Union Meeting's President's Report

Tuesday, September 16, 2014
President's Report
for Special Membership Meeting
Hilton New York JFK Airport Hotel, Queens, NY

Fire Commissioner To Address Delegates
FDNY Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro will address the membership at today's meeting.

Scholarship Committee
Scholarship Committee meeting at 9:30am today.

UFA Elections
"Who Voted" List, Available at Trustees table.

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.

Today's Agenda

Labor Relations/Contract Negotiations
On July 29th, the UFA Elective Board and our labor attorney met with Bob Linn and representatives of OLR, OMB, and FDNY concerning parameters of a contract. The UFA has requested a follow up meeting and is awaiting dates from OLR. President Steve Cassidy will update the membership.

UFA Political Action/GOTV
Vice President Jim Slevin and the UFA Executive Board would like to thank those members that turned out this Primary Day, in the 5 boroughs to help with GOTV campaign. We must remind the membership that your involvement is crucial to having a successful Political Action program. It will be vital to have your continued participation and support with Get-Out-The-Vote Operations through Election Day, November 4th. Vice President Jim Slevin will update.

Battalion Delegate Meeting
The Battalion Advisory Committee was brought in to the UFA on September 2nd, to get updates on the election cycle GOTV, along with a briefing on the recent meeting with OLR. Delegates also heard from NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, who also swore in the UFA Executive Board.

Firefighter's ESS Hacked
Recently four Staten Island Firefighters had their ESS Accounts hacked and bank routing numbers were changed.

The hacking involved the Firehouse computer, and the four members worked together. This followed an incident in June in which a firefighter's home computer was hacked, along with at least one EMS person.

The Department has disabled the ability for anyone to change their banking information via the computer. Until further notice only hard copies will be accepted, the form is available on the Firehouse Intranet.

All members have been reimbursed and it seems none of the affected members had email accounts on file with the Department. They would normally receive an email stating a change was made to their accounts.

UCT Case Update & Court Ordered Subpoena Against City
In a favorable decision to the UFA and UFOA dated April 30, 2013, the New York State Court of Appeals denied the City's motion which requested permission to appeal to that Court. Specifically, the City was trying to appeal from the Appellate Division, First Department order that denied the City's challenge to the New York Supreme Court order that required the City to produce all drafts and versions of a consulting report prepared by Winbourne Consulting, entitled "911 Call Processing Review." NYC Corporation Counsel has provided the UFA and UFOA with all drafts and versions of the "911 Call Processing Review," an independent consultant's report that is highly critical of the City's handling of 911 fire-related calls.

Finally, after approximately a one-and-a half year delay caused by the City as a result of their frivolous attempts to not disclose the "911 Call Processing Review", the safety impact hearing resumed on December 20, 2013 and was completed on January 15, 2014. Each and every version of the independent consultant's report was admitted into evidence. In addition, due to the help of our membership, the UFA put an overwhelming number of UCT Error Correction Log sheets into the evidentiary record. The UFA also outlined structural fires which resulted in exorbitant response time rates despite the inaccurate statements made by the City in its pleadings. The UFA has decided to focus solely on the safety impact issue regarding the method by which fire-related 911 calls are being handled post-UCT, rather than the newly implemented ICAD software.

The Office of Collective Bargaining will now determine whether the exclusion and/or restriction of the duties by the Fire Alarm Receipt dispatchers on 911 fire-related calls have had a safety impact on our membership. Post Hearing Briefs were submitted to the Board of Collective Bargaining on April 14, 2014. We continue to await the Board's calendaring of its decision.

Improper Practice Case: UFA vs. Department and Bronx Battalion Commander
The UFA has completed the Improper Practice hearing against the Department and the Battalion Commander from the 15th Battalion, based upon the UFA's claims that the FDNY violated the New York City Collective Bargaining Law (NYCCBL) when it discriminated against Light Duty FFs from L39 by unilaterally transferring them from the previous Light Duty posts on 03/09/12 and again on 08/01/12.

In addition, the UFA claims that the FDNY interfered with the statutory rights of all Union members when the Battalion Commander made inflammatory statements to members of L39 and E63 indicating that he was going to target any and all Union members who sought to protect and preserve their NYCCBL right of participating in protected union activity. There were a total of eight days of hearings. On its direct case, the UFA presented Firefighters from Ladder 39 and Engine 63 as witnesses, as well as Bronx Trustee Edward Brown. As part of the City's defense case, Battalion Commander Cartica testified and incredibly stated that he was not responsible for the transfers of the Ladder 39 Light Duty Firefighters. Post-Hearing Briefs were submitted in June and we are awaiting a decision from the Board of Collective Bargaining.

