65-2 #71 October 25, 2011

Union Issues


1. November Union Meeting at Terrace on the Park
The November Union Meeting location has been scheduled at Terrace on the Park, 52-11 111 Street, Flushing Meadow Park, NY 11368.. This is due to renovations taking place to the ballrooms at the JFK International Hotel.

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2. November Union Meeting Date Changed
The November Union Meeting date has been changed to Thursday, November 17 due to unavailability of facilities on the regularly scheduled meeting date of November 10. This new meeting date is scheduled at Terrace on the Park, as indicated above. Please notify all your company members and insure that all UFA, personal and firehouse calendars are adjusted accordingly.

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3. UFA Dental Plan Reps at November Union Meeting
The Dental Transfer Period began October 15 for active and retired members and ends December 31. Changes become effective on January 1, 2012. Healthplex, which manages the UFA Dentcare program (no out-of-pocket) and UFA Family Plan (pay & reimbursement), will be present at the November 17 Union Meeting to distribute literature, enrollment forms and answer questions.

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4. Proposed UFA Constitution Amendments
In accordance with the UFA Constitution, the Constitution Committee met on September 22 to review proposed amendments. They were published and attached to the October Union Meeting Notice, which was mailed on September 27, and will also be attached to the November Union Meeting Notice, as required by the UFA Constitution. Proposed amendments will be discussed and voted on at the November 17 Union Meeting.

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5. Governor Cuomo Signs "Pension Protection Bill" Into Law
In a great victory for our membership, on September 23, 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the "Pension Protection Bill" into law. The new law provides that members of the Fire Department pension system who have "obtained at least twenty years of credible uniformed force service in the retirement system" cannot be deprived of their retirement pension even if they are terminated as a Fire Department member. The only exception under the statute is if the termination results from the conviction of a felony.

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6. City Budget Cuts Announced
The Mayor's office announced plans to slash City agency expenses by a total of $2 billion over the next 18 months; $500 million from the current year's budget and $1.5 billion from the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. He is ordering every City agency head to submit plans to reduce spending by 2% for the remainder of this fiscal year, and another 6% for the following year. The City intends to implement a budget modification as early as this November.

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7. Cut-Off Date For Blaze Fighter Gloves
As per Dept Order 68, "Effective October 11th, 2011, assigned members or those on extended details to companies in Divisions 1, 3 and 7 are no longer permitted to wear Blaze Fighter Gloves. Any member who was not included in the original distribution of Blue Commander gloves for any reason should immediately notify their company officer who shall contact Captain Dominic Bertucci at bertucd@fdny.nyc.gov to arrange for exchange. Members requiring a size other than their previously issued size as reflected on the Distribution List shall be responsible for exchange at the Quartermaster as outlined in Operations Directive 11-04-15 dated April 21, 2011." The Dept has informed the UFA that it expects to complete replacement of work gloves for all field units by the end of this month.

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8. Registration Begins for 9/11 Health Compensation Fund
On 10/3/11, the new Victim Compensation Fund, created by the Zadroga Bill, began the "registration" process for the filing of claims. The process is intended to give the Fund Administrator some idea of the volume of claims that may eventually be filed. It is not necessary to register. However, the only way to receive a monetary award from the Fund is by filing a claim, which is not the same as registering. Individuals may simply file their claims when the forms become available--presumably in November 2011. The Fund will accept claims for 5 years. However, if you know or should know you have a WTC related illness or injury, you have only 2 years from that time to file. You can go to www.vcf.gov, the Fund's official website, to learn more. We also recommend that you consult with counsel if you have any questions. UFA General Counsel, Michael Block and his firm (212-732-9000) are available to answer your questions.

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9. FDNY Pilots & Marine Engineers Now UFA Members
On July 19, FDNY Marine Pilots and Engineers, all former Firefighters and UFA members, voted to decertify from representation by the Marine Engineers Benevolent Association and to become members of the UFA. The UFA welcomes all Marine Pilots and Engineers back to the UFA, as active or retired members. As a result, they will also become members of the UFA Security Benefit Fund or UFA Retired Security Benefit Fund after all legally required administrative functions between MEBA, OLR and the UFA are addressed to complete the benefits transfer. This includes the required City welfare fund contributions for each new member that must also go into our funds. Coverage is anticipated to begin January 1, 2012. Any questions Marine Engineers and Pilots may have should initially be directed to UFA Recording Secretary, Joseph Miccio, the UFA Marine Unit Chairman. Joe can be reached at the UFA at 212-545-6973 or RecordingSecretary@UFANYC.org.

