65-2 #64 October 25, 2006

Union Issues

  • UFA Contract Update
  • Political Action Committee Meeting - Election Day Operations
  • Self Mutual and RSOT Payback
  • Apparatus Door Locking Mechanism Hazard
  • Apparatus Maintenance Checklist
  • Spare Apparatus and Nederman
  • Your Rights: Interviews after Rig Accidents & Fatal Fires
  • Verified WTC Participation Forms: Dept Mails Confirmations
  • WTC Medical Monitoring
  • U.S. District Court Allows Claims of Injured 9/11 Rescue Workers to Proceed
  • Military Housing Benefits Resolution
  • Military Activation & Return List
  • Grievance/Arbitration Update
  • Labor-Management Issues
  • Purple K Unit Training on OT
  • Who's Watching You?
  • Refund of FICA Deductions re LODI Medical Leave
  • 1127 Federal Lawsuit Update
  • Portal Pay
  • Uniform Maintenance Non-Taxability Affidavit
  • UFA Scholarship Fund Awards
  • EEO & Drug Raids, Random tests
  • Planning Retirement?
  • UFA Board Members Address Retiree Conference

    Events, Help, Fundraisers & Benefits:

  • City Health/Medical Plan Transfer Period
  • UFA Dental Plan Transfer Period
  • National 'Do Not Call' Register
  • FamilyLife Free Marriage Conference
  • Need Volunteers: Help NY Marathon Wounded Warriors

      This 65-2 includes issues discussed and topics on the President's Report at the October 12 Union Meeting, as well as additional issues and updates to the topics discussed. All members are invited and encouraged to attend all General Membership Union meetings, which are announced on Meeting Notices mailed to each company (for posting) at least 10 days prior to all meetings.

      1. UFA Contract Update

      The UFA Executive Board and Labor Attorney Mike Axelrod met with the City on Wednesday, September 13 in a negotiation session. The next session has been scheduled for November 6. Copies of the Executed 2002-2006 Contract that was ratified last winter, in its entirety, were distributed to each Delegate at the October 12 Union Meeting. Steve Cassidy gave an update at that meeting regarding current contract negotiations.

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      2. Political Action Committee Meeting - Election Day Operations

      The previously announced meeting of the Delegate's Advisory Committee for Political Action takes place this week on October 25. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss UFA field operations up to and including Election Day. Many of our friends in Albany have tough elections and will need our help. Election Day is Tuesday, November 7th. Start clearing your calendars now and make yourself available. All hands will be needed. Operations will take place in Westchester, Putnam, Suffolk, Queens and Staten Island. There will be plenty of opportunities to volunteer your time. Company Delegates should provide a minimum list of 10 names for Election Day. In addition there will be a special Election Endorsement issue of Firelines prior to Election Day. Make sure to get out and Vote!

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      3. Self Mutual and RSOT Payback

      UFA Recording Secretary reports that due to an increasing number of tours that the Dept is operating at full manpower capacity, it has become more difficult for members to have approved payback of Self-Mutuals or a rescheduling of RSOT tours. Members are advised to submit IN WRITING all requests for repayment of Self-Mutuals and to document IN WRITING any time you are refused to reschedule a RSOT tour owed due to a group change. Keep a copy of all documented refusals. It is also recommended that a company journal entry is made documenting refusals. Member rights regarding Self-Mutuals and RSOT are spelled out on PA/IDs 3-94, 1/90 and 1-90 Addendum 4 respectively. PA/ID 1-90, section 11.2 specifically notes: "Firefighters with a group/vacation change which results in the opportunity for fewer hours of RSOT are authorized to work additional tours as needed by the Department for 96 hours of RSOT in the calendar year." Without proper documentation of refusal you can lose your rights to carry over RSOT tours to the following year, and you may be penalized for not repaying Self-Mutuals within 90 days.

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      4. Apparatus Door Locking Mechanism Hazard

      Steve Cassidy held a press conference on Tuesday, Oct 10 in which we highlighted an internal memo from the Chief of Safety that uncovered a door locking mechanism problem with all Seagrave pumpers. A severe injury occurred to one of our members due to the Department's negligence. This document was not given to us by the Dept. It is dated 6/12/2006 and the Commissioner has not yet addressed this hazard. If the Department does not act immediately we will ask the City Council to conduct safety hearings. A copy of the FDNY memo was distributed to all Delegates at the October 12 Union Meeting. The UFA Press Release and media clips can be reviewed on the UFA website at www.UFANYC.org.

