65-2 #54 July 07, 2011

Union Issues


1. All 20 Companies Saved!
The Mayor and City Council reached a budget agreement on June 24th, which restored funding for all 20 companies that were slated to be closed. The UFA and UFOA rallied support around the City with a PR campaign that informed the public about the dangers of closing companies. We lobbied all our key elected officials and received overwhelming support from the City Council to stop all firehouse closings. New Yorkers came together at over 50 community rallies to save fire companies. This was clearly democracy in action as communities raised their voices and expressed just how much of a lifeline their local firehouse is. Keeping all the firehouses open is a major victory for public safety, but our fight is far from over. We are certain we will have to deal with this issue again for next year's budget, if not sooner.

We would like to thank City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (Chair of the Fire & Criminal Justice Services Committee) and all City Council members who supported our efforts. We would also like to thank the IAFF and NYSPFFA for their financial support and other assistance. The UFA Executive Board would like to thank all members who turned out for rallies and press conferences. Your efforts were significant to achieving our victory.

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2. Pension Protection Bill Passes State Senate & Assembly
Our proposed Pension Protection Bill legislation passed in both the State Senate and Assembly, and is now awaiting action by Governor Cuomo. If the governor signs it, this legislation provides that if a member with at least 20 years of creditable police or fire service in the retirement system is dismissed for reasons other than a felony conviction, that member shall not be precluded from any rights.

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3. Roster Staffing Interim Decision & Order by BCB
The Board of Collective Bargaining issued its interim decision and order for our Roster Staffing case. The BCB sustained the UFA's right to proceed forward with the Improper Practice case as follows: "ORDERED, that a hearing be held before a Trial Examiner designated by the Office of Collective Bargaining for the purpose establishing a record upon which this Board may determine whether there has been a practical impact on the safety of Firefighters and Fire Officers as a result of the City's reduction in engine company staffing..." The UFA will keep the membership informed of important updates.

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4. IAFF General President Addresses Delegates
International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) General President Harold Schaitberger was our special guest speaker at the June 16 Union Meeting. President Schaitberger discussed the importance of unions and what is being done to combat the nationwide trend of all-out attacks in the media and by elected officials on union pensions and benefits.

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5. Proposed Tier 6 Legislation
Steve Cassidy and Jim Slevin were in Albany in June to meet with State legislators regarding the Mayor's and Governor's proposed Tier 6 legislation. An update was provided at the June 16th Union Meeting to all Delegates. Subsequent to the Union Meeting and Albany visit, no Tier 6 legislation was passed in this last legislative session in Albany.

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6. VSF Update
The Legislature's session recently ended with no Albany lawmaker willing to introduce a VSF change bill. The UFA/PBA's Fire & Police Public Safety Alliance will continue to combat Mayor Bloomberg's outright lies and misinformation campaign to adversely influence the public and elected officials about police and fire pensions and the Variable Supplement Fund (VSF). We have used our resources to educate our elected officials and the media regarding issues that affect Firefighters and Police Officers, including press conferences, political lobbying and paid advertising.

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7. Deutsche Bank Criminal Trial Concludes
Testimony at the criminal trial resulting from the Deutsche Bank fire tragedy has concluded. The jury announced their acquittal of two of the construction supervisors charged in the case. The corporate defendant (Gault Corp.) and another construction manager waived a jury trial. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Rena Uviller acquitted the John Galt Corp. and its asbestos abatement chief, of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide. However, the John Galt Corp. was found guilty of second-degree reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor with a likely $5,000 fine.

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8. Annual Improved Benefits Plan Opener
As per Dept. Order No. 41 "the Improved Benefits Plan is open for membership to all Original Plan Members from June 1, 2011 to August 31, 2011. For those members who elect to join, the Pension Bureau must receive applications no later than 1700 hours on August 31, 2011. Additional applications may be requested by contacting the Pension Bureau at 718-999-1211."

