Brothers and Sisters,
Today is International Women’s Day—in celebration, we not only salute all our strong union sisters who serve our communities each day, we also look to the future to continue to push for innovation in our LACoFD recruitment and hiring system that allows us to find the best and brightest, including a movement to the FCTC written and CPAT testing administered through CAL-JAC. As week 2 wraps up at the LACoFD Women’s Fire Prep Academy, we look to see more strong women in the fire service in the near future! Only when the Department embraces these changes will women’s camps feed our hiring list and allow us to actually hire the people that we recruit and train. Local 1014 is committed to making this a priority for the Chief and the Board of Supervisors moving forward.
President Gillotte met with Chief Osby again today to address working condition items. We have reached an agreement to lift the CAP to 100 shifts, and to re-evaluate the issue again in 30 days and every 30 days until the end of the fiscal year. Local 1014 Executive Board worked tirelessly to bring not only your testimonials but also the data to justify the lifting of the CAP to help working conditions and operational needs. Thank you to all who helped with this and again thank you to the Chief for listening once we got this item past the Chief Deputy level.
Additionally, many other issues were addressed and a more detailed report on progress will be sent separately, but we want to highlight a major issue that is driving a lot of the negative impact items we are seeing from the Chief Deputies and down the chain. You have all heard or read news about the Department’s budget deficit and the impact on our services, tools, equipment and staffing.
Local 1014 met with the Department and analyzed the budget as we often do. We have found that some of the early proposed or actual cuts to the budget are not only unnecessary but not prioritized properly. We have proposed to the Chief to meet with both the Executive Board of Local 1014 and the Executive Staff of the Department as we did with Chief Freeman during economic downturn years to develop a comprehensive strategy to trim costs, realize economic efficiencies, shore up operations and essential tools equipment and training necessary to do our job and protect emergency staffing. The Fire Chief has agreed, and we look forward to working together on a plan.
For now, know that there is no reason to panic. We have a robust budget that needs prioritization, we have reserves over $100 million, and while a “zero based budget”, as the Department's Deputies, administrative sworn and civilian Chief’s keep touting, is a valiant and worthy goal, but not realistic in some downturn years. A plan that incorporates responsible budgeting, chasing new one-time and recurring revenues, and use of reserves to weather a downturn is a best practice for public and private entities alike.
We will be collaborating with the Department to reach an agreement on how we deal with the budget shortfall, but for now if the Chief Deputies, Administrative Chiefs or anyone commenting on budget driven cuts or proposed cuts hits your stations or emails notify the Local. We are dealing with rumors of cuts to everything from the ECMS turnout cleaning to cancellation of Paramedic training to other operational needs items. We will be dealing with these proposals directly and rest assured no working conditions items that involve safety of our members will be cut. The Fire Chief has committed to addressing these issues directly. Some of these items he had not been briefed on and has acted immediately to address.
This week, Local 1014 was proud to host IAFF Peer Support Training for our members at the Union Hall. Over 30 of our members attended and are now Peer Certified with the International Association of Fire Fighters. Growing our Peer Program is a major component of expanding our Behavioral Health Program within the LACoFD. As we look to address the growing problem of post traumatic and cumulative stress injuries, we need every tool available to us, including our most important resource, our members.
Special thank you to Captain Scott Ross, IAFF Peer Support Master Instructor and Dan Parker for teaching this class and the strong support from Assistant Chief Breshears to make this happen.
This is something that we would like to thank the Fire Chief for moving on immediately. Getting Captain Ross into a 40-hour position and seeing movement on this from the top down has made a big impact already in our ability to implement changes to the Peer Program. While we still have a lot of work to do in this area, such as the recruitment and hiring of a permanent dedicated mental health clinician who is fire centric and culturally competent for our Department, we have made significant progress over the past month on this item and more to follow in the next 30 days.
Additionally, please see attached flyer for a special interactive workshop for couples in the fire service taking place in April at the Union Hall and hosted by Dr. Mynda Ohs, PhD and founder of Fully Involved Life.
As we said before, while we work to settle the table at with the Coalition of County Unions (CCU) for our fringe benefits, our language for our MOU has been finalized so we can move forward with a Board of Supervisor ratification vote. We will update you once the Board of Supervisors agendizes the MOU and moves to a vote.
This is a tedious and frustrating but necessary step to ensure LACERA has language compliant with pension considerations especially for our Plan C members. We are pushing as hard on this as we can and know that all other Unions are in the same position including the Sheriff’s who are back for a second rewrite on non-LACERA approved language. We blame the CEO directly for these delays and lack of capture for the process. We will be informing the Board of Supervisors as well as possibly filing unfair labor practice charges. We will update you weekly as we work to get this done.
These are strained times and we will continue to work with the Chief and the Department when they work with us. We have indicated to them, we are not asking for permission to deal with these issues politically, legally or administratively, we are seeking collaboration on the issues. Either way we are going to ensure the issues are handled.
Again thank you to the Fire Chief for showing up to handle the issues, we will continue to monitor progress on these items and update you. Have a great weekend and be safe.