65-2 #74 December 01, 2011

Union Issues


1. 2012 Union Meetings Return to International JFK Airport Hotel
Renovations to the ballrooms at the JFK International Hotel will be completed in December. Effective January 12, 2012, UFA General Membership Meetings will return there. It is located at 144-02 135th Ave., Jamaica, NY 11436. However, please note that the International JFK Airport Hotel will be changing its name to Hilton New York JFK Airport Hotel.

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2. Borough Meetings in December
UFA intends to schedule individual borough meetings to take place December 5th through 16th. This is an opportunity to discuss key issues in a more informal setting. Your Borough Trustee will notify you of the time and location. Communications will also be faxed out to each borough with this info. We encourage all members to attend in their respective borough.

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3. Pharmacy Benefit Plan Changes for Active UFA Members Effective January 1, 2012
As a result of the new Federal Health Care Reform Act, the UFA was required to make certain changes to its Security Benefits Fund prescription drug plan. Federal health care reform legislation has added significantly to the Fund's cost by requiring the plan to extend coverage to young adults up to age 26, and also eliminating annual maximum benefit usage caps. Additionally, prescription drug costs have continued to rise significantly over the past several years and this trend is expected to continue. As a result, there has been a heavy drain on the UFA's Security Benefit Fund.

For the past 21 years, the UFA has managed to keep our active drug plan co-pays at $0 for generic drugs and $8 for brand name prescriptions. Under the new federal requirements, this is no longer sustainable. Under the new law's requirements there will no longer be a $6,500 annual family prescription drug use cap. Therefore, effective January 1, 2012, the UFA prescription drug plan design for active members will be changed. These changes will manage plan costs more effectively and encourage members to use--when medically appropriate- low-cost generic drugs and formulary brand drugs. Key changes are summarized below. A letter from the UFA with more details was mailed to all members December 1. Additionally, each member will be receiving information on the new plan design from CVS Caremark.

At Pharmacy (30-day prescription)

Generic: $5
Preferred Brands "Formulary": (25% of cost) $15 min., $50 max.
Non-preferred Brands "Non-Formulary": (35% of cost) $40 min., $100 max
Annual usage exceeding $7,500: (35% of cost) $5 min., No max.

Mail Order (90-day prescription)

Generic: $12.50
Preferred Brands "Formulary": (25% of cost) $37.50 min., $125 max.
Non-preferred Brands "Non-Formulary": (35% of cost) $100 min., $250 Max
Annual usage exceeding $7,500: (35% of cost) $12.50 min., No max.

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4. City Budget Cuts
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. The administration has ordered 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. We will update the membership as soon as we have further details.

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5. Proposed Consolidation of 5 City Pension Boards
Steve discussed this with all Delegates present at the November 17 Union Meeting. The proposal does NOT include merging the pension funds. See your Delegate for additional information.

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6. Victim Compensation Fund Eligibility Forms Now Available for Filing
The new Victim Compensation Fund established by the Zadroga Bill legislation, is now accepting the filing of completed Eligibility Forms, the first step in the official filing process. The Eligibility Form is available on the Fund's official website: http://www.vcf.gov. Generally, the purpose of the Form is to enable the Special Master and her staff to determine if you meet the basic qualifications for an award. For example: Can you establish the requisite "presence" at an appropriate site? Do you have a qualifying injury or medical condition? Have you withdrawn any lawsuit in a timely fashion? Once you are deemed "eligible" for an award, you will have to file a "Compensation Form" to present your injuries in detail and to illustrate any economic loss you may have suffered. The Compensation Form is not yet available, but should be published on the Fund's website soon. Although you are not required to have an attorney for the filing process, we recommend you contact our general counsel, Michael Block and his firm, Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo, 212-732-9000, for assistance in filing a claim with the new Victim Compensation Fund.

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7. UFA Scholarship Fund Awards
The UFA Scholarship Fund mailed the $450 scholarship checks last month to over 900 eligible members and dependents who filed by the deadline.