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9. Zadroga Bill Update
A new special master, Sheila Birnbaum, Esq., has been appointed to supervise the award process under the new Victim Compensation Fund created by the Zadroga Bill. She is a highly experienced and respected attorney who is very familiar with the evaluation of injury/illness claims. The proposed regulations for the Fund were recently published and the public has 45 days to submit any comments before they become final. We expect that the actual claim process will start in October 2011.

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10. 3rd Day of BI Improper Practice
The UFA and City submitted final briefs on this case in April and we continue to await a ruling from the Board of Collective Bargaining. Details of the case were discussed with Delegates during special workshops at the Delegate Education Seminar in May. If successful, the City will be required to bargain with the UFA over the safety impact created by expansion of the AFID program.

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11. Asbestos Abatement Negotiations
As was previously announced to all members, the BCB ruled in 2010 that the City of NY and the FDNY violated NYCCBL 12-306 (a)(4) when they refused to bargain in good faith concerning their decision to assign Firefighters to asbestos-abatement related duties, for approximately one week, after the 2007 Con Edison steampipe explosion on Lexington Ave. in Manhattan. Negotiations with the City and FDNY, as mandated in the ruling, last took place on June 22 at the Office of Collective Bargaining. This process is continuing forward with follow-up communications between the parties. Members will be informed as soon as a determination is made.

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12. UCT Case Update
The last Unified Call Taker hearing at the OCB took place on June 21. The next scheduled dates for our hearings are July 19, 27, August 2 and 4. The UFA and UFOA are working together on this case.

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13. Start-of-Tour Under / Reduced Staffing Grievance Filed
The UFA filed its case in June and would like to thank all Delegates who provided documentation each time this occurred in their units. Start-of-Tour under/reduced staffing occurs most frequently on night tours immediately following Company Medicals or Annual Education Day, and also after a member is injured late on any tour. Units are being placed in service while still awaiting details to start the tour, in violation of AUC 287. If your Engine is ordered to ride Under Staffed (3 or fewer FFs) or Ladder Reduce Staffed (4 FFs) at the start of the tour, you are still encouraged to fax the 'Starting Tour Understaffed' Form and your Officer's Unusual Occurrence Report (if available) to the UFA, Attn: Joseph Miccio, Recording Secretary, at 212-683-4359, which will help our case. Also, immediately notify the UFA if any Firefighter or civilian is seriously injured due to this staffing reduction!

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14. Understaffed Unit Injury Reporting
Any member who becomes injured in the Line-of-Duty while working in an *Understaffed Engine or Under/Reduced Staffed Ladder is requested to notify your Delegate. The Delegate or another member of the unit should fax a copy of the Officer's Unusual Occurrence Report (if prepared by your Officer) and any additional pertinent information to the UFA at 212-683-4359 or 212-683-0710, ATTN: Joe Miccio, Recording Secretary. Immediately notify the UFA if any firefighter or civilian is seriously injured due to this staffing reduction!

*UNDERSTAFFED UNIT: Per AUC 287, any engine or ladder riding with fewer than 4 Firefighters (3 or less) is Understaffed. A ladder riding with 4 Firefighters is defined as Reduced Staffed Unit.

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15. Firehouse OOS Notification System Pilot Goes Live!
The UFA's Mobile Media Firehouse Out-of-Service Alert System pilot program went live in June. Any member of your unit (with a system recognized cell phone) can now have the UFA send instantaneous warning notifications to your local elected officials and community activists and organizations. All you need to do is send a text message to 51684. Enter in the message field your 4-digit unit code (L127, E004, S041, R005,...). Then add a space plus the 2-digit OOS code (01 = Relocate, 02 = Repairs, etc.) and hit send! When back in service use the '00' code. Let your voice be heard each and every time your company is taken off the grid.

