Sisters and Brothers,
We continue to fight for our members and their families as we see vaccine mandates sweep across the nation. While the Board of Supervisors' goal was to vaccinate more employees through this mandate, this was the wrong move. The County of LA vaccine mandate not only shocked most labor organizations who were not consulted but also served to divide workers and in particular the public safety workers who have been on the frontline of COVID for the last 18 months. Local 1014 and other public safety unions like ALADS and LACOLA have opposed this mandate.
Local 1014 has taken a lead role in the Coalition of County Unions (CCU) along with ALADS to ensure our interests are protected. President Gillotte made a motion to hire long-time labor attorney and FMLA, ADA and EEOC specialist Will Aitcheson of Labor Relations Information Systems (LRIS). Considered one of the best attorneys in the country for Firefighters issues, he is now the CCU legal representative at the bargaining table. We have been at the table multiple days each week hammering away at each and every line of the proposed policy.
President Gillotte has assigned both Vice Presidents Currier and Kobler along with Directors Reade and Carcioppolo to the table. Each brings a unique perspective to the table where we are legally empowered to handle this issue. We anticipate bargaining through September.
While this is deeply personal for each and every one of us, we want to remind our members to be smart. We are still public employees and we have limitations as to what you can and cannot say while at work and in uniform. As we bargain over this item, uncoordinated messaging to the elected officials and the public can have a negative impact on bargaining as we work to eliminate a vaccine mandate. We are in the heat of battle with the County. Remain calm and protect yourselves and stay vigilant and follow the rules at work during this time more than ever. Don’t give anyone a reason to come after you.
We are calling on members to stand together in solidarity, no matter how you feel about the vaccine, the mandate, or any other aspect of this issue. Management would like nothing better than to divide and conquer us on this issue and many other issues. We have seen the social media and videos and letters from members throughout the state who have exclaimed their frustration and anger. While we understand the sentiment, we as a Union are stronger together than apart and the Local is committed to representing ALL members feelings and sentiments on this issue.
Finally, we urge all members to not submit to any line of questioning or electronic query until we are done bargaining over this issue and have sent out information on this matter. Just this week the CEO Fesia Davenport sent out an e-mail to us all indicating you “may” register with Fulgent, a private contractor who has been hired to house and track all information on COVID vaccine status, and “must” register if you fall under the state deadlines for certain worker classifications. Local 1014 members DO NOT fall under any of those classifications and we urge restraint and do not condone early registration as we have an entirely separate meeting on security issues and electronic data housing laws. We have made our points with the CEO and County and they acknowledge they put this out early to try and get as many people as they could to comply with the state order. Stand by on the system issues at a minimum until we finish bargaining and put out a communique on the resolve.
Please look for the updates on this issue as things are changing weekly and be sure you are registered to get our weekly email and other electronically sent information for our members only. Please reach out to any Board Member of the Local if you haven’t read the updates or the letters we have sent to County, and ask questions to get real-time accurate information. This Executive Board is putting in countless hours each week on this item alone. We are also looking forward to the next General Membership Meeting on September 14th. We are working on hosting a virtual town hall for all members with our attorneys and experts. We look to have that set and up for a week or two after the General Membership meeting to provide a place for all members to plug in as we know not everyone will be able to make the meeting. Look for information and registration info for the member-only webinar coming soon.
Local 1014 Executive Board and President Gillotte have engaged Sacramento to try and increase our funding from the State affecting Forestry and Wildland. State senator Henry Stern has taken up our cause and authored a pilot funding effort with trailer bills to authorize $27 million of SRA monies to go to LA County to help with our brush areas. This money would help offset our efforts allowing more financial flexibility in the Camps in particular. We may not get this done as this is the first time a Local Union and Municipal Fire Department has tried to gain status with the state to get direct funding as part of the budget. Previously only Cal-Fire has received budget allocations.
This is separate from budget money for salary and benefits etc. but rather from a dedicated wildfire budget that must be approved by the legislature and signed by the Governor. President Rice from CPF and the legislative team are engaged with Local 1014 to lobby our representatives for support on this matter including courting a Governor’s signature. This would be unprecedented if we get this done, and set the tone that each year we along with over 7,000 contract counties agencies will be back to get our share as the protecting agencies for wildfire mitigation.