Fire Marshal - 2 Year Commitment
After a series of denials of promotions to ranks of Fire Marshal and Lieutenant, the UFA brought a proceeding on November 28, 2012 to challenge the unannounced and unilateral decision of the City and FDNY to impose a new policy requiring that members who hold, or ascend to, the civil service title of Fire Marshal, be required to minimally work for at least two years in said rank. The basis of the UFA's claim is that this was a unilateral change which required bargaining and therefore a violation under the New York City Collective Bargaining Law.

The City, throughout this case, has consistently denied the existence of a minimum work commitment policy. Hearings were held at the Office of Collective Bargaining which concluded on September 30, 2013. The UFA presented multiple witnesses who testified that the Department imposed a minimum work commitment policy upon the rank of Fire Marshal. The City presented absolutely no witnesses who could refute the testimony put forth by the UFA.

The Board of Collective Bargaining denied our Improper Practice case, even though no City witnesses testified or contradicted any of the evidence put forth by the UFA's witnesses in the hearing on the issue of the minimum commitment policy. Therefore, the UFA has filed an Article 78 Petition based on the fact that the Decision by the BCB was not supported by "substantial evidence".

The City has not yet responded to this Article 78 Petition.

Roster Staffing Case Updates
The Office of Collective Bargaining's (OCB) Interim Decision As you know, the UFA and UFOA filed a joint petition on January 31, 2011, alleging that the City's elimination of the 5th firefighter in the 60 Engines set forth in the Roster Staffing Agreement violated its requirement to negotiate, as well as created a negative safety impact. In its Interim Decision, dated June 20, 2011, the Board of Collective Bargaining (BCB) found that the Roster Staffing Agreement contained a "sunset" provision that terminated the staffing levels in the 60 Engines at a specified time, and dismissed the unions' allegations of a violation of the duty to negotiate, but found that the unions had set forth sufficient facts to warrant a hearing to determine whether the reduction in staffing has a practical impact on the safety of firefighters.

Article 78 Proceeding and Subsequent Appeals
With regard to the dismissal of the unions' claims relative to the City's duty to negotiate, on July 29, 2011, the UFA filed an Article 78 proceeding in the New York Supreme Court, which challenged that part of the BCB's decision that found that the City did not have to negotiate with the unions after it changed the staffing levels in the 60 Engine Companies as being arbitrary and capricious. The City and Board of Collective Bargaining each filed cross-motions to dismiss the UFA's appeal. On February 8, 2012, the NY Supreme Court denied the City's and BCB's applications to dismiss the UFA's Article 78 petition.

The UFA's case then proceeded through the NY Supreme Court seeking an order annulling part of the BCB's Interim Decision which held that the City was not required to negotiate its unilateral decision to reduce fire engine company staffing levels. On July 6, 2012 the NY Supreme Court denied the UFA's Article 78 petition, deferring to the BCB as the agency charged with interpreting the NYC Collective Bargaining Law.

Thereafter, the UFA filed a Notice of Appeal of this denial of the Article 78 Petition to the Appellate Division, First Department. The parties, including the UFA, the City, and the BCB each filed written appellate briefs, and on January 14, 2014, oral argument was conducted by UFA Labor Counsel before a panel of Justices of the First Department. On February 18, 2014, the Appellate Division, First Department issued a Decision and Order that affirmed the underlying BCB and NY Supreme Court determinations as rational and proper. The First Department decision is posted on the UFA website.

The UFA filed a motion seeking leave to appeal this matter further to the New York State Court of Appeals, because the Court of Appeals must first grant approval for the filing of any further appeal. The City and the Office of Collective Bargaining have each filed opposition papers to this motion. On June 5, 2014, the New York State Court of Appeals denied the Motion for Leave to Appeal.

Safety Impact Hearing
Status conferences are being scheduled with the Office of Collective Bargaining and the neutral Trial Examiner, Dean Ted St. Antoine of the University of Michigan School of Law, to inquire of the City's lack of progress in obtaining and coordinating responses to the UFA's original Information Request, and Supplemental Information Request, including the information concerning the first-due 10-75 data.

Proposed UFA Constitution Amendments
In accordance with the UFA Constitution, the Constitution Committee met on September 15th to review proposed amendments, which will be published prior to the October and November Union Meetings. Proposed amendments will be discussed and voted on at the November Union Meeting.

Potential October 12th Deadline for filing with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund
For those suffering from a cancer they believe is related to their work at the WTC disaster site, the deadline to register with the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (re-opened under the Zadroga Act), may be as early as October 12, 2014.

