65-2 #44 August 03, 2006

Union Issues

  • UFA Contract Update
  • Legislative Update
  • UFA Prescription Drug Cap Increases to $6500
  • Apparatus Safety
  • Wear safety Gear and Buckle Up!!
  • Heat Stress
  • WTC Lung Illness
  • Grievance/Arbitration Update: E75 L33 Involuntary Transfers
  • Grievance/Arbitration Update: Medical Leave Lifts
  • Dept of Homeland Security Interviews Members
  • EEO & Drug Raids, Random tests
  • Holiday Retro
  • New Phone System Enhances Member Service
  • New UFAWebsite Upgrades

    Events, Help, Fundraisers & Benefits:

  • FDNY Day at Shea
  • 9/11 Family Liaisons Luncheon

      1. UFA Contract Update

      President Cassidy discussed upcoming contract issues with the Delegate Body and members at the June 8th General Membership Meeting. On June 20th, the UFA Executive Board and Labor Attorney Mike Axelrod began formal sit-down negotiations with the City regarding our contract, which expired on July 31st, though all existing contractual obligations remain in effect until a new agreement is reached. A follow-up contract negotiation session took place on July 25th at OLR with the entire Board and counsel present. The UFA is the first uniformed union to begin contract negotiations in this round. A report regarding progress will be presented to the members at the September Union Meeting.

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      2. Legislative Update

      The UFA has secured the passage of a number of bills through both the Assembly and Senate. The Stroke Bill, Terminal Leave Bill, and WTC Death Benefit Bill are still awaiting transmittal to the Governor for his action. At this time we do not know what day they will be sent to the Governor. They must be sent over by December 31st but we expect them to be sent sooner. We will continue to lobby his office heavily in order to fight for these important issues and will keep you updated on this and other legislation.

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      3. UFA Prescription Drug Cap Increases to $6500

      The UFA Executive Board has recently voted to increase the Annual Drug Cap for active members and widows and/or eligible dependents of our line of duty members. The current cap will be raised from $5000 to $6500 effective August 1, 2006 in order to better assist our families with the escalating cost of drugs. This was made possible through savings generated by our new Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) as well as additional resources provided in our last contract agreement.

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      4. Apparatus Safety

      UFA Health & Safety Officer Bill Romaka advises that when your company receives a spare apparatus (or your apparatus after repairs) it is extremely important that the Chauffeur and Officer inspect it to make certain it is in-fact repaired and safe. A Manhattan company recently had its damaged ladder returned after a few days-unrepaired-rendering it useless to fight fires requiring rear mount ladder operations. Do not accept a rig that cannot perform its function and may be hazardous to our membership. Do not go back in service until critical apparatus functions have been tested and are safely functional, in accordance with Dept policy. Refuse it on the spot if there is a problem. You are violating Dept policy and jeopardizing Firefighter and public safety to do otherwise.

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      5. Wear safety Gear and Buckle Up!!

      UFA Health & Safety Officer Bill Romaka stresses that it is of paramount importance that you properly wear all your personal protective equipment, and remember to wear your seatbelts when you get on the apparatus outside of quarters. With two of our members seriously injured over the last 8 months due to falls from their rigs, coupled with the dilapidated state of the Department's fleet of apparatus, we remind you of the Safety Division's recommendation to wear your seatbelts when responding at all times. Because the current rigs are in such poor condition we must do all we can to ensure a safe arrival at all alarms. If there is a problem with the seatbelts or anything else on the apparatus, it is important to properly notify Fleet Service and document the reason in the Company Journal.

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      6. Heat Stress

      Please take the time to read Safety Bulletin #87, "Summer Heat Stress" (as referenced in UFA Safety Message #13), on precautions to take and what to do should you be suffering from heat exhaustion. If you are out on building inspections or other outside activities during excessive heat and are called upon for fire duty; it is important that that you notify the UFA Health & Safety Office if for any heat related reason you are injured or become ill.

