65-2 #46 June 09, 2011

Union Issues


1. Next Union Meeting June 16th, JFK International Hotel
REMINDER: As previously announced on the Meeting Notice to all firehouses and Delegates, the next Union Meeting date has been re-scheduled for Thursday, June 16th, at the JFK International Hotel (Formerly JFK Holiday Inn) located at 144-02 135th Ave. Jamaica, NY 11436.

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2. UFA Election
Ballots were mailed to each member's residence on May 26 by the American Arbitration Association (AAA), and must be returned to the AAA by 9am on Monday, June 13. Military members serving active duty and not residing in their NY residences may vote via the internet, in accordance with the UFA Constitution. Election results will be announced on June 13th after the ballot count is completed. Ballot tabulation at the AAA will be conducted under the oversight of the UFA Election Committee, as per the UFA Constitution. The Committee consists of representatives from each borough who are listed HERE. Those elected will take office effective August 1, 2011.

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3. Police & Fire Public Safety Alliance--VSF Update
The UFA/PBA's Fire & Police Public Safety Alliance continues to combat Mayor Bloomberg's outright lies and misinformation campaign to adversely influence the public and elected officials about police and fire pensions and the Variable Supplement Fund (VSF). We have used our resources to educate our elected officials and the media regarding issues that affect Firefighters and Police Officers, including press conferences, political lobbying and paid advertising. The Chief Leader week of June 10th article, "Mayor's Battle to Stop VSF Payments Fizzle" by Mark Toor, reports: "Six months after it began, Mayor Bloomberg's campaign to stop the payment of Variable Supplements Fund benefits to current and retired uniformed workers appears to have failed. No home-rule message has been introduced in the City Council, as would be required for the State Legislature to make the changes necessary to cancel the annual $12,000 checks. And with the Legislature's session close to an end, there is no sign that any Albany lawmaker is willing to introduce a bill." The remainder of this article attached. Visit the UFA Homepage, for the latest updates.

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4. Firehouse OOS Notification System Forms Needed! - 100+ Companies Still Needed!
The UFA's Mobile Media Firehouse Out-of-Service Alert System, which was demonstrated at the UFA Delegate Education Seminar, cannot go live until all Delegates return their company cell phone number lists. If you have not done so, fax your list immediately to UFA Recording Secretary Joe Miccio at 212-683-4359. This will enable any member of your unit to have the UFA send instantaneous warning notifications to your local elected officials--without a trace back to the individual sender. The system is unable to recognize messages from your unit unless your unit members' cell numbers are uploaded. See attached list for all companies that have not returned their form yet.

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5. Deutsche Bank Hearings Suspended Until June 14th
REMINDER: There will be no hearings for the Deutsche Bank trial through June 14th. Please immediately contact any members of your company who were planning to attend on any of these days. After June 14th, the hearings will continue, Monday to Thursday each week, at 0930 hours in Manhattan, at the Supreme Court, 100 Centre St., Part 94 on the 15th floor. Members are permitted by the Department to wear their Class A uniforms to this trial. In accordance with Department regulations, members in uniform may not speak to the media without the Department's permission. Members of course can attend while wearing other attire identifying themselves as Firefighters. As always, all members are reminded to maintain the professional deportment the public has come to expect from us, in accordance with all Department rules and regulations.

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6. Steve Cassidy on TV re Firehouse Closings
On Friday, June 3rd UFA President Steve Cassidy was interviewed on several networks to kick-off the beginning of our City Hall rally against Firehouse closures. He has also appeared on CBS 2 and NY1 on May 19th, News 4 NY and PIX 11on May 16th and May 9th on WPIX/Ch. 11 and WNYW/Ch. 5, regarding the Bloomberg Administrations proposed cuts to the Fire Department, which includes staffing reductions and fire house closings. To see these interviews and others go to the UFA homepage.

