Thursday, April 11, 2013
for Special Membership Meeting
Hilton New York JFK Airport Hotel, Queens, NY
- Delegate Education Seminar
Registration at Recording Secretary / SBF Table Today
You can submit your reservation forms and payment at the Recording Secretary/SBF Table today. Ask for Jimmy Dahl. (See Item #13)
- SBF Help Table Today
Members who require help regarding dental, prescription drugs, optical or any other benefits provided via the UFA SBF should visit the SBF table today. SBF personnel are there to help you.
- Pick Up at Your Trustee Table Today
FDNY Tier 3 Pension Manual (See item #12: Insert after Delegate Manual Chapter 5, Subchapter II)
- Delegates ID Cards
Cards are available for pickup today.
1. NYC Firefighters Disaster Relief Fund Grant Applications Now Available
The application for a one-time grant from the NYC FF Disaster Relief Fund is online HERE Only active members, who suffered major damage (at least $20,000) to their primary residence due to Hurricane Sandy may apply, damage to automobiles does not qualify. Applications are due no later than June 5, 2013. We anticipate mailing grants shortly thereafter. Any member wishing to donate can visit www.NYCFDDR.org, and make a donation using PayPal.
2. UFA Members and Social Media
In light of recent news articles describing the consequences faced by FDNY employees for having posted grossly inappropriate comments and/or photos on their social media accounts, our members are reminded that what you send out via "tweets", Facebook or other sites, are in the public domain and can be the basis of severe discipline including dismissal by the Department.
The FDNY has made clear that it will not tolerate racist, prejudiced or otherwise discriminatory statements by firefighters. Although you do not lose your First Amendment rights when you join the FDNY, those rights are not unlimited. Do not embarrass yourselves or your family by using social media in a way that will cause the Department to seek penalties against you.
The Fire Commissioner stated on Dept. Order #23 that a new guideline concerning Social Media usage will be released.
3. NYS 2013-14 Budget Enacted
In March, New York State Legislature passed the 2013-14 budget on time. The Binding Arbitration changes that the Governor was seeking were not included in the budget, so it will now go up as a stand-alone extender bill, as it is due to expire July 1, 2013. UFA Vice President Jim Slevin will update the membership.
4. Political Endorsements
In 2013 there are open seats for all 3 citywide offices, Mayor, Comptroller and Public Advocate. In addition all five Borough President Offices as well as every City Council Seat is up for election. The UFA has started the process of screening candidates for possible endorsement. As in the past the UFA will endorse the candidates that are the most supportive of our issues and best able to advance those issues if elected. Candidates have been sent a questionnaire that they must respond to prior to coming in for an interview with the Executive Board. The answers on the questionnaire will decide whether a candidate is granted an interview.
The endorsement of the UFA has always been coveted by candidates seeking office. No candidate has been able to take it for granted. This year is no different. Candidates have been aggressively trying to lock up our endorsement early. There are many unsettled issues in Albany and City Hall that we must still resolve. Firehouse closings, binding arbitration changes, Tier III and other issues are still on the table. The UFA WILL NOT make any early endorsements. We will time our endorsements so that they will have the greatest impact on the respective races. Any rumors that we have already decided our endorsements are completely false.
Primary day is September 10th. We will need all available members to get involved and help get UFA endorsed candidates elected. If you are not registered to vote you can do so by clicking the 'Action Alert' tab on the UFA HOMEPAGE.
5. Dependent(s) Eligibility Verification Audit
We anticipate that in May 2013 the City of NY Health Benefits Program will begin to send a Verification letter to all active & retired NYC employees, to verify the eligibility of dependents that are enrolled on members' health plans. Members will be required to provide documents to confirm eligibility of your dependents; such as page 1 of Federal tax return (1040), proof of marriage, copies of birth certificates. Dependents must be verified by August 30, 2013 or they will be removed from the Health Benefits Program.
