Brothers and Sisters,
As we continue to serve on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also seeing the enconomic impact of this pandemic not only in our communities but in our forecasted revenue for the County of Los Angeles. Your Local 1014 Union, is doing everything in its power to continue to fight for the resources, staffing, wages, hours, and working conditions our members deserve as we fight this pandemic. Make no mistake, this will be a difficult recovery process for our County. It is critical that we remain in solidarity with each other and that we continue to provide first-class service to our residents. Your Union is working hard on the legislative, political, and departmental fronts to ensure that we weather this storm and that we continue to make critical items like staffing a priority for our future.
The economic impact from the closure of businesses and the loss of sales tax not only affects the businesses but also the County. We have been engaged and involved with our partners in Labor through the Coalition of County Unions (CCU).
Together with the CEO and the BOS we have formed a team to work on State and Federal legislation to ensure CARES 3.5 and CARES 4.0 currently being crafted will reach the County of Los Angeles as “Revenue Loss Replacement”. Within that effort is the IAFF and CPF with Local affiliates work to ensure that the UASI, SAFER and FIREACT Grant funding is moved from 75% to 100% funding along with the addition of SAFER Act waivers allowing for “retention of personnel”. This was critical to keep job loss and staffing reductions to a minimum during the last recession and will be even more critically nationally now.
Our Fire Department is unique in that we are a “Fire District” and Local 1014 along with the Department Chiefs throughout the years made ourselves an annexed department as well as a “special district” within California. Meaning, we are exempt from ERAF (Education Funds to the State) and get a pass-through of our property tax collections as a special district. No elected body can touch those funds which keeps us safe when times are good from a property tax perspective, but also means we can receive no help when we hit hard times. We do receive a small portion of County General Fund for Lifeguard Services, but we joined LACoLA (Lifeguard Union) in working with Supervisor Don Knabe to ensure a line item amount that is secure from the County General Fund.
Last week, it was reported that the County is facing a $2 billion shortfall in the coming months in sales tax alone due to COVID-19. This is significant and you have already seen the County make changes to adjust to this funding shortfall. They have come after the 401k and 457k match money for starters. With all bargaining units coming to the table at the end of this year, they have already cut budgets to the General Fund Departments including the Sheriff’s Department. Public Safety is considered essential services and, of course, the public will demand proper service levels in this time of critical need, but we are not immune from the negative funding effects of this crisis.
We have begun working with the County CEO and BOS and the Fire Chief to quantify what that impact may be to us and the County. The impact will likely hit in 2021 and planning for how to absorb that in the best and prioritized way becomes critical for all CCU members. We want to keep high in the priority proper staffing levels, wages, benefits including healthcare and retirement at the top of the list while maintaining safe working conditions. Good numbers will become the key ingredient for any and all discussions about budget. We are in a contract and we have not agreed to open up on anything on the salary or fringe benefit side and will not entertain any such discussions until we all agree on the numbers.
We will keep you informed as we progress in this effort as we work on our own situation as a Special District, but also along with our CCU partners with regard to the Fringe Contract as well. We should all be markedly concerned about the revenue loss and vigilant to keep the public on our side through our great service and commitment to the mission while we work this out. Even retirees should keep their heads up and be mindful of social media posts and interactions. We are positioned very well to handle this rough time but it will not be business as usual for some time. Be good to each other as we enter this environment and in strength and solidarity.
Los Angeles County Fire Fighter’s Local 1014 members are truly fortunate that we have seen only 18 positive COVID-19 out of a nearly 3,200 member workforce. We have had about 200 folks on watch status and all members returned to work healthy. We have been able to keep our members healthy and while other agencies like Torrance, Chicago, FDNY have not been so fortunate. But we have simply been "lucky”. The reason we have seen low numbers is because of the use of PPE and the Practices and Policies we crafted together with the Department, County Public Health, and our Medical Director Dr. Clayton Kazan.