Generally, if you were diagnosed with a 9/11 related eligible cancer, other than prostate cancer, before October 12, 2012, the deadline for registration with the Fund is October 12, 2014. Calculating the deadline can be complicated and depends upon an individual claimant's facts. Thus, we strongly recommend that anyone who is thinking of filing a claim consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.

As you know, the Fund is a program to compensate firefighters and other first responders who suffer from illnesses or injuries as a result of participation in the September 11th rescue/recovery efforts. UFA General Counsel, Michael Block and his firm, Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo have been at the forefront of filing claims with the Fund on behalf of first responders. They recovered more than $265 million on behalf of first responders in the original Victim Compensation Fund (2002-2003) and were co-liaison counsel for injured WTC workers in the Federal lawsuit that resulted in a $700 million settlement in 2010.

With regard to the re-opened Fund, they already represent more than 1400 claimants and have successfully obtained over $193 million in awards for their clients to date. If you are interested in filing a claim with the Zadroga Fund or have questions concerning your rights or possible deadlines for filing, we recommend you call the Sullivan Papain Block firm as soon as possible at 212-732-9000 or email; SPBMC-NY@Triallaw1.com. Registration forms and additional information can be found on the web: www.vcf.gov.

Governor Cuomo Rides with First Responders on 9/11
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with 250 First Responders, rode motorcycles from Albany to the Quarters of Rescue 1 and continued to the World Trade Center site.

2014 IAFF Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial Wall
On September 20th, 2014, Five fallen UFA members will be added to the National Fallen Fire Fighters IAFF Memorial Wall in Colorado Springs. Representatives from the UFA and the fallen members' families will be present at the dedication. Additional information can be found on the IAFF homepage, along with a live feed on Saturday starting at 2pm. Members can log on at www.iaff.org.

UFA Scholarship Applications Deadline October 6th
REMINDER: Applications and instructions for the UFA Scholarship Fund are available on the UFA website at http://www.ufanyc.org/funds/scholar.php. Deadline for submission is Monday October 6, 2014.

FF Family Scholarships List Available on UFA Website
The UFA website includes a special Firefighter & Family Scholarship Section. You can look up scholarships offered by the UFA, FDNY, FDNY fraternal organizations, memorial scholarship funds, and other scholarship information that the UFA is made aware of. There is also an FDNY catalog listing courses, scholarships, and partner colleges. Scholarships and grants are listed alphabetically with contact info, eligibility requirements, award amounts, as well as submission and reward dates. If you wish to add scholarships not yet listed, forward the info to UFA Recording Secretary, LeRoy McGinnis via fax at 212-683-4359 or email at RecordingSecretary@UFANYC.org.

MRSA Update
The UFA has been in regular communication with the Bureau of Health Services, Training Academy, and Commissioner's Office concerning the outbreak of MRSA at the Training Academy. UFA's Health and Safety Officer, Gerard Fitzgerald will update the membership.

Delegate Photos at October Meeting
Photos will be taken at the October 9th meeting for all Delegates that do not have a current ID card.

Free Flu Inoculations at October Union Meeting
UFA Health & Safety Officer/Sergeant-at-Arms, Gerard Fitzgerald, reports BHS will provide free flu shots for members attending the Oct. 9th Union Meeting at the Hilton NY JFK Airport Hotel, 144-02 135th Ave. in Queens, at 10am (doors open at 9:15am).

City Health Plan Vendors at October Union Meeting
City Health/Medical Plan vendors will be present at the October 9th Union Meeting to answer your questions and distribute literature. Make sure you get the info you need to best protect your family!!! Updated price flyers and transfer forms will be available if you're interested in changing or updating your City Health/Medical Plan. The City Health Plan's transfer period is as follows; Active members can change health plans October 1-October 31, 2014. Retirees can change health plans November 1-November 30, 2014.

Update Your Address, Email, Phone #s with the UFA
Members and Delegates wishing to receive important information or notifications from the UFA should insure that their residence addresses, email addresses, home and cell phone numbers on file with the UFA are updated and accurate. In order to do this, you must prepare and sign a 'SBF Change of Address Form' and mail to the UFA, Attn: SBF. Forms can be obtained from your Delegate, who can assist you, or you can call the UFA SBF at 212-683-4723, or visit the Forms Section of the UFA web site. Additionally, members wishing to receive e-mails from the UFA should add the UFA e-mail address, UFA@ufanyc.org, to their contacts.


Stephen J. Cassidy