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8. Mutuals Policy
The UFA has been informed that the Department is conducting verification reviews to ensure members are following proper mutual request policy, as specified under Regulations 17.10. Note that pay-back dates must be recorded at the time the request is submitted.

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9. 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 upon the City for the safety impact hearing. The City's Response to the UFA's Discovery Request was due by November 18. The City delivered 17 cases of documents in response. The Office of Collective Bargaining has appointed Theodore St. Antoine, former Dean of the University of Michigan School of Law, as the Trial Examiner who will preside over the safety impact hearing. 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 BCB's Interim Decision is posted HERE

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10. UCT Case Update
The Unified Call Taker hearings at the OCB took place on June 21, July 19, August 2, August 4, October 6, and November 18th. The UFA and UFOA are working together on this case as well. Additional hearings are scheduled for dates in December and January, 2012.

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11. Start-of-Tour Under / Reduced Staffing Grievance
The UFA filed this grievance in June. The Department has indicated a willingness to address this issue in a manner to preclude the necessity of an arbitration regarding this grievance. A meeting is scheduled with the Department on December 15 to address the issue with the objective of eliminating this practice. If your company is ordered to ride either Under Staffed (3 or fewer FFs in an Engine) or Reduced Staffed (4 FFs in a Truck) at the start of the tour, you must 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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12. 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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13. Modified Response Pilot Expanding City-Wide
The Department's Modified Response pilot will soon expand City wide--but the dates have still not been announced. The UFA filed an improper practice case in May at the Office of Collective Bargaining.

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14. 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. These include, but are not limited to, FDNY Regulations Chapter 11 and FDNY Safety Bulletins #6, #9, #10, #27, and #71. As recommended in the Safety Bulletins, chauffeurs need to pay attention to the varying weather conditions they are responding in and adjust their responses accordingly. Chauffeurs also need to be aware of the increased risk of an accident from changes in the response policies and responding from outside activities, such as the Building Inspection Safety Program. Also keep in mind the additional risks associated with a possible modified response and/or reduced manning. Previous UFA Safety Messages that highlight and emphasize a safe response should also be reviewed!

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15. 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 complete its design of enhanced report writer routines that will permit comprehensive review and publication of data, as well as improvements to the on-line Google heat-maps. Battalion reports listing dates and reasons each unit has used the system for the month of October were distributed to all Delegates present at the November 17 Union Meeting. It is important for each Delegate to compare the report's info to the actual number of times your unit has been reported OOS. Comparing your cell phone text messages to the report is one way to verify this. If there are discrepancies, please call Recording Secretary Joe Miccio, at 212-545-6973. This information will be invaluable in assisting Gold Media to identify bugs still not corrected in the reporting system.

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16. Placing Your Unit OOS in the System
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. The code key and instructions for posting in your firehouse were distributed to all Delegates present at the November 17 Union Meeting.

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17. 35 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. 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 is was distributed at the November 17 Union Meeting.

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18. 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. You will receive a notice confirming your registration. 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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19. Quartermaster Report 2011
At the request of the UFA's Health & Safety Office, the FDNY Quartermaster provided the UFA with the annual list of members who have not been seen by the Quartermaster this year. Each list is broken down for Company Delegates. All Quartermaster Lists that were not picked up at October General Membership Meeting were distributed to all Delegates present at the November 17 Union Meeting. Members who have not visited the Quartermaster this year should try to be seen by the Quartermaster before the end of this year.

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20. 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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21. Uniform Maintenance Non-Taxability Affidavit
It is extremely important that each member file the form with their Officer. Per Dept Orders, "failure to properly complete and file an affidavit may result in the issuance of a corrected W-2 form that includes the Uniform Cleaning Allowance as taxable earnings." Affidavits and instructions may also be obtained by accessing the Department's Intranet. Audits will be conducted to ensure that affidavits are being completed and filed. See your Officer if you have any questions regarding this issue.