We worked very hard to secure the PPE. We were 3-4 weeks ahead of the nation on our policies and practices to screen at work, mandate PPE use with masks on us and patients, use of gowns and goggles especially in aerosolizing procedures. We are in good shape because we rose to the occasion.
Our biggest concern now is complacency and a softening of our practices and procedures at a time when the second wave of COVID could hit. The political rhetoric and misinformation on social media and in the media also serves to fuel complacency and reduced support from our members during this critical time. We will not support a softening of practices nor procedures with regard to our needs on calls. In Dr. Kazan’s words, we should treat EVERY PATIENT as if they are COVID positive and continue to abide by the strict use of PPE.
We are calling on our Local 1014 membership, regardless of your “take on things” to absolutely and without variance follow the PPE rules and procedures to keep not only yourself safe, but our families at home and the public we serve. Look to see more on this as we enter the next few weeks through Union Posts, EA’s and the FIRESYNC app. Stay safe and please REMAIN VIGILANT.
Local 1014 along with the California Professional Firefighters (CPF) have been pushing for greater protections for our members. We are pleased to announce that we now have CPF-sponsored state legislation for COVID-19 PRESUMPTION for our members.
If passed, AB 664 will ensure that firefighters, law enforcement officers and healthcare workers responding to the COVID-19 crisis will be eligible for workplace protection should they contract the virus or any other communicable disease when a state or local government emergency is declared. Protections include full medical and disability coverage, and death benefits as wells as temporary disability payments for any periods of ordered quarantine.
Thank you to the incredible coalition of coauthors of this bill: Assemblyman Jim Cooper (D- Elk Grove), Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D- San Diego) and Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D- Alameda) and Senator Tom Umberg (D- Santa Ana), as well as, Assemblymembers Aguiar-Curry (D- Winters), Burke (D- Inglewood), Chen (R- Yorba Linda), Chiu (D- San Francisco), Flora (R- Ripon), Lackey (R- Palmdale), McCarty (D- Sacramento), Petrie-Norris (D- Irvine), and Waldron (R- Escondido), State Senators Hueso (D- San Diego) and Stern (D- Calabasas).
We will have more on this as we continue to build a strong coalition of support and fight to get this critically important bill passed once the legislature resumes its sessions.
Next week our Brother Derek Urwin will participate in a Facebook live event with CPF, Clean Water Action, and Senator Ben Allen regarding our support of SB 1044, CPF’s co-sponsored legislation to phase out the usage of PFAS in firefighting foams. SB 1044, by State Senator Ben Allen(D-Santa Monica), would ban the manufacture, sale, and use of firefighting foam containing PFAS. It also would mandate that manufacturers of firefighting gear include a written notice if the equipment contains PFAS chemicals. These “forever chemicals” do not break down in the environment, and have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, reproductive and immune system harm, liver or thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, high cholesterol, and other health problems.
PFAS Video Debut and Q&A Session
Tuesday, May 5 from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Click here to RSVP to the chat or to submit a question for the Q&A session: cleanwateraction.org/pfas-movie
Thank you to our long-standing friend Assemblymember Phillip Chen (R) for securing a donation of 10,000 disposable surgical masks from Condor Outdoor Products, Inc and their Irwindale location! These masks will be used to help our members and members of the public prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Thank you to Assemblymember Chen for always supporting our members in our mission to serve the public. Chen is also one of the coalition of coauthors for our California Professional Firefighters sponsored COVID-19 Presumption Bill (AB 664) we will be fighting to pass to protect our members.
As always, please get your information from reliable and confirmed sources: Local 1014, Department EA’s, IAFF and CPF as well as FireSync App which all have COVID-19 information links with the COVID-19 reporting link as well.
Stay safe; take care of each other. Remember that your conduct both on and off duty with regard to social distancing, cleaning and proper PPE makes a difference in not only your health but the health of those you work with and their families. Be responsible and let us all do our part.
In Solidarity and Strength,
President Dave Gillotte and the Local 1014 Executive Board