Friday Update 7-9-21
Updated On: Aug 06, 2021

FRIDAY UPDATE


Sisters & Brothers,

As our Firefighters and our fire families continue to heal and rebuild, we also continue with important work affecting our members and members throughout the nation.  

The Surfside condo collapse in Miami has devastated the nation and our national fire family. As we learned of the loss of a Firefighter's daughter, our IAFF members continued working to rescue and recover the many lives lost.  The work as one can imagine is horrific and stressful. Post-traumatic and cumulative stress are a major concern as this incident moves to the end of recovery efforts.  Our Los Angeles County Fire Department Peer Support Team was called on once again to help and is on the ground in Miami to lead a team of IAFF Peers from across the nation to help close out the incident and start the healing. 

We are proud to always answer the call especially in light of our own pain over the past few weeks. Thank you to Chief Osby for supporting the mission as he always does, and Fire Chiefs and Unions throughout the nation continue to model our approach to “mutual aid” for peer support.  We will update you on their work as the week moves forward. 

Click above to view testimony from Firefighter Nichole Notte has been working the Champlain Towers South condo collapse in Surfside, near Miami Beach, for weeks. 

CCU Bargaining 

Local 1014 along with the members of the Coalition of County Unions (CCU) has been meeting and bargaining with the County regarding our fringe benefits.  We have two contracts we operate under, our salary contracts and our fringe benefits contract.  The fringe contract expired on June 30, 2021 and bargaining has been in full swing as we work to get benefit levels set for 2022.  We have met formally four times trading proposals and counter-proposals.  The work primarily centers on costs of health care premiums and increases in coverage for insurance to include medical, dental, and vision.  In addition, we are focused on Juneteenth as a nationally recognized holiday that we would like to capture for recognition at the County. We also are dealing with COVID reimbursement funds from the Federal Government and trying to capture our workers' service in the mix.  The table broke down hard on Wednesday evening.  This item is now set for the Board of Supervisors' (BOS) closed session on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.  We will be applying pressure and educating the BOS and the CEO as we seek to settle a simple agreement.  The County's short-term financial outlook is very good to support our proposals that are not only fundable but fair.  Stay tuned and be prepared if we need your help to carry the message to the public or to the BOS at a meeting. 

Click here to read our letter from the CCU regarding fringe benefit negotiations 

Bargaining Continues Between the Union and the Department 

Last week we had the first of what promises to be regular and recurring meetings between Local 1014 and the Department to add ress issues regarding the Sierra Incident and also working condition items that were highlighted as a result.   

We have made great progress in a short amount of time to get some things in place. “Team Building” will be a common theme as we work to restore camaraderie and teamwork to our fire stations, dispatch center, camps, forestry, fire prevention, and hazmat offices.  Team Sports were reinstated after lengthy negotiations. While the Department remains hesitant about it in the long term, they recognize the short-term impact for our members.  Please take care to treat this with respect.

Additionally, the tolling of online training except critical mandatory training and a return to in-person multi-company drilling has been a source of teamwork and team building for all our members as well as an opportunity to give back to the newer members of our Department in a way that is meaningful.  “Captains Run Your Stations and BC’s Support The Mission” is a top-down mantra that the Chief moved to support and we will continue to press that approach.  It works. 

We also have negotiated major operational administrative changes for oversight to critical work that has seen a disconnect between admin and operations, and while the movement is positive there is still work to be done and negotiations continue with the Fire Chief in this area. We thank the Chief for showing up to address our issues in a collaborative manner and the immediate product has been positive for us all.  We also continue to remind all that the work is far from done, and with BOS involvement in partnership with Local 1014, accountability for continued work product.

Some of the most important issues to be addressed in a follow-up meeting are those relating to promotions and vacancies and the net effect on our members' days off. Sworn Chief Officers with 1014 Executive Board Members to address both long-term and short-term solutions for our staffing shortage. 

First and foremost vacancies at all levels continue to be the primary cause of all things relating to recalls, and the inability to take benefit time. Constant hiring and promotions annually are the core fix to the problem. Specifically, the Engineers' rank is the most affected. The meeting concentrated on how to expedite the current Engineers test to translate into members in the seats with upfront training and follow-up engineer academies with 1A, 1B, and 1C elements.  We have been pushing hard to have the Department in agreement with the Union to put in motion plans and tell DHR and Big County to make it work.  