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16. OOS Code Key
Code & Explanation Message sent out
00 Back-in-Service _____ is back in service.
01 Relocated _____ is relocated to protect another neighborhood because their fire company is not available to respond.
02 Maintenance/Repairs _____ is closed for Repairs of the fire truck.
03 Public Event _____ is closed for a public event. The company is on stand-by in another neighborhood.
04 Drug Testing _____ is closed for random drug testing of all working members today.
05 Lack of Manpower _____ is closed due to a lack of manpower.
06 Other _____ is closed for other reasons.
07 Training _____ is closed for training classes.
08 Medical _____ is closed 9am-6pm for medical exams of all working members today.

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17. 60+ Companies Still Needed
If you have not done so, fax your list immediately to UFA Recording Secretary Joe Miccio at 212-683-4359, or hand in today. The system is unable to recognize messages from your unit unless your unit members' cell numbers are uploaded. See attached list for all companies that have not returned their form yet.

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18. Opting In to Receive OOS Notifications
Anyone can opt in to receive email notices every time their neighborhood company is OOS by going to www.firesafeny.com and registering. There is no cost. This site also displays a Google Map of all five boroughs and all unit locations. Each time your company is OOS, the Google 'Heat' Map will reflect the closing in real time and show unit % availability pie charts, as well as sending out notices to participants. The UFA will also be providing text message opt-in instructions to elected officials, media and other affected organizations and activists.

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19. Age Extender for FDNY Hiring
The City Council passed a bill May 26th extending the age limit for hopeful firefighter candidates who would have been ineligible for hiring after their 29th birthday by an ongoing legal battle over the entry exams. The extension--from age 29 to 35--would allow job-seekers who took the 2007 entrance exam to remain age-eligible for the next test. The last firefighter exam was administered in 2007, but the results were invalidated by Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who ruled that the last three entrance exams discriminated against African-American and Hispanic candidates. Judge Garaufis mandated a quota-type interim hiring system until a new exam could be administered. The City has suspended hiring rather than using a quota-type system, while it participates in drafting a new entrance test. The UFA continues to be included in efforts to make sure that the next test is competitive and results in hiring of the best qualified candidates.

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20. LODI Injury Bills
The UFA Health and Safety Office has just been informed that there is a four-year statute of limitations on all line-of-duty injury bills. We wish to remind all members that any line-of-duty bills that are received at your home address in error must be dealt with immediately. Please fax the bill and the CD-72 to the Health and Safety Office at 212-683-4768 as soon as possible.

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21. In-House Health & Safety Training
Delegates should contact UFA Health and Safety Field Representative Tony Caracciolo to schedule in-house training on a variety of health and safety topics. Training topics include cancer for firefighters, taught by Erin Fusco, a Nurse Practitioner and cardiac and respiratory issues for firefighters, taught by Lt. Rob Brown, a certified Physician Assistant. To schedule training with Erin, Rob or Tony, please contact Tony at 718-536-7223.

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22. Marsh Catastrophic: New Policies Still on Hold
Marsh (US Life) informed the UFA that it is still awaiting a determination from the federal government to see if the plan can continue to offer coverage exactly as it is today, or if it falls under Federal Healthcare Reform guidelines. Until then, the temporary hold will continue on new policy applications for catastrophic policies. Members will be informed as soon as a determination is made.

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23. UFA Financial Statement
UFA Treasurer Bob Straub reports that the UFA Financial Statement was mailed on June 10th to all Firehouses and Delegate home addresses.

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24. Random Drug Testing Quarterly Reports
The FDNY reports that the following units were tested randomly between 01/01/11 and 03/31/11. A total of 65 Units were tested within this period: 31 Engines, 24 Ladders, 6 Battalions, 2 Borough Commands, 1 Rescue Company, 1 Marine Unit. Nine Fire Marshals were also tested within this period. Reports listing each company tested and individual dates are attached. They are sorted by both company and chronologically.