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10. Roster Staffing Litigation
As you know, the UFA and UFOA filed a joint petition on January 31, 2011, alleging that the City's elimination of the 5th FF in the 60 Engines as set forth in the Roster Staffing Agreement violated its requirement to negotiate, as well as created a negative safety impact. In its Interim Decision, the BCB dismissed the unions' allegations of a violation of the duty to negotiate, but found that the unions had set forth sufficient facts to warrant a hearing to determine whether the reduction in staffing has a practical impact on the safety of FFs. The UFA and UFOA filed their joint Discovery request one month ago for the safety impact hearing. The City has until November 16 to respond. With regard to the dismissal of the unions' claims relative to the City's duty to negotiate, we filed an appeal of that part of the decision on July 29th in the N.Y. County Supreme Court. The entire decision document is posted HERE.

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11. 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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12. UCT Case Update
The Unified Call Taker hearings at the OCB took place on June 21, July 19, August 2, August 4 and October 6. The UFA and UFOA are working together on this case. The hearings will continue in November.

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13. Start-of-Tour Under / Reduced Staffing Grievance
The UFA filed its case in June. 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. Remember to 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. CFR-D & Chauffeur Marks While Working "Other OT"
Members who are entitled to CFR-D and Chauffeur differential marks while working "Other OT" are being denied these entries by CityTime when Officers attempt to make proper entries. FDNY Operations reported to the UFA that it has notified all Battalions that the CityTime Manual (p.56) explains the procedures to circumvent this glitch until the system is corrected.

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16. Modified Response Pilot Expanding City-Wide
The Department informed the UFA that the Modified Response pilot will soon expand City wide--dates have still not been announced.

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17. Safe Response
Health & Safety Officer/Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Romaka reminds the membership of the importance of a safe and efficient response and to follow all safe response protocols issued by the Dept. Please keep in mind the additional risks associated with a possible modified response and/or reduced manning.

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18. Firehouse OOS Notification System Pilot Continues
The UFA's Mobile Media Firehouse Out-of-Service Alert System pilot program went live in June and is still being reviewed and updated. We are working with Gold Media to develop enhanced report writer routines that will permit comprehensive review and publication of data, as well as improvements to the on-line Google heat-maps. 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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19. 50+ Companies Still Needed!!!
If you have not done so, fax your company cell phone list immediately to UFA Recording Secretary Joe Miccio at 212-683-4359, or hand in today. The FH OOS notification system is unable to recognize messages from your unit unless your unit members' cell numbers are uploaded. A list of all companies that have not returned their form was distributed at the October 13 Union Meeting.

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20. OOS Google Web-Map & Opting In to Receive 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 provided text message opt-in instructions to elected officials, media and other affected organizations and activists.

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21. Pension & VSF DROP Statements
As per Supplement No. 47 to Department Order No. 63, FDNY Pension & Payroll distributed individual pension statements in September to firehouses for your Officer to provide you. Any dollar amount or value provided is based on the estimated value on December 31, 2010. However, beneficiary information reflects the most recent changes processed after December 31, 2010. Detailed explanations of terminology are also provided in Supplement 47. Make sure you review your statement and keep it with your pension planning records. Pursuant to meetings with the UFA and the FDNY Pension Bureau, statements now include Variable Supplement DROP dollar values accrued for members with over 20 years of service. VSF Payments are $12,000 for 2011 and each year thereafter, in accordance with the NYC Code. Refer to Delegate Manual Chapter 'FF Laws & Definitions' for the complete text of the code, and also the chapter 'FDNY Pension Manual' for additional info re the VSF.

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22. City Health/Medical Plan Transfer Period Begins 11/1/11
The Health Benefits Transfer Period for active members begins November 1, 2011 and ends November 30, 2011. Health plan changes requested during the Transfer Period will be effective the first day of the first full payroll period in January 2012 for active members. Late changes will not be accepted by the City!!! During the annual Transfer Period active members may transfer into any health plan offered for which they may be eligible, add or drop optional rider coverage or add or drop dependent(s). To make changes, (including enrolling in the Buy-Out-Waiver Program), the member must complete a Health Benefits Application. (To elect the Buy-Out Waiver Program or change health premium contribution tax status, members must fill out both a Medical Spending Conversion Enrollment/Change Form and a Health Benefits Application. Conversion Forms must be completed and returned to your agency personnel office or health benefits rep by November 18.) Forms are available at www.nyc.gov/olr or through the Health Desk at Fire Headquarters. Members who waive their City health benefits, will lose their PICA drug coverage. Certain changes can instead be made on the City's Employee Self Service (ESS) website at www.nyc.gov/ess. *IMPORTANT NOTE: If adding or deleting a spouse or child using ESS, the on-line updates will be held as "pending" until hard copies of the correct documentation (per Dept policies) are received. City Health/Medical Plan vendors were at the October 13 Union Meeting.