6. Tier V Legislation Trumps - Yonkers/Oswego FFs--Court of Appeals Decision
Yonkers/Oswego FFs--Court of Appeals Decision
On April 2, 2013, the New York State Court of Appeals held that unionized firefighters in Yonkers and Oswego, whose Collective Bargaining Agreements were expired, are required to contribute 3 percent of their salaries toward their pension if they were hired after Tier V was passed in 2009, even though the terms and conditions of their Collective Bargaining Agreements continue under the Triborough law.
The unions brought a case alleging that due to the Triborough Amendment, which allows terms of a Collective Bargaining Agreement to continue until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached, their contract provision providing a non-contributory status toward pensions should remain.
The unions argued that because of the Triborough Amendment, the firefighters contracts were still technically in effect when Tier V was passed, and therefore no contributions should be required.
The Court of Appeals ruled however, that Tier V trumps the Triborough Amendment. Based on the fact that the CBA had expired, the new hires would now have to contribute.
The Court rejected the argument because the Legislature clearly intended to honor only agreements that had not expired at the time the Tier V statute became effective.
7. Claims for Awards from The Victim Compensation Fund Established by the Zadroga Bill
The Zadroga legislation that re-opened the Victim Compensation Fund for individuals who are suffering from illnesses related to WTC exposure, does have time limits for the filing of claims. Our general counsel, Michael Block, advises that individuals who knew or should have known that they had a WTC illness before the Zadroga bill was passed, must file a Registration Form within two years of when the new Fund was established, i.e., by October 3, 2013.
For individuals who became ill after the legislation was effective, they have two years from when they learned of their illness to file.
Mr. Block points out that his law firm, Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo, PC, has been very effective in representing Zadroga claimants. Although they represent less than 7% of those registered with the Fund, their filings with the Fund amount to 46% of the total claims submitted, 63% of those found eligible and their clients have received 80% of the issued awards.
Mr. Block can be reached at (212) 732-9000.
8. Night BI Improper Practice Case
UFA Labor Counsel has filed an improper practice charge against the Department over Night BI. We are looking for members to provide testimony concerning how this program has created an impact on FF safety and workload. On March 22, at the NYC Office of Collective Bargaining, the UFA made its opening statement and put on its first witness. A second hearing took place on April 8th and we expect to conclude on April 25, 2013.
9. Another Reminder to Drive Safely
Recent news articles have reported that the City's Corporation Counsel is refusing to represent two high-ranking NYPD officers facing civil lawsuits for having allegedly assaulted Occupy Wall Street protesters.
Apparently, the City is taking the position that they will only defend and indemnify employees that have been accused of misconduct while "acting within the scope of their employment." In fact, the City's chief attorney, Michael Cardozo, is quoted as stating that state law prohibits the City's Law Department from representing these officers. The City bases its decision on the claim that in assaulting the protesters, the officers acted outside the scope of their job functions.
The troubling position taken by the City's lawyers is further reason to drive FDNY vehicles in a safe manner, in full accordance with the applicable regulations. Should you be involved in an accident causing fatalities or serious injuries, we are concerned that if the City feels you violated department rules, they may seek to avoid any obligation to defend or indemnify you.
10. Sign Up For The 9/11 Health Watch -- www.911healthwatch.org
Even with the passage of the "James Zadroga, 9/11 Health and Compensation Act" in 2010, there is still much that needs to be done to ensure the Federal Government's proper and continued long term commitment to the health and well-being of 9/11 responders, survivors and their families. The Act provides for monitoring, medical treatment and compensation for those exposed to and made sick by toxic exposures that resulted from 9/11. As passed by the Congress, it lasts for 5 years. We need to make sure the program lives up to its promise.
The 9/11 Health Watch is an independent watch group. We are monitoring the programs created by the law and are ready to address any lapses in the delivery of services and if necessary to suggest changes that might be needed and making sure that responders and survivors have the information on how the programs are working that they deserve.
