65-2 #30 November 27, 2002

Union & Health Issues, Events, Fundraisers & Benefits

  • Contract Ratification Process
  • About the Tentative Contract
  • Firehouse Closings Halted
  • UFA Political Action Committee Officers Needed
  • Can the City Reduce Manning?
  • FDNY Reduced Manning Hose Stretch Study
  • Getting Your Problems Resolved
  • Counseling and Stress Relief
  • Empire Hospital Coverage Procedures

Events, Fundraisers & Benefits:

  • Widows and Children's Ski Trip
  • Discount Golf Tickets for Active & Retired Firefighters
  • Elsasser Fund-raiser on the Slopes
  • Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance Installed Dec. 15
  • FF Michael Cammrata Fundraiser Hockey Game

Contract Ratification Process
On Thursday, November 21st your Executive Board voted 10-0 in favor of the proposed contract agreement. The Battalion Advisory Committee met on Friday, November 22nd and reached a 47-4 vote in favor of the pending contract agreement. As per the UFA Constitution, the Contract will be discussed -- with no vote taken -- at the Special Delegate Meeting to be held on December 10th. The next step after that is a Company Delegates roll call vote to be held on January 10th, 2003. Upon the approval, said contract shall be submitted to the membership within 15 days for a ballot vote by mail.

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About the Tentative Contract
The UFA Executive Board negotiated the tentative contract, which mirrors the PERB award to the PBA. It calls for a 24 month contract, with retroactive raises of 5% effective May 1, 2000, 5% effective May 1, 2001 (10.25% compounded). Another 1.5% in benefit enhancements becomes effective May 31, 2002.

By no means does your Executive Board believe that this package represents what our members are truly worth. In looking at our options, we felt that there was no way we were going to get a higher award from an arbitrator based on the PBA PERB decision. That decision clearly beat the Uniformed Collation Agreement pattern, just as the UFA deal has. The difference is, the UFA negotiated the deal and the PBA was issued an award. The negotiated deal shows that the City does not have to follow pattern bargaining. This will be significant in future rounds of bargaining, as the UFA may no longer be bound by "civilian patterns."

The Executive Board extends their thanks to the membership for their strong support during this round of negotiations. We showed unity and strength by rejecting the previous Uniformed Collation Agreement. The City has pushed both the Detectives and Sergeants Unions to impasse. This shows how effective our rallies, ad campaign and the overall new direction have worked towards achieving our goals.

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Firehouse Closings Halted
On Monday, November 25th, the City Council voted to restore money to the FDNY budget. This means that the 8 firehouses that were slated to close have been saved. A "Blue Ribbon Commission" is being set up to study the feasibility of firehouse closings. We do not have details about this commission yet. We expect the City Council to have some appointment powers and we will make our recommendations to them. Unfortunately, the UFA was not able to restore money in the budget that would have saved the 38 Fire Marshal lines. The number of Marshals is set by the Fire Commissioner, and even if the Council had put the money in the budget, for them they could not be saved. The Mayor's office was insisting that they be eliminated. Thirty eight Marshals will be sent back to the firehouse where they will retain their rank and salary, but will be working as firefighters until such time that a marshal position opens up again.

We have spoken to members of the Council and they have assured us that they will try to work with the Mayor's Office and restore the Marshals in the next round of budget negotiations. Next week, the UFA will have a joint meeting with the other uniformed unions to map out a strategy for the next round of budget negotiations. The only way we will survive them is by sticking together and keeping the pressure on the Council. The City is still facing a $3.1 billion deficit next fiscal year. We expect the Mayor to attempt to further reduce the FDNY's budget by another $26.5 million in the next fiscal year. We would like to thank all the members that turned out at the rallies and press conferences. Please reach out to your community boards and Council members if you are in one of the affected Firehouses and thank them for all their support. This battle has only begun and we will need all of the help that we can get in the next round of budget negotiations. Stay Tuned!

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UFA Political Action Committee Officers Needed
In accordance with the UFA Constitution, “there shall be a Delegates Advisory Committee for political action comprised of one member in good standing from each battalion. The battalion representative shall be chosen by the Company Delegates of each battalion.” We have seen how effective working with our local politicians and community has been in keeping our firehouses open. They remain open--for now. The City still wants to reduce manning, take away Marshals and make other cuts. We must always be prepared to address important issues the moment they arise.

With this in mind, the UFA is calling for members with an interest in getting politically involved and making a difference to step up. Your job will involve knowing which members in your battalion you can call on to attend political events, and being familiar with influential people in your firehouse’s community. It also involves communication with and working together with New York politicians. It can be rewarding, and could lead to other professional opportunities in your life. You need not be a Delegate, and more than one person per battalion can participate. The UFA is calling on all Delegates to get the word out in your battalions, as we need at least one person per battalion to take on this occasional, but much needed challenge. We are asking each Battalion Delegate to provide our Legislative Chairman, Jim Slevin’s office with at least one interested person. Call or fax the member’s name, company & phone numbers. Tele: 212-683-4832; Fax: 212-683-0710. Interested members can also call us directly after informing your Company Delegate. Help us to make a difference for you!