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7. Brooklyn Bridge March & City Hall Rally to Save Firehouses
The UFA and UFOA would like to thank all efforts put forth by the members for the large turnout for our joint 'Save the Firehouses' march over the Brooklyn Bridge and City Hall Rally on June 3rd. 1,000 members marched over the bridge and estimated 10,000+ Firefighters, Fire Officers and civilian supporters filled up the rally area along Broadway from Barclay Street all the way up to Chambers Street. Speakers included the presidents of the UFA, UFOA, IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger and scores of New York's elected officials, including New York State Assembly members Nicole Malliotakis, Richard Gottfried, Peter Abate, Speaker Sheldon Silver; State Senators Diane Savino, Eric Adams, Anthony Avella, Martin Malave Dilan, John Sampson, Martin Golden; Borough Presidents Scott Stringer and Marty Markowitz; City Council Members Elizabeth Crowley (Fire & Criminal Justice Chair), Diana Reyna, Domenic Recchia Jr, Annabel Palm, Letitia James, Gale Brewer, James Vacca, James Oddo, Daniel Garodnick, Daniel Halloran, Margaret Chin, James Sanders, Erik Dilan, Leroy Comrie, Maria del Carman Arroyo, Deborah Rose, Brad Lander, Robert Jackson, Vincent Gentile, Karen Koslowitz, Joel Rivera; Citywide Elected Officials Comptroller Bill Thompson and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Extensive favorable media coverage was generated as a result of the great turnout by the membership and all our supporters.

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8. UFA Radio Ad Campaign
The UFA launched its second hard hitting radio commercial on May 24th to draw attention to Mayor Bloomberg's attempt to close 20 fire companies which respond to and protect 80 neighborhoods across New York City. The campaign titled, "6-8 Minutes Left to Live" appeared on eight leading New York City radio stations. Visit the homepage to hear the ad.

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9. Firehouse Rally Lists
Upcoming firehouse rally lists continue to be faxed to all units, emailed to all Delegates and posted on the UFA website as the dates/times locations are announced. Check the UFA website for the latest confirmed rally dates and locations. Rallies will be continually updated on the UFA website events calendar. Rallies have already been held for E-205, E-60, L-161, E-328, L-53, E-161, E-294, L-104, L-128, E-157, E-306, E-218, E-220, E-271, E-4 and E-70.

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10. Firehouse Closings & City Budget
The mayor's budget proposal, which was released Friday, May 6th, officially recommends closing 20 fire companies. The Wall Street Journal reported the next day: In previous years, the council has swatted down the mayor's plans to close fire companies. But the mayor on Friday said he doesn't believe it would be "practical" to restore all of the fire companies he plans to shutter. "Maybe we can protect some," he suggested. The mayor and the council are expected to finalize a budget by the end of next month.

WNYC reported: Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano said he will be looking to allies on the Council for some kind of restoration: "If we close 20 companies, response times will certainly go up even though we are doing a great job and reduced them. In many different ways they will go up." Cassano said he has not yet identified which fire companies will be closed. For the last three years, the Council has been able to ride to the rescue, but this year the demands on their discretionary budget will be unprecedented.

WCBS 880 reported: Mayor Bloomberg's proposed $67 billion spending plan could force 20 fire companies to close. Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano's only response is that his companies just won't get to fires as quickly. "The response time goes up; it takes us longer to get there to work the fires. The only saving grace is in the areas that we are potentially going to close fire companies response times are low in those areas. They're below the city average," Cassano said. Cassano said they've done a great job at reducing response times, but with 20 companies closed; those times will "certainly go up."

Steve Cassidy radio spots on WINS, WFAN, WWRL, WOR, ESPN-Radio & WNYM: The Mayor has said time and again he wants agencies to do more with less. New York City firefighters are doing just that. Last year, we responded to more emergencies than ever before. The last seven (7) years have been the busiest in the Department's history. The Mayor already has slashed the Fire Department budget 9 times! Any additional cuts will compromise public safety.

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11. Heat Index for Signal 10-51
The summer heat is upon us. When the Heat Index ('Feels Like' or 'Real Feel' temperature) is 105 degrees or more, a Signal 10-51 is mandated, in accordance with Fire Prevention Manual Chapter 3, Addendum 2. The Heat Index is reported by the National Weather Service (NWS) hourly and is also regularly reported in the media as 'Feels Like' or 'Real Feel' temperature. Exact current 'Feels Like' temperatures (Heat Index and also Wind Chill Index) can be found on the NWS web site at www.srh.noaa.gov/zipcity.php by entering your zip code. The UFA homepage also has a weather link to obtain this info. Your on-duty Officer is responsible to make immediate notifications to the Battalion whenever the 'Feels Like' temperature warrants a signal 10-51 and it is not given over the teleprinter.