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23. Health Plan Questions
Representatives from individual Health Plan providers distributed literature/forms and answered questions at the October 13 Union Meeting. If you have any questions or problems concerning payroll deductions for health benefits, contact the FDNY Health Benefits Unit, Camille Isaacs at 718-999-2196. Updated price flyers and transfer forms for those interested in changing or updating City Health/Medical Plans were distributed at the October 13 Union Meeting. Make sure you get the info you need to best protect your family!!!

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24. Affordable Care Act: Coverage Under Age 26
The new health care reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), contains a provision that extends coverage for young adults up to age 26. 'Young Adult Dependents' are now allowed to remain on their parents' health plans well into adulthood. Health plans are required to cover these young adults regardless of whether they are full-time students or if they are married. As of July 2011, coverage for young adults up to the age of 26 is available through the City of New York Health Benefits Program.

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25. Pre-Tax Flexible Spending Accounts for Health Care & Dependent Care
Open enrollment period (for HCFSA & DeCAP) runs through November 18th. These programs allow active FF's to deposit a portion of their pre-tax income into accounts maintained for certain health and dependent care expenses not covered by your health plan or SBF. These programs are known as the Health Care Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA) and the Dependent Care Assistance Program (DeCAP). To enroll, you must submit an FSA Enrollment/Change Form for Plan Year 2012, which is available on line at www.nyc.gov/olr or by contacting the FDNY Health Benefits Unit at 718-999-2196. See Dept Order 68, Supplement 52 for more info. Any member currently enrolled will automatically receive the Plan Year 2012 FSA Program Brochure and Enrollment/Change Form in the mail.

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26. Employee Self Service for Paystub Info & Making Updates
The Employee Self Service (ESS) allows you to view and change your personal and dependent* info, benefits, tax, and certain payroll information on both the Intranet from work and Internet from home (in many cases you no longer have to fill out a paper ERB form to transfer, add or delete). You can see line by line details regarding deductions and OT, longevity, CFR and more that correspond with each biweekly pay period. NEW ENHANCEMENTS: Employee Self Service (ESS) now includes links to add, modify and cancel IRA and 529 College Savings Plan deductions. Employees can view, enroll in and update their NYS 529 College Savings Program and IRA payroll deductions by logging onto ESS and clicking on the applicable link. To access ESS go to www.nyc.gov/ess. Log-in using your self service ID and password. Then click sign-in. If it is your first time logging in use the seven-digit employee ID number found in the reference # box on your pay stub. Your initial password is the last two digits of your SSN and the eight digits of your birth date. The UFA highly recommends all members log-in ASAP, if you have not done so already, and change your initial password to keep your ESS information secure and confidential.

*IMPORTANT NOTE: If adding or deleting a spouse or child, the on-line updates will be held as "pending" until hard copies of the correct documentation (per Dept policies) are received.

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27. Update Your Address, Email, Phone #s with the UFA
Members and Delegates wishing to receive important information or notifications from the UFA should insure that their residence addresses, email addresses, home and cell phone numbers on file with the UFA are updated and accurate. In order to do this, you must prepare and sign a 'SBF Change of Address Form' and mail to the UFA, Attn: SBF. Forms can be obtained from your Delegate, who can assist you, or you can call the UFA SBF at 212-683-4723, or visit the Forms Section of the UFA web site at www.UFANYC.org.

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28. Change of Beneficiary/Address Checklists
UFA Recording Secretary Joe Miccio reports that Change of Beneficiary and Change of Address Checklists are inside the following three Delegate Manual Booklets: 'Security Benefits Fund', 'NYC Health Plans', and 'Insurances & Free Benefits.' They also include contact information for making changes. More Booklets can be ordered from the Recording Secretary's office at 212-545-6973.

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29. NY Islanders Ultimate Group Special
On Tuesday, November 15th at 7pm the NY Islanders will take on the NY Rangers at Nassau Coliseum. Tickets range from $15-$50 (orig. $28-$99). For more info, including tickets, contact Scott Einhorn, e-mail seinhorn@newyorkislanders.com or call 516-501-6894.

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30. FDNY vs. NYPD Boxing Battle of the Badges
On Saturday, November 19th, at 8pm at the WaMu Theatre at Madison Square Garden (MSG). New York's Bravest Boxing will take on New York's Fighting Finest in the "Battle of the Badges. Bravest Boxing will donate proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project. Tickets, priced at $30, $50 and $65 are on sale at the MSG box office, Ticketmaster, or from team members. Group sales of 10 or more tickets or ads in the annual event journal can be arranged by calling Bobby McGuire at (917) 282-8727.

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Fraternally,

Stephen J. Cassidy
President

Joseph A. Miccio
Recording Secretary