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Can the City Reduce Manning?
The Fire Department currently plans on reducing Staffing in 49 engine companies based on the 1996 Roster Staffing Agreement. The current Medical Leave (ML) rate is around 8.5%. The agreement calls for only 11 engine companies to be staffed with five firefighters if medical leave goes above 7.5%. We believe that the City is unfairly using the World Trade Center ML against us. In addition, with the number of retirements and the postponement of the next class of probationary firefighters, the ML number automatically goes up.

The Executive Board forwarded a letter to the Fire Commissioner and Mayor requesting that all WTC related ML, including all respiratory-related ML, not be included in the average. It is our opinion that all of the lung-related ML is a direct result of 9-11, and the fact that proper respiratory protection was not immediately available to the membership during this tragedy. It is our belief that the FD should not and cannot legally use WTC ML statistics against us to reduce the number of five firefighter engine companies. Based on the 1996 agreement, if the Commissioner chose not to remove WTC ML and acted solely on the ML statistics, the Staffing of companies with five firefighters could be reduced to 11 Engine Companies (C + 11). On the first day of each month, the prior 365 days are reviewed. If ML exceeded the "designated absence rate," staffing levels may be reduced to "C + 11," effective 0900 the following day--where it will remain for the entire month--after which it will be re-evaluated. The UFA does not want anyone who is sick or injured to not protect themselves. Members that are sick or injured should get the opinion of a doctor. However, the City must reinstate the 5 firefighter Staffing if the ML average drops below 7.5%. The UFA will continue to fight this matter. It is clear-cut that reducing Staffing will have a definite safety impact on both our members and the public.

Dr. Kelly and Dr. Prezant have been working tirelessly with the computer staff to isolate all the WTC-related ML and have lobbied the Fire Commissioner to exclude all WTC ML from the YTD statistics. Their efforts should be acknowledged and applauded by all.

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FDNY Reduced Manning Hose Stretch Study
For your information, the following lists results of tests conducted and documented by FDNY Deputy Chief Vincent Dunn in 1987 at the FDNY Academy. All tests are conducted with an experienced chauffeur and newly trained probationary firefighters in peak physical condition:

  • Test 1: (average age 26): 4-man staffing stretched to the 5th floor - 10 minutes and 23 seconds
  • Test 2: (average age 26): 5-man staffing stretched to the 5th floor - 5 minutes and 50 seconds
  • Test 3: (average age 28): 4-man staffing stretched to the 6th floor - 12 minutes
  • Test 4: (average age 28): 5-man staffing stretched to the 6th floor - 7 minutes and 55 seconds

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Getting Your Problems Resolved
Issues with the Medical Office, Health & Safety at work, Quartermaster, violations of the City’s contractual obligations or any other problems must be effectively addressed by the UFA. However, written documentation is -- without question -- a key ingredient to getting your problems solved. Verbal complaints are not as well documented as written complaints, and carry very little enforcement weight. Bringing multiple written complaints that document a problem to HQ or an attorney is the most effective way to gain voluntary compliance or enforce employer compliance. The UFA receives hundreds of calls each week from our members with problems. Some are more complex than others. Our job is to fix your problem or to find the person who can.

In many cases a firefighter’s role involves more than just a phone call. Written documentation requires extra effort, but it also most accurately describes your problem. This allows the UFA to better understand it, remember all the details and/or pass it along to the person who is most qualified to solve it. The best way to help us achieve this is to mail, email or fax us a description of the issue, then call to verify that we’ve received it. If it is a more complex issue, a call prior to sending the info will allow us to direct you as to how to prepare your documentation and what needs to be described. Also, ask how long it may take us to address the issue. Not all problems are able to be solved quickly. Some must be addressed through the grievance procedure or collective bargaining, others have quick and happy endings. But it all starts with providing us the necessary documentation we need to go to bat for you.

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Counseling and Stress Relief
An extremely critical part of your recovery from all the stress you have taken in since 9-11-01 is getting the professional help you need. It is important that you take care of yourself and family--and not be apprehensive to seek out help. It is our job as your union to insure you have every opportunity to receive the best treatment possible, whatever that may be. We need to know what your experiences have been with the Counseling Unit. Please take a moment and write down any positive or negative experiences, and your recommendations. After you have documented your opinions/experiences, please mail it or fax it to the Health and Safety Office's private fax line at 212-683-4768. As always, all info given to the Health and Safety Office is strictly confidential.