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12. Roster Staffing Case Update
On March 29, 2011, a Pre-Hearing Conference was held at the Office of Collective Bargaining (BCB) before this Agency's Deputy Chair and its General Counsel Steven DeCosta. At this conference, which was held on the record, the UFA set forth its arguments concerning the elimination of the 5th Firefighter on all Engine companies. The UFA argued that the City failed to negotiate the specific terms of the Roster Staffing Agreement and also argued that the City failed to address the negative safety impact caused by its unilateral decision to reduce staffing. Mr. DeCosta's role at the conference was to determine what issues in this case require a hearing and whether or not there were any preliminary issues which would require an interim decision by the BCB. One such preliminary issue concerned the interpretation of specific language contained in Paragraph 11 of the roster staffing agreement.

The City has defended against the UFA's improper practice and safety impact charges by claiming that the current roster staffing plan is essentially the same as the roster staffing plan proposed by the Department in 1989. In order to rebut this false claim, the UFA may seek to introduce the actual testimony given by at least one of the City's witnesses in the 1989 hearings. By letter dated April 29, 2011, the UFA formally advised the BCB, and the City, that it would seek to introduce the complete 1989 testimony of former Deputy Commissioner Gary Dellaverson, as well as the complete 1989 testimony of former Chief Homer Bishop. As of today's date, the City has not responded to this letter. The UFA anticipates that the BCB will either issue an interim decision on the case, or an order granting hearings. We have requested to file an information request on the City after that decision or order is issued, so that the UFA can prepare for the future hearings. We will keep the membership apprised as this case moves forward.

Delegates are reminded that that the 1996 Roster Staffing Agreement is located in the Contracts & Agreements Chapter of the Delegates Manual.

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13. Riding Under or Reduced Staffed? - Fax the 'Starting Tour Understaffed' Form
It has been documented on numerous occasions that units have been ordered to start the tour while riding understaffed. Per AUC 287, any engine or ladder riding with fewer than 4 Firefighters (3 or less) is understaffed. A ladder riding with 4 Firefighters is defined as a Reduced Staffed Unit. This occurs most frequently on the night tour immediately following Company Medicals or Annual Education Day, and also after a member is injured late on any tour. Units are placed in service while awaiting details. This is not only in violation of staffing requirements in AUC 287 (and also Dept Regulations 17), it is endangering Firefighter and civilian lives. NOTE: In accordance with OSHA (Two-In Two-Out) and Dept Policy, Understaffed Unit personnel responding to fires are not permitted in IDLH areas under most circumstances, unless teamed up with additional arriving unit members or if an imminent known life hazard has been found.

Fax the Form: The UFA is filing a grievance and needs your help documenting violations of AUC 287. If your Engine is ordered to ride Under Staffed (3 or fewer FFs) or Ladder Reduce Staffed (4 FFs) at the start of the tour, fax the 'Starting Tour Understaffed' Form attached and your Officer's Unusual Occurrence Report (if available) to the UFA, Attn: Joseph Miccio, Recording Secretary, at 212-683-4359. Immediately notify the UFA if any Firefighter or civilian is seriously injured due to this staffing reduction!

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14. Understaffed Unit Injury Reporting
Any member who becomes injured in the Line-of-Duty while working in an *Understaffed Engine or Under/Reduced Staffed Ladder is requested to notify your Delegate. The Delegate or another member of the unit should fax a copy of the Officer's Unusual Occurrence Report (if prepared by your Officer) and any additional pertinent information to the UFA at 212-683-4359 or 212-683-0710, ATTN: Joe Miccio, Recording Secretary. Immediately notify the UFA if any firefighter or civilian is seriously injured due to this staffing reduction! *UNDERSTAFFED UNIT: Per AUC 287, any engine or ladder riding with fewer than 4 Firefighters (3 or less) is Understaffed. A ladder riding with 4 Firefighters is defined as Reduced Staffed Unit.

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15. UCT Case Update
The scheduled dates for our Unified Call Taker hearings are June 10, June 21 and July 19. The UFA and UFOA are working together on this case. Steve updated the membership at the May 12 Union Meeting.