9/11 Health Watch was put together by the unions and groups that fought so hard to get the care and support that the heroes of 9/11 and the survivors who were exposed to the toxins at Ground Zero deserve. We are here to make sure that we never have to struggle the way we did for nine years to get the full support of our government in Washington for the thousands of responders that came to Ground Zero from across the nation and for the survivors who were there.
By signing up you will be directly informed of critical issues concerning the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. You will be notified of events surrounding the extension of the act and be able to help ensure funding is available to provide healthcare and compensation to sick and injured 9/11 responders. Sign up at www.911healthwatch.org.
11. 2013 World Police & Fire Games--Order Uniforms By May 15th
To order this year's uniform you must provide your full name, unit, and registration #, confirmation #, or flight info for the WPFG by the May 15th deadline. Call Katie Kelly at 212-683-4832 with your uniform size and sport being played. For more info on the 2013 WPFG visit www.2013wpfg.com.
12. FDNY Tier 3 Pension Manual
An addition to Delegate Manual Chapter 5 of the Retirement & Money Book is at your Trustee table today. It contains the FDNY Pension Tier 3 Manual, which is published by the Department. It answers many questions regarding pension laws affecting all current members. It is important to note that FAQs and additional pension laws are listed in the back pages that impact topics explained in other sections of the manual. Please update your Delegate Manual and your members. It should be inserted after Subchapter II. Additional copies are available upon request to UFA Recording Secretary, LeRoy McGinnis.
13. Delegate Education Seminar - Discount Deadline Has Passed!!!!
Late Registration at Recording Secretary Table Today
Check the registration list at your Trustee table today to verify you are registered. If you are not on the list, ask for Jimmy Dahl at the SBF/Recording Secretary table today. Payment must have already been received at the UFA to guarantee your discounted rate (The UFA will do what it can to secure discounted rates for Delegates who submit payment today at the Recording Secretary/SBF Table). Seminar registration & hotel room reservations must be made by check only, payable to the 'UFA' (phone registration cannot be accepted), along with the proper form. If this cannot be addressed today you'll need to make your room reservation by credit card directly with the hotel at the full-price per-night rate--if rooms are still available. If this is your first Delegate Educational Seminar, you can familiarize yourself by reviewing last year's agenda and program activity book on the UFA website HERE. You can also check out the latest notices for this year's Seminar. Location/Dates: Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, Tuesday, May 7, 2013 thru Friday, May 10, 2013.
14. Delegate Seminar Updates
- Defensive Driving Course: will take place on Tuesday, May 7th @ 5pm. Pre-registration is required; delegates must call Mike Chierico at 631-587-2435. Seating is limited and don't forget your drivers license.
- Delegate ID Photos: will be taken for both New Delegates/Current Delegate except for those who already received new cards this year.
- Pension Statements: by Albert Connolly will be available for delegates that have 19 1/2 or more years of service. Delegates/Alternates must submit their Full Name, Tax Registry Number, Unit, no later than Friday morning 05/03/2013. Contact Lauren Bradshaw with your info at the Recording Secretary's Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-545-6974 to register. (Al's workshop will be held 3pm on Wednesday, May 8 and 4pm on Thursday, May 9).
15. Delegate Seminar Topics: Poll Your Members
Many of our members depend heavily upon their Delegates for guidance and important information. Delegates should poll their members prior to attending the seminar so they may have answers to their members' questions when they return. Topics to be addressed this year include: UFA State of the Union Address, UFA Media & PR strategies, Compensation Accrual Fund (your annuity investing), Deferred Compensation Plan (457, 401k, & IRA), Pension Reform, New On-Line FDNY Pension Statements, Disability Pensions, Retirement Planning, UFA Dental / Optical / Prescription Drug plans, New Protective Gear, FDNY Research & Development, Cancer, Medical Office issues, UFA Criminal Counsel, UCT & Roster Staffing Cases, Being an Effective Delegate, 50% Indicator, Pension Loans, ITHP, Roth IRAs, Health & Safety issues, Firefighter Legislation & Political action, Pension Planning by the FDNY Pension Unit and more. In addition, many representatives from health care companies, mortgage companies, financial advisors and others will have exhibit tables and be distributing literature. You can also check out the latest notices for this year's Seminar on the UFA website, HERE. Seminar dates: May 7 - 10, 2013.