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      7. WTC Lung Illness

      UFA President Steve Cassidy issued a press release (see attached) regarding the alarming data produced by the FDNY and Mt. Sinai documenting the significant debilitating health impact that exposure to Trade Center air has had on NYC Firefighters. The media has recently been covering this matter and the UFA continues to press this issue.

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      8. Grievance/Arbitration Update: E75 L33 Involuntary Transfers

      UFA Recording Secretary Joe Miccio and UFA Labor Attorney Mike Axelrod report that the latest hearing took place on August 1st at the Office of Labor Relations before Arbitrator Maurice Benowitz, with the Chief of Department and Chief of Operations present. Two lifted FFs and Bronx Trustee Eddie Brown testified as UFA witnesses. A 4th UFA witness was unable to attend due a LOD Injury. The next hearing date, at which the City will present witnesses, has not yet been scheduled.

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      9. Grievance/Arbitration Update: Medical Leave Lifts

      The latest hearing took place on June 27 before Arbitrator Al Viani. More testimony dates will be scheduled after August. Recording Secretary Joe Miccio and the UFA legal team led by Mike Axelrod are reviewing all records the Dept reviewed in considering the lifts. This is not just about those it impacts now. The UFA believes this practice by the Department is a deceptive way of punishing firefighters for aggressively doing their jobs. Our objective is to end to this practice-now and for every firefighter in the future! The UFA will never back down in its efforts to defend our members' rights.

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      10. Dept of Homeland Security Interviews Members

      The UFA was notified by the Fire Dept and the Department of Homeland Security that they have randomly selected 36 Firefighters and Officers to be interviewed on training that was funded by DHS which had already been given. The interview will be brief consisting of the following 2 questions: (1) Did you receive this training?, and (2) How did you like the training? If any member is asked to answer questions regarding any other matter, contact the UFA immediately.

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      11. 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.

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      12. Holiday Retro

      All retroactive holiday money due was paid in the June 30 paycheck. The July 28 paycheck included regular holiday pay due at full current rates. All other retroactive monies due, including any OT, have already been paid. Members who believe there has been an error in their paychecks should submit a payroll inquiry (include all proper documentation) with the assistance of your Officer.

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      13. New Phone System Enhances Member Service

      UFA Recording Secretary & Information Technology Chairman Joe Miccio reports that a new telephone system which improves member services has been designed and installed at the UFA and the Security Benefits Fund. The new system still allows members to immediately speak with our operator by pressing "0", and also allows you the choice to directly reach UFA employees and UFA Departments via the greeting message options. As always, Board Members can be reached via the operator during business hours or via the UFA answering service for after-hours emergencies.

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      14. New UFA Website Upgrades

      The UFA has engaged the services of a new web design and maintenance company, and continues to work on the yet to be released design and functionality. In the near future, the members will be seeing a more modern website with enhanced member service capabilities-and simplified ease of use. The new provider also provides legal guidance and representation for all web planning and content, which has become an increasing liability concern in general for all organizations that host websites. Members with suggestions and recommendations regarding the upgraded site can contact UFA Recording Secretary & Information Technology Chairman Joe Miccio at Recording Secretary@UFANYC.org.

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      15. FDNY Day at Shea

      Sunday August 20th @ 1:10 PM. New York Mets vs. Colorado Rockies. Discount tickets are available to Firefighters, friends and family through the online Group Ticket Window. Available seats in Upper Level, Reserved, or Mezzanine Box. Children under 12 can participate in the Dynamets Dash around the bases after the game. For tix visit www.nymets.com, click on "Group Tickets," and then "Group Ticket window. Sign-in ID is "FIRE" and Password is "METS," all are in caps. Contact Emily Hetzner at 718-559-3037 with any questions.

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      16. 9/11 Family Liaisons Luncheon

      Fri. September 8th for all 9/11 family liaisons, CSU Peers, Bag Pipe Members, Ceremonial Unit members after 9/11. Taking place at Sequoia Restaurant in the South Street Seaport at 11:30 AM. Firehouse members are asked to contact all retired members from your company that helped out. For info contact Phil Duncan FDNY-CSU 917-468-5151.


      Stephen J. Cassidy

      Joseph A,. Miccio
      Recording Secretary