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      5. Apparatus Maintenance Checklist

      UFA Sergeant-at-Arms/Health & Safety Officer Bill Romaka has prepared and distributed a one-page quick-reference checklist/guide to Company Apparatus Care & Maintenance. It includes required items (per FDNY Training Bulletin Apparatus C-2 & Quick Reference Sheet RT-14) to be checked per tour, daily, weekly, quarterly, semi-annually, and also as needed. See attached Guide/List for posting and for all chauffeurs to follow.

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      6. Spare Apparatus and Nederman

      UFA Sergeant-at-Arms/Health & Safety Officer Bill Romaka reminds the membership that when you are operating a spare apparatus it is important to make certain that it is compatible with your current Nederman system. If not, you should notify the Company Officer to call the Resource Center (718-999-4357) and put in a proper request for service to the system. A CD-73 should be filled out every tour if the Nederman system is OOS or not functioning properly.

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      7. Your Rights: Interviews after Rig Accidents & Fatal Fires

      Every member is strongly advised to read the September/October Firelines article prepared by UFA General Counsel Mike Block. It answers specific questions regarding who may ask you questions, if you must answer and when you may refuse. Fatal fires and rig accidents may expose members to serious liabilities. Make sure you understand your rights and who to call prior to answering any questions. Read this informative article!!!

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      8. Verified WTC Participation Forms: Dept Mails Confirmations

      FDNY Pension Bureau began mailing letters of confirmation in September to any member who has filed his/her WTC Notice of Participation form-if the form was verified by the Dept.-as documentation for having performed at least the 40 hours at the required designated sites. However, the Pension Bureau advises that members who have submitted the WTC form but whom the Dept is unable to verify will not receive a letter at this time. The 'WTC Disability Applications' and also the 'WTC Notice of Participation Forms' are both available on the Homepage of the UFA Web site at: www.UFANYC.org. See your Company Delegate for preparation instructions.

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      9. WTC Medical Monitoring

      UFA Health & Safety Officer Bill Romaka reminds members: Active firefighters will generally be seen for WTC Medical Monitoring during annual company medicals. Members who miss an annual medical, or have been on extended light duty or medical leave, should call Capt. Terrusa at 718-999-1948 to schedule a medical. Retirees should call 718-999-1858 to set up WTC Medicals

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      10. U.S. District Court Allows Claims of Injured 9/11 Rescue Workers to Proceed

      On October 17, 2006, U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein issued an important ruling allowing the claims of firefighters sickened by dust and contamination at the World Trade Center disaster site ("WTC Site") to proceed against the City and other defendants. The Court refused a request by the defendants, including City contractors responsible for debris removal operations at the WTC Site, to dismiss the cases. These defendants urged that the Court grant them "immunity" or blanket protection from the lawsuits. They argued that since their efforts were a "good faith" response to an act of war, any failure to provide rescue personnel with appropriate, effective respiratory protection should be overlooked. The Court rejected these arguments, and recognized that "the workers at the site were presented with a dangerous environment threatening their health and safety." If the responders are injured from their service at the WTC Site, the Court reasoned, "their claims deserve to be heard." Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo P.C., general counsel for the UFA, is one of the law firms named liaison counsel on behalf of injured workers in the WTC Site litigation. You are encouraged to contact the firm immediately if you are suffering from an illness or injury you think may be connected to your service at the WTC Site. Please contact Michael Block, Esq. or Andrew Carboy, Esq. at (212) 732-9000 if you have any questions or are interested in bringing a claim.

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      11. Military Housing Benefits Resolution

      UFA Legislative Chairman Jim Slevin reports the City Council has a resolution pending calling upon the Mayor to exclude the value of housing and food when calculating military pay pursuant to Operation Enduring Freedom Extended Benefits Package. Its purpose is to relieve members of the obligation to reimburse the City for housing and food pay received from the military. Jim Slevin testified on September 25 at the hearing at City Hall with many members present showing their support. Communications were put out by the UFA in advance to all companies and also through the FDNY VFW to its war vet members. The City just announced this week that the Engeldrum family will not have to repay any money owed to the City for both salary and housing. The UFA thanks all members who turned out. This issue has yet to be resolved. The UFA will keep the membership advised of any progress.

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      12. Military Activation & Return List

      A list of all members who were activated for military duty and returned was published by the Dept on October 17 on Supplement #63 to Dept Order #84

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      13. Grievance/Arbitration Update

      UFA Recording Secretary Joe Miccio and UFA Labor Attorney Mike Axelrod report that the last Medical Leave Lifts hearing took place on September 27. Former Chief of Department Frank Cruthers (now 1st Deputy Commissioner) testified before Arbitrator Al Viani. Additional hearings will be scheduled this Fall with Commissioner Cruthers' examination to continue and Chief Cassano to testify. Other open cases include: E75/L33 Involuntary Transfers Grievance, Meal Period Improper Practice, Random Drug Testing Improper Practices (Challenge of changes to reasonable suspicion AUC, Challenge to Random Drug Testing procedure, Challenge to exclusion of the UFA rep during the selection process of companies to be randomly tested), and Board Member exclusion from apparatus meetings at HQ Improper Practice.

