We are also not naive to what is happening in San Francisco City/County, Santa Clara County, and Contra Costa
County. Each of these counties has issued mandatory vaccine requirements and mandatory compliance. Should an employee refuse, progressive discipline, up to termination is listed.
It is uncertain if a mandate is issued how it will work. For example, would it be mandatory for vaccinations, would testing be allowed for members who wish not to take the vaccine, would antibodies have a role to play? These issues will all be part of impact bargaining and would be addressed, including many other items of concern to our members.
These are very challenging times for whatever perception you have. I am so proud of our executive board and principal officers for taking the time to get informed and share information with our members. Each member needs to ensure you are doing your part by being involved and staying up to date on the latest news your union is putting out.
Please check the website frequently. A Covid-19 page has been established. You will find PERB rulings, IAFF Zoom info, and a conversation with IAFF DVP Steve Gilman, Brother Michael Sheridan, and me regarding the latest information.
Please stay engaged, stay informed, and get involved
May 2021 Presidents Report
Brothers and Sisters,
Local 55 has begun negotiations for our next MOU. Your executive board and negotiation committee anticipate this to take significant time as we work through the process. Thank you to all our members who took the time to attend the general membership meetings, zoom district meetings, and our polling opportunities and to provide thoughtful and meaningful ideas for consideration. Every single item mentioned was compiled and discussed during our executive board retreat in April. These items were pared down to just over 40 items of interest, and those items were voted on recently during our internal polling.
Now the time has come for the negotiation committee to put in the work and build our strategy for a successful process and an MOU that our members will support.
The negotiation team is determined mainly by our constitution and bylaws. The elected principal officers, our political director, plus two members appointed by the President make up the committee. I am proud to announce Brothers Phil McMullen, and Eddie Dutch-Storey have been appointed to our committee. Your team has begun our preparation in earnest, and moving forward, there will be no communication about the process or progress to protect the integrity of our negotiations.
CPF President, Brian Rice Visit
Recently, CPF President Brian Rice, CPF Secretary / Treasurer Mike Lopez, and CPF 4th District Vice-President Vince Wells visited Local 55 to talk with members about statewide issues and answer questions directly. The meeting at Station 17 was a great opportunity to hear from our leadership in the state.
One of the essential and primary discussion items was the position of CPF regarding the governor’s recall election. As President Rice stated, CPF is a No on the recall.
President Rice took the time to state the position of CPF is derived from the ten pieces of legislation signed into law by Governor Newsom. These bills provide protections for California firefighters, like Covid-19 presumption, important new programs for Community Paramedicine, and prohibit private companies from dispatching public firefighting units.
President Rice made it very clear that CPF was in no way telling our members how to vote on the recall, rather, he wanted to ensure our members are armed with information about the recall and should our members choose to vote with their pay, benefits, and working conditions in mind, there is one person who has shown that level of support, Governor Newsom.
As a reminder, beginning July 1, 2021, payroll will be changing to 26 pay periods per year. These pay periods will be biweekly, every other Friday.
As the transition occurs, there are some important dates to remember:
Holiday pay included
Educational Incentive, Q-clearance Stipend, Uniform Allowance
Last paycheck of 24 pay period
Separate check for overtime worked between June 23 and June 30
First bi-weekly pay – Includes pay for Educational Incentive, Uniform Allowance, and Q-clearance stipend rolled into 26 pay periods
April 2021 Presidents Report
April Presidents Report
Brothers and Sisters,
It is hard to believe we are already into Spring of 2021. The year is moving incredibly fast, and with each day, we inch closer to beginning our negotiations for a successor contract to our current extension that expires December 31, 2021.
I truly hope members have taken the opportunity to provide input and use your voice to identify issues that are of interest.
Beginning last year, a standing agenda item has been in place to start the process of hearing from members about negotiation items. During the December 2020 general membership meeting, I laid out our plan to engage our members and hear directly from you!
In 2021 there have been eight zoom meetings providing opportunities for members to voice your concerns and offer your opinions. In mid-April, our general membership meeting will be another opportunity to discuss our issues.
In late April, your executive board will participate in our retreat to plan for the next year and beyond. Much of our time will be spent on reviewing all the ideas, thoughts, concepts, and requests for items of negotiations. This review will result in a paired down list of wants that will be presented to our membership in the form of a poll.
Once the meetings, reviews, and polling are complete, your negotiation team will present a package to the county in July 2021. This will begin our negotiations in earnest with a clear direction of what items this membership views as the most important.
Once negotiations begin, we will not be able to discuss progression or provide updates until the process is complete, so please use the opportunities to communicate with your union to ensure your issues are heard.
EMS System Redesign
The EMS System Redesign process is well underway. Virtual meetings for both the main committee and multiple sub-committees have been occurring for many months.
Recently, Local 55 signed onto a letter from all fire based Union Presidents that was presented to the EMS System Redesign Committee Chair. This letter requested analysis of a JPA model and options for the fire service to participate and potentially bid the EMS system. This analysis is complex with many unanswered questions. Local 55 is playing a significant role in ensuring the fire service is a driving force for any changes to our EMS system in the county.