16. Volunteering in Paid FD? UFA & IAFF Constitution Violation
Article XVI, Section 3 of the UFA Constitution, as well as the IAFF Constitution, prohibit volunteering as a Firefighter in a paid fire department. Members who do this jeopardize other professional firefighters' careers and livelihoods. If the UFA receives a report of a member that is in violation of these provisions, as required, proceedings will begin to address the allegation. If confirmed, the offending member may be declared "a member not in good standing" as well as have his or her name listed in the UFA FireLines publication, which is circulated to all 20,000 active and retired members.
17. 2012 FICA Refund
FICA Refunds for 2012 LODI were included in the March 29, 2013 paycheck. The amount of the refund is indicated as "FICA Refund" and is listed in the deduction section at the bottom of your check stub as a negative deduction or as deduction code "9005" on Employee Self Service (ESS). The amount of your FICA Refund is simply added to your net pay and does not affect 2013 earnings or 2013 FICA/Medicare earnings or withholding.
The amount of the FICA Refund depends on various factors such as when the LODI was incurred, and whether or not the maximum FICA withholding was reached. For example, a member who already reached the maximum FICA withholding (4.2% of 110,100 or $4,624.20) before incurring LODI, will only have the Medicare portion (1.45%) refunded. Since the FICA Refund is indicated as a negative deduction, it is possible for members with large amounts of LODI to have a FICA Refund in excess of other total deductions. In these cases, the "Total Deductions" amount on a member's check stub could indicate a negative number.
18. 2013 IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial
The 2013 IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Service will be held Saturday, September 21, 2013. The mission of the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial, which is located in the shadow of Pike's Peak, is to honor the sacrifice made by IAFF members who serve as professional fire fighters and emergency medical personnel who have given their lives in the line of duty. Previously only members that had succumbed to an LOD injury or an on-duty heart attack had been submitted to the IAFF and had their names added to the memorial.
The UFA is now able to submit the names of members who died either active or retired and were classified WTC LOD by the pension boards, since 2002. We need any delegate who has had a member that falls into this category to first reach out to the next of kin and ask if they would like their loved one to be included this year. Notify the UFA no later than April 21st with the name and number of a contact person. The IAFF will then invite 2 family members to attend the ceremony in Colorado Springs. The family is responsible for their own travel & hotel arrangements (the IAFF website www.iaff.org has a section dedicated to this event).
The UFA will continue, as done in the past, with assisting the family members invited to the service. Any additional family members or firefighters that would like to attend are permitted.
19. Making Sure Our Brothers Are Always Remembered: FDNY Member Guides at 9/11 Memorial
The September 11th Families' Association/Tribute WTC Visitor Center, which is located next door to Engine 10 / Ladder 10, is seeking active or retired members of the FDNY to serve as 9/11 Memorial guides and Tribute Center volunteers. Volunteers share their experiences related to September 11, 2001 and educate visitors from around the world about the World Trade Center during special access walking tours at the 9/11 Memorial. For FDNY members who are looking for an additional opportunity to make a difference through service, you are welcome to consider joining the many NYC Firefighters who currently volunteer to do the 9/11 Memorial tours. Please contact Nancy Gamerman at (212) 422-3520, ext. 112, or email@example.com.
Visit www.tributewtc.org/walktours/meet.php to download an application for the next training class. Let's make sure our story is told and our brothers are always remembered!
Stephen J. Cassidy