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      14. Labor-Management Issues

      UFA Recording Secretary Joe Miccio and UFA Labor Attorney Mike Axelrod report the following current Labor-Management agenda, which includes: light duty issues, recurring apparatus problems after repairs, BITs ordering members to Counseling Services Unit (CSU), LODI prescription fulfillment and payment, proper chauffeur training certifications, continuing SMLP issues, improper billing members for LODI medical treatment, 10-51 safety issues, firehouse heating/AC/Nederman problems, gear bags, training issues, Safety Bulletin #7, military member issues, Purple K Unit Training and more. The last Labor Management meeting took place on October 10 at HQ.

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      15. Purple K Unit Training on OT

      UFA Recording Secretary Joe Miccio reports from Labor-Management that all 6 FDNY Purple K Units and all 6 backup Purple K Units are receiving 9 hours of training on OT provided by FDNY instructors at the Nassau County Fire Academy.

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      16. Who's Watching You?

      It is estimated that NYC is filled with tens of thousands of private and public surveillance cameras. Make sure you read the September/October Firelines article written by Manhattan Trustee Danny Murphy regarding this subject.

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      17. Refund of FICA Deductions re LODI Medical Leave

      More than 13 years ago, the City of New York filed a refund claim with the IRS seeking reimbursement of certain FICA paycheck deductions. At that time, the IRS agreed that FICA deductions from your paychecks would not be made for LOD medical leave time taken after six months, but it asserted that FICA deductions from your paycheck were proper for LOD medical leave of less than six months. The City of New York has reached an agreement with the IRS concerning FICA. The dispute was finally resolved and the IRS has agreed to reimburse the City and its affected employees (FFs) for FICA deductions taken during LOD medical leaves of less than six months duration. The reimbursement for firefighters will retroactively cover the period from 1989 through 2005. The City's Office of Payroll Administration (OPA), not the FDNY, will be responsible for administering the refund program. The FDNY will soon distribute an OPA information sheet explaining how to apply for the refund and answering anticipated questions regarding the refund program. No further information has been confirmed at this time.

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      18. 1127 Federal Lawsuit Update

      On September 20, 2006 Federal Judge Barbara Jones ruled in favor of the City in our case to have the 1127 Condition of Employment Waiver declared unconstitutional. The UFA was one of 12 uniformed unions that took part in the action. In the near future we will be having a meeting with the other 11 unions to discuss our options for appeal. The notice of appeal is being filed regardless of what further action we decide to take on this case. We will keep you informed of our future actions.

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      19. Portal Pay

      UFA Recording Secretary Joe Miccio advises members to remind your officers to give you a portal-to-portal TPR mark when you are detailed to the BHS for Annual Company Medicals.

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      20. Uniform Maintenance Non-Taxability Affidavit

      Per Dept Orders, each member is responsible for completing the affidavit for forwarding a copy to the Bureau of Uniformed Payroll. Affidavits and instructions may also be obtained by accessing the Department's Intranet. Audits will be conducted to ensure that affidavits are being completed and filed. Failure to properly complete and file an affidavit may result in the issuance of a corrected W-2 form that includes the Uniform Cleaning Allowance as taxable earnings. See your Officer if you have any questions regarding this issue.

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      21. UFA Scholarship Fund Awards

      The UFA Scholarship Fund began mailing $600 scholarships this month to all eligible members and dependents who filed by the deadline. Due to growth in fund revenues from member contributions, fundraising and investment returns, this year's scholarships have increased $100 per winner above the previous year's $500 distributions.

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      22. EEO & Drug Raids, Random tests

      In addition to its Random Drug Testing visits, the Department continues to 'raid' (surprise inspection) firehouses. It is also conducting EEO inspection visits. Members are advised to notify the UFA whenever a 'raid' (which is different than a Random Drug Test visit) or EEO visit occurs. The following companies recently reported being 'raided' with negative results: E-301 on 9/16, E-299 on 9/19, E-304 on 9/20, E-302 on 9/28, E-331/L-173 on 10/14.

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      23. Planning Retirement?

      The UFA website has an article prepared by UFA Retiree Liaison Jimmy Dahl advising members who are retired or are planning on retirement regarding various UFA Security Benefits Fund retiree coverage. The September/October Firelines has an article regarding updated benefits contact info. If you are getting close to retirement, make sure you understand the differences between active and retired benefits for prescription drugs, dental, optical and more.