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16. Modified Response Pilot
The Department expanded the Pilot Program to Brooklyn and Staten Island on April 4. This plan in its current form is designed to close FH's and will lead to additional Firefighter injuries. This issue was discussed with all member present at the May 12 Union Meeting. See your Delegate for an update.

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17. Safe Response
Health & Safety Officer/Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Romaka reminds the membership of the importance of a safe and efficient response and to follow all safe response protocols issued by the Dept. These include, but are not limited to, FDNY Regulations Chapter 11 and FDNY Safety Bulletins #6, #9, #10, #27, and #71. As recommended in the Safety Bulletins, chauffeurs need to pay attention to the varying weather conditions they are responding in and adjust their responses accordingly. Chauffeurs also need to be aware of the increased risk of an accident from changes in the response policies and responding from outside activities, such as the Building Inspection Safety Program. Previous UFA Safety Messages that highlight and emphasize a safe response should also be reviewed!

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18. Age Extender for FDNY Hiring
The City Council passed a bill May 26th extending the age limit for hopeful firefighter candidates who would have been ineligible for hiring after their 29th birthday by an ongoing legal battle over the entry exams. The extension--from age 29 to 35--would allow job-seekers who took the 2007 entrance exam to remain eligible for the next test. The last firefighter exam was administered in 2007, but the results were invalidated by Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who ruled that the last three entrance exams discriminated against African-American and Hispanic candidates. Judge Garaufis mandated a quota-type hiring system for these exams. The City has suspended hiring rather than hire under a quota-type system, while it prepares a new competitive entrance exam. The UFA is a party in fighting this case, along with the City.

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19. Delegate ID Photos to Be Taken at June 16 Union Meeting
Before the June 16 Union Meeting the UFA will be taking photos of Delegates who have not yet had their photos taken for UFA Delegate ID Cards. Be sure to go to the photographer's room to take your picture.

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20. UFA Financial Statement
UFA Treasurer Bob Straub reports that the UFA Financial Statement mailed on June 10th to all Firehouses and Delegate home addresses.

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21. FDNY Pilots And Marine Engineer - Request UFA Representation
Pursuant to petitions signed and submitted to the UFA by FDNY Pilots and Marine Engineers, they have requested to sever their affiliation with MEBA (Marine Engineers Benevolent Association), and become members of the UFA. Following a decision by the Office of Collective Bargaining, the OCB ruled last week that the UFA did its due diligence in responding to the request to represent Pilots and Marine Engineers. OCB has ordered an election to determine if the employees wish to be represented by UFA, MEBA or no union. There are about 25 MEBA members who will be voting. The election will take place by secret ballot at a time and place to be determined by the BCB.

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22. Delegate Education Seminar
The entire UFA Executive Board thanks each and every Delegate and/or Alternate who sacrificed their valuable time and made the effort to participate in the Delegate Education Seminar. It is our objective that the comprehensive training received during the seminar will be of great assistance when helping your members and their families regarding the many issues they face. The agenda and course titles are also posted on the UFA website. Besides the time you spend at our Education Seminar, we realize you invest considerable time throughout the year in order to educate yourself on issues of importance to your members. We'd like to thank you once again for all you do and the leadership role you take. It does make a difference!

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23. World Police & Fire Games 2011 NYC--Volunteers Needed
The WPFG 2011 is looking for volunteers to make these the best Games ever. New York is hosting the Games, the 2nd largest sporting competition in the world, to respectfully coincide with the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The 2011 WPFG NYC Organizing Committee is looking for both active and retired members (family members as well). The Games are New York's way of honoring all the brothers who we lost on 9/11 and continue to lose from working at Ground Zero and also thanking Fire and Police Departments from around the world that showed their support. The WPFG 2011 is looking for firehouses to adopt-a-sport, which entails help in running the sport by supplying volunteers. Some houses have adopted sports they are familiar with, while other houses have adopted sports that are relatively close to their firehouses. There are many venues in the five boroughs, Nassau, Suffolk and upstate. The three main venues are The Javits Center, Randall's Island and Lehman College. The dates of the Games are August 26th - September 5th. Step up and help make this a first and world class event. Please contact rmckeon@2011WPFG.org or call Rob McKeon @ 516-582-7384. Please spread the word to the retired members from your houses!

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Fraternally,

Stephen J. Cassidy
President

Joseph A. Miccio
Recording Secretary