We have three major items we are addressing. First, we are working for an expedited appeal process on individuals who have an issue with one station of the practical exam but a certain level of standard on the remaining to be able to recapture the moment, reset and demonstrate competency in a retake of that event only.  Usually, appeals for a variety of reasons are successful and months later we have retests.  Director Pat Dolan along with Chief O Brien are working on this with a small fast-acting committee.

Second, we are also working on a process to allow immediate promotions and placement as soon as individuals successfully complete their practical exams.  The goal is for all individuals who successfully complete the exam to be promoted in the fast possible time.  This is outside the box thinking and completely foreign to the County but we are driving this hard with BOS help. 

Finally, we want to evaluate the numbers of Engineer vacancies after all successful candidates are promoted and if the vacancy percentage remains critical, an acting firefighter specialist program will be proposed.  The Engineer vacancy rate soars above 23% and needs immediate attention.  The Captains list was set to expire and the remaining candidates were promoted before the list expired.  While this adds to the vacancy rate for Engineers, it had been done with regard to the list expiration and also in combination with the aforementioned Engineers exam variances to expedite promotions. 

We can ill afford to move slow on this and in fact, the Captains list is now used up and a Captains Exam process in motion that will also require steps to expedite the exam and the appeals and promotions as Captains also hover near 21% vacancy rate.  The FF and PM positions while much more stable, also require a plan for constant hiring through 2021 and into 2022 and we negotiated sworn chief oversight with BOS involvement to mandate a plan for annual testing and promotions.  Our testing cadre has come up with a few very good ideas that center on rapid testing. Current procedures take too much time and in fact, are never consistently ready with lists.  This is a work in progress but rest assured we are negotiating an overhaul for how the Department approaches entry-level testing and promotional processes.  The Chief took responsibility for this issue and has pulled in the best from the sworn chief ranks and union ranks with subject matter experts to craft a plan that will work.  Stay tuned. 

Short-term “bandaid” staffing solutions have been flooding in and a body of work that was already in progress continues to be negotiated and discussed with Chief Deputy of Operations Pena, Chief O Brien and Union Vice Presidents Lew Currier and Kurt Kobler.  The meeting was intense and follow-up work will continue this week for possible agreement on several items.
 

The Department has been provided all information with details for logistics, operational concerns, and approval of a 48/96 One Year Trial Shift Schedule Change. This item remains one of the most majority supported tools to improve schedule control even with vacancies.  President Gillotte spoke with the Chief today. He is diligently considering all aspects of the proposal and is set to respond back next Monday or Tuesday. 

Finally, workers' compensation injury vacancies are also part of the problem plaguing our staffing issues, and we have begun meeting to address this issue that will require much work on its own to correct course. At the state level, Local 1014, along with our partners in the CPF are lobbying SB 335 which is a state bill seeking to address ongoing problems with presumptive workers' compensation injuries being unreasonable denied and treatment being withheld.  The bill seeks to impose deeper penalties on employers and TPA’s faces significant opposition from employer and TPA administrator organizations that seek to continue practices that result in delay or denial of our members' claims. 

It is imperative that we incentivize the TPA’s and employers to review these claims in good faith and reach well-reasoned and substantiated decisions for acceptance or denial of a claim.  We are a self-funded organization and cost savings with regard to backfill and medical costs will be realized as we also get our members treated and back to work in a more timely manner.  This bill is set for the Insurance Committee on Tuesday, July 13, 2021 and President Gillotte is heading to Sacramento to weigh in with our LA County Legislators to move this out of committee and forward in the legislative process.  This will aid our work at the County and Department level.  


Fire Family Team Building Continues 

Please send us your pictures and stories of fire station life including team sports, line up, drills, and more that reflect how positive leaders' intent can be in our stations. 

Pictured above: Avalon Fire, Baywatch, and LACoFD members training on ropes and rigging for stretcher evolutions often used on Catalina Island.  In the words of Baywatch Avalon Boat Captain and former LACOLA Board member, “Training should be not only based on what we do, but it should be fun again”.  These are true words as we move back to physical training and multi-company drills that feed more than just our skill levels.  

In solidarity and strength, as we continue to work on important issues affecting our members' and our families' lives.   


In Solidarity, 

President Dave Gillotte and the Local 1014 Executive Board 

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