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25. World Police & Fire Games 2011 NYC--Volunteers Needed
The WPFG 2011 is looking for volunteers to make these the best Games ever. New York is hosting the Games, the 2nd largest sporting competition in the world, to respectfully coincide with the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The 2011 WPFG NYC Organizing Committee is looking for both active and retired members (family members as well). The Games are New York's way of honoring all the brothers who we lost on 9/11 and continue to lose from working at Ground Zero and also thanking Fire and Police Departments from around the world that showed their support. The WPFG 2011 is looking for firehouses to adopt-a-sport, which entails help in running the sport by supplying volunteers. Some houses have adopted sports they are familiar with, while other houses have adopted sports that are relatively close to their firehouses. There are many venues in the five boroughs, Nassau, Suffolk and upstate. The three main venues are The Javits Center, Randall's Island and Lehman College. The dates of the Games are August 26th - September 5th. Step up and help make this a first and world class event. Please contact rmckeon@2011WPFG.org or call Rob McKeon @ 516-582-7384. Please spread the word to the retired members from your houses!

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26. "Battle Of The Boroughs" Cook-Off at The Intrepid
On Saturday, July 16th from 10:30am to 3:30pm, the Intrepid is hosting another "Battle of the Boroughs" Cook-off with prizes being awarded to top three teams. See instruction sheet attached to Dept. Order No. 46 for more details. To apply, contact: Victoria Giordano at 718-999-2830 or Fdnyevents@fdny.nyc.gov by Monday, July 11th at 5pm.

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27. "FDNY Battle Of The Bands" at The Intrepid
On Sunday, July 17th from 12 noon-3pm, the Intrepid will host an "FDNY Battle of the Bands". Please contact the FDNY Ceremonial Unit at 212-360 4436 or email: lapoinjo@fdny.nyc.gov if you are interested in competing. Preliminary details (subject to change): Intrepid will furnish sound system, each band will play a 20 minute set minimum, one member of the band must be an active or retired FDNY Fire or EMS member. Prizes awarded to best bands. Arrival time is 10:30pm. Winners selected at 3:30pm.

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28. 8th Annual Lt. Thomas Kelly (E-219/L-105) Memorial Golf Outing
On Friday, July 22nd at Cherry Creek Golf Course, Riverhead, NY. Tickets: $170 includes practice range, gift, BBQ lunch, shotgun start, golf & cart, refreshments on the course, dinner, open bar, prizes & awards. Registration begins at 11:30am, lunch/practice range at 12 noon, shotgun starts at 1:20pm. Include shirt sizes with check. Checks payable to Paul Augello, Robert Kelly or James Kelly. For more info contact Jim Kelly, 917-538-0197, Bob Kelly 646-879-5948 or P.J. Augello, 917-583-9330.

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29. A-Team Scholarship
The family and friends of Lt. Joseph Cavalieri, FF Christopher Bopp and FF James Bohan have established an A-Team Scholarship in their memory. The scholarship will award a freshman entering a private high school in September 2011 five hundred ($500) dollars each year. The student must submit an essay describing why they want to attend the particular private high school. The student must maintain a C or better average throughout high school. The scholarship competition is open to any child of an active or retired member of the UFA or UFOA. Applicants must submit an essay with parent's name, address, phone number and work unit. Postmark deadline to submit essay is August 15, 2011. All information must be submitted to A-Team Scholarship FDNY, P.O. Box 360-395, Brooklyn, New York 11236.

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30. Splish Splash Water Park Discount Tickets Available
Long Island's Waterpark located at Exit 72 West, Long Island Expressway, Riverhead, NY (631) 727-3600, www.splishsplashlongisland.com. 18 water slides, wavepool, lazy river, kiddie area and more! General admission price is $31, Under 48" and Seniors admission price is $25. Children 3 and under are free. For further info, please contact Amy Truscelli at 212-683-4832. Tickets must be purchased at UFA offices. Any unused tickets that are purchased thru the UFA can be refunded if tickets are returned by September 6th.

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Fraternally,

Stephen J. Cassidy
President

Joseph A. Miccio
Recording Secretary