If you do not feel you are receiving the help you need, or are reluctant to confide personal information to your employer’s Counseling Unit (FDNY), you can receive help from a private therapist at no charge for as long as necessary. Please contact Anne Fenton 212-545-6965 at the UFA Health & Safety Office. She can refer you or a family member to a private therapist. The therapists that we are providing through The New York Disaster Coalition Unit are FREE, PRIVATE, AND LONG TERM. No insurance and no co-payments are required. If you have any questions regarding this or any Health & Safety issues please contact Phil McArdle at 212-545-6964.

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Empire Hospital Coverage Procedures

  • Emergency Room: For those members who are covered by Empire BlueCross BlueShield, please note that the cost of most physicians who see you in the emergency room -- including for X-rays and pathology -- is covered by your plan. If you get billed more than your copayment, call 1-800-433-9592.

  • Elective Surgery: Ten days prior to an elective surgery or within 24 hours after an emergency admission, call 1-800-521-9574 to avoid $500 in penalties.

  • Overseas Hospitals: If you are traveling overseas, check Empire's website www.empireblue.com for a list of participating hospitals in the country you plan to visit, or call 1-800-433-9592 to save any out-of-pocket expense.

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Widows and Children's Ski Trip
Friday, Jan. 24, 2003 at Sterling Forest, Tuxedo, NY for our widows and children. Engine 53/Ladder 43 are asking the brothers in each firehouse to contact any family they think might need assistance to attend this event. All hands are appreciated to make this day a memorable one. Sterling Forest offers half-price lift tickets and rentals for Firefighters with FDNY identification Monday -- Friday. For any information or if you would like to ski with the children that day, call Dave Rowan of L-43 or Louis Giaconelli of E-53 at 212-570-4253.

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Discount Golf Tickets for Active & Retired Firefighters
Frank D'Antoni, formerly of E-37/L-77, has made arrangements with the Phil Ritson-Mel Sole Golf School, south of Myrtle Beach for discount rates for all active and retired Firefighters. The cost is $350 for three-day school that includes a maximum of four students per instructor, computer-aided video analysis and separate practice facility. The school is at Pawleys Plantation, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course. Accommodations are available on site or in the area. Call 1-800-624-4653 or visit www.ritson-sole.com and tell them you are a New York City Firefighter. Makes a great Christmas gift.

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Elsasser Fund-raiser on the Slopes
The Mad River Valley is helping to raise funds for the Thomas R. Elsasser Memorial Scholarship Fund. The community is offering three days of winter fun that includes: lodging, lift tickets, parties and a ski race as the centerpiece to this fundraiser, scheduled for Jan. 12 to Jan. 15, 2003.

The lodging businesses are offering discounts up to 30% off and the ski resorts of Sugarbush and Mad River have reduced their ticket rates and are pledging up to 20% of the proceeds from the sales of the lift tickets and race to the fund. In addition, there will be great prizes to be won as part of the race and in raffles to be held at the welcome party. Complimentary lodging and lift tickets are available to the widows and children of the Line of Duty and non-Line of Duty Firefighters and a guest so they too can join in on this weekend. A sample package is as follows:

  • Three Day Complete Packages starting at $241 per person (Sun/Mon/Tues nights)
  • Two Day Complete Packages starting at $169 per person (Sun/Mon or Mon/Tue)

Call 1-800-53SUGAR to book your event reservation and for assistance in lodging recommendations. Those calling on behalf of widows should contact Gary Lombardi at 802-888-7392 for assistance.

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Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance Installed Dec. 15
The Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance, bearing the names of the 115 Firefighters and Officers from Brooklyn who made the supreme sacrifice on Sept. 11, 2001, is scheduled for a special viewing on Dec. 15 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The bronzed-etched wall at Keyspan Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, is located at 1904 Surf Ave. Refreshments will be served courtesy of Peggy O'Neill's Restaurant and candy canes will be distributed to youngsters. Brooklyn Trustee John Kelly has been working closely on this project, which was commissioned by a private benefactor. Please take the time to stop by and see this beautiful memorial during the holiday season.

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FF Michael Cammrata Fundraiser Hockey Game
The FDNY Hockey Team is donating all proceeds to the FF Michael Cammarata Fund. Saturday, November 30, 2002, 3pm. Staten Island Hockey Pavilion, 3080 Arthur Road, SINY, 718-948-4800. Verrazanno Bridge to SI Expy. to West Shore Expy. (440), Exit #3 to Bloomingdale Road, at 1st light make right turn, proceed to Arthur Kill Rd. and turn left. The rink is aprox. 7/10ths of a mile on left. Join the team after the game at Nucci’s South Resteraunt. Left turn out of the rink parking lot. Nucci’s is about 1.5 miles on the left. Watch a great game and support a good cause.

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Joseph A. Miccio
Recording Secretary,

Stephen J. Cassidy