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      24. UFA Board Members Address Retiree Conference

      The Broward County Retirees Association will be hosting a Retirees Conference November 13, 14 & 15th. The UFA & UFOA Executive Boards will participate. Much inaccurate and undocumented information has been circulated over the past few years regarding retired member pensions and health benefits. A large number of FDNY Retirees reside in Florida and have invited the UFA and UFOA Board Members to address the conference, answer questions and clarify the facts. UFA Retiree Liaison Jimmy Dahl notes that this conference is open to all UFA and UFOA retirees.

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      25. City Health/Medical Plan Transfer Period

      Per Dept Orders, the transfer period for active City employees will be October 16 through November 17, 2006. (Retiree transfer period is November 1 thru November 30). The new health plan chosen or any change in optional benefits will become effective January 7, 2007. Members who want to transfer from their present health plan coverage into another city health plan or add/drop the optional rider in their health plan must fill out the Health Benefits Application form (ERB) and submit it to the FDNY Health Benefits Unit, 6th floor, Bureau of Personnel, 9 Metrotech, Brooklyn, NY 11201 within the above mentioned period or Fax to 718-999-7139. You may also, during the transfer period, elect the waiver buy-out program and change health premium contribution tax status, by completing both the ERB and Medical Spending Conversion Form (MSC). Once you submit the ERB form, the transfer is irrevocable. Questions? Contact the FDNY Health Benefits Unit, Camille Isaacs at 718-999-2196 or Charles King at 718-999-2171. ERB forms can also be downloaded from the web at www.nyc.gov.html/olr or on the FDNY Intranet, Admin-Community/forms/employee benefits. City Health/Medical Plan vendors were present at the October 12 Union Meeting to answer questions and distribute literature.

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      26. UFA Dental Plan Transfer Period

      Dental Transfer Period for active and retired members is October 17th through December 30th, and become effective on January 1, 2007. Members interested in changing dental plans should request an application by calling or writing the UFA SBF office. The updated UFA SBF Booklet, which explains your dental coverage options, is in your Company's Delegate Manual. Updated booklets of that chapter will be distributed at the November Union Meeting. Healthplex, which manages the UFA Dentcare program (no out-of-pocket) & UFA Self Insured plan (pay & reimbursement), will be present at the November 9th Union meeting to distribute literature and answer questions.

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      27. National 'Do Not Call' Register

      You may stop telemarketing companies from calling your cell or home phones by calling the National 'Do Not Call' Register at 888-382-1222. It's easy and only takes a minute. It blocks your number for 5 years. You can also register via its website at www.donotcall.gov. The site also answers many questions. It is our understanding that cell phone numbers may soon be released to telemarketing companies. You may be charged for these calls.

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      28. FamilyLife Free Marriage Conference

      FamilyLife, the nationally known leader in marriage conferences, offers again this Winter, an opportunity for all FDNY members and spouses to attend a free marriage conference. This conference will offer you an opportunity to improve communication, inspire commitment and increase closeness in your marriage. Topics during the conference will include: Threats to great marriage, Effective communication, Conflict resolution, Marriage roles, Parental responsibility, God's purpose for marriage, Developing a satisfying sex life, and Modeling a healthy relationship for your children. The conferences will be held at the locations and dates listed below. FamilyLife will cover the cost of your hotel and conference registration. For information and to register for one of these conferences contact Battalion Chief Tom Byrne at 908-233-8675 or 908-482-9470 (cell):

      • Feb. 16-18 NY: Hyatt Regency Wind Watch Hotel, Hauppauge
      • March 16-18 NY: Wyndham Syracuse, East Syracuse
      • Feb. 16-18 PA: Hershey Lodge, Hershey (Weekend after Valentine's Day)
      • Feb. 23-25 MD: Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor, Baltimore

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      29. Volunteers Needed to Help Wounded Warriors at NY Marathon

      The FDNY VFW in conjunction with Wounded Warriors needs volunteers to help our disabled War Vets on NY Marathon weekend. Volunteers are needed both Saturday 11/4 and Sunday 11/5. We need people to help with getting the vets and their hand-crank bikes to the staging areas and then back again. Meet at the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines Club on Lexington Ave and East 37 St on Sat at 7AM and Sunday at 5AM. More info at WWW.FDNYVFW.COM and Paddy McElvaney L22 (917) 699-4827 and Paul Conrad (845)728-9869.

      Fraternally,

      Stephen J. Cassidy
      President

      Joseph A. Miccio
      Recording Secretary