Meet and Confer Items
At the time of this writing, your executive board is finishing the third meet and confer with the county. Once the final agreement is reached on the last item, your executive board will be presenting each of these items in their totality to this membership. We will schedule multiple Special Meetings to review in detail each of these items for our membership to vote on. Many meetings and hours of negotiations have occurred to bring solutions to these items that have importance to our membership. The three items that will be presented are as follows;
Probationary Firefighter Program and Timeline Security Clearance OAG
CalPERS Audit items
Please take an opportunity to attend one of the virtual Special Meetings that will be announced in early April and ensure you fully understand the information being presented.
Finally, Local 55 and the ACFD will begin the process of establishing a new Strategic Plan for the ACFD. This will be a great opportunity to provide input for our department’s direction for the next decade.
Please make every effort to participate in this critical next step for the future of the ACFD. In Solidarity,
January 2021 Presidents Report
Happy New Year
As we happily put 2020 in our review mirror, we look forward to the hope of 2021, bringing all of us positive changes and a light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel. I sincerely hope every member had a safe and happy holiday season and are looking forward to 2021.
ACFFA Toy Program
I want to start my report with an acknowledgment of the ACFFA Toy Program. Led by Brother Markus Powell, this group of Local 55 members pulled off a fantastic feat under challenging circumstances. This year, the need for toys and holiday support was more extensive than ever. The pandemic made receiving and giving physical toys a significant challenge as well. Those challenges were overcome head-on by Brother Powell and his amazing team of volunteers.
This year the Toy Program raised over $14,000 in direct donations to provide gift cards to kids throughout the county and thousands of toys donated to our valuable community partners.
Thank you again to the Toy Program team leads and all the members who took time out of their lives to make a difference in our communities.
Team Lead: Markus Powell
Area Toy Leads: Battalion 2: Speth, Padilla Battalion 3: Cardnell, Vargas
Battalion 4: M. Powell, Forni
Battalion 7: Munoz
The dramatic surge in Covid-19 infection rates, ICU admissions, and lack of capacity has pushed our statewide hospital system to the brink in many areas. Many hospitals are so overwhelmed with the number of patients and lack of staffing, requests through the Office of Emergency Services have been made for assistance from the California Fire Service. As is so common, our members have again stepped up to help communities in need. As of this writing, Local 55 has four members deployed out of county. Members are assisting the community of Los Banos and their impact from Covid-19. Reports for our members are so encouraging. The staff is so appreciative of their assistance, and the need is real. I am so proud of this membership for the outpouring of members willing to help with this need. We will wait to see if there will continue to be requests for assistance, and if so, I know this membership will be there at a moment’s notice.
The coronavirus has also impacted local 55. We have had many positive members and a large number of members required to quarantine. Please support each other, and if you’re feeling sick or showing any signs or symptoms, please stay home. While many of our members have recovered and returned to work, many IAFF members have not been so lucky. This virus ravages the body, and for some, it is fatal. Please stay safe and look out for each other.
The vaccine roll-out in Alameda County is progressing with Phase 1a population being offered the vaccine. Approximately 50% of our membership has decided to get the vaccine. Alameda County has received about 53,000 doses with 7,500 vaccines given as of January 14, 2021.
This year your negotiation team will begin the process of negotiating a new contract for our membership. Your executive board will be rolling out a series of opportunities to get involved, share your ideas, and give the team input.
In January and early February, District Reps will be hosting Zoom calls to listen to the member’s ideas. Please reach out to your Rep and get dates, times, and zoom links to attend. Many districts are combining to help the process.
In March, we will have two Special Meetings to give this membership another opportunity to offer ideas and to hear about the thoughts shared during the district Zoom meetings.
In addition to these opportunities, each General Membership meeting has an agenda item for negotiations that will remain and allow for added discussion.
There have been some questions about the process and how negotiations work. Here is an overview of information as well as some important dates:
◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦
◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦
The ACFFA negotiating team is defined in the ACFFA CBL
The negotiating team uses a professional negotiator to assist in each meeting and the overall process from start to end.
Timelines for the negotiation process are outlined in Appendix D of our MOU Once a tentative agreement is reached, the TA is brought to the membership Special Meetings will be scheduled once a TA is announced
This membership will vote to accept or reject the TA as presented
If accepted, the Board of Supervisors will then meet and vote to accept the TA as well.
June 14 – Select arbitrator
July 4 – Last date to exchange written demands
August 3 – Begin negotiations
October 2 – If items on the table have not agreed upon, arbitration will commence December 3, all aspects of negotiations, including arbitration if needed, will be completed
Congratulations to Vice-President Baldwin and Secretary-Treasurer Agustin on their election by acclamation. Both of these leaders work tirelessly for the membership of Local 55. I appreciate both of them and their dedication.
I also look forward to seating our new members of the Executive Board in April. We all will look forward to a better 2021!
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.