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22. 2012 UFA Workchart Calendar--Packed with Good Info!
The UFA would like to thank Mike Block and his firm, Sullivan, Papain, Block, McGrath & Cannavo, P.C., for covering the entire cost of printing the 2012 UFA Workchart Calendar. Calendars for each company were distributed to all Delegates present at the November 17 Union Meeting. It is designed to give members better access to UFA info and other services. The inside front cover includes phone numbers of all companies, battalions & divisions--noting which share quarters. The flow chart on the rear cover, 'Getting Your Problems Solved with UFA Help', makes it easy to get help. Important phone numbers, faxes or email addresses are also included on the back cover for health care providers, the UFA SBF, Medical Office, Insurances, Legal, FDNY HQ, the UFA and much more. The Medical Office section includes phone numbers and the proper address to give to medical care providers if injured on duty to insure YOU do not receive the bills. It includes lots of good information. Keep a copy handy!

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23. 2012 UFA Parking Placards
Your 2011 Parking Placards expire on February 1, 2012. The new 2012 Parking Placards will be distributed at the January Union Meeting by each Borough Trustee, to Company Delegates only.

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24. Delegate Education Seminar Dates
In accordance with the UFA Constitution, a seminar site was chosen by a majority vote of the Delegate body. The 2012 Delegate Seminar will be held May 8th through May 11th in Atlantic City at the Trump Taj Mahal. The May 2012 Union Meeting will also be held at the Taj Mahal during the seminar on Friday morning, May 11th. Information packets with details will be mailed shortly. NOTE: Lectures and classes addressing many important topics will be presented to help Delegates take care of their members' needs. All Delegates are required to attend this education seminar, in accordance with the UFA Constitution.

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25. 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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26. Random Drug Testing Quarterly Reports
2nd Quarter 2011: The FDNY reports that the following units were tested randomly between 4/1/11 and 6/30/11. A total of 72 units were tested: 39 Engines, 17 Ladders, 9 Battalions, 1 Division, 2 Marine Units, 2 Marine Divisions, and 9 Fire Marshals. Reports listing each company tested and individual dates were distributed at the November 17 Union Meeting. Reports are sorted by both company and chronologically.

3rd Quarter 2011: The FDNY reports that the following units were tested randomly between 7/1/11 and 9/30/11. A total of 78 units were tested: 38 Engines, 22 Ladders, 15 Battalions, 2 Divisions, 1 Rescue Company, and 9 Fire Marshals. Reports listing each company tested and individual dates were distributed at the November 17 Union Meeting. Reports are sorted by both company and chronologically.

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27. FDNY Pilots & Marine Engineers
The UFA and Marine Pilots Delegate, met with City representatives at OLR on November 10 to address all legally required administrative functions between MEBA, OLR and the UFA to complete the benefits transfer to the UFA Security Benefits Fund, as well to address other required union representation transfer issues. This includes the required City welfare fund contributions for each new member that must also go into our funds. Coverage is anticipated to begin on January 1, 2012. Any questions Marine Engineers and Pilots may have should initially be directed to UFA Recording Secretary Joseph Miccio, the UFA's Marine Unit Chairman. Joe can be reached at the UFA at 212-545-6973 or RecordingSecretary@UFANYC.org.

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28. Proposed Constitution Amendments Vote
The proposed UFA Constitution amendments, as published in 65-2 #68 of 2011, were discussed and voted on by all members present at the November 17 Union Meeting. The Constitution Committee and Executive Board's votes were presented. Proposed amendment #1 was approved. Proposed amendments #2, #3 and #4 were rejected. The complete text of the proposed amendments is contained in 65-2 #68 of 2011 and was mailed to all FHs and Delegate residences with the October and November meeting notices.

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29. 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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30. UFA Dental Plan Transfer Period
Healthplex, which manages the UFA Dentcare program (no out-of-pocket) & UFA Family Plan (pay & reimbursement and also no out-of-pocket plan), was present at the November 17 Union Meeting. The Dental Transfer Period for active and retired members, where members may roll over between plans, ends December 31. Changes become effective on January 1, 2012. Transfer forms, fee schedules and literature for SBF and Healthplex were distributed at the November 17 Union Meeting.

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31. 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.

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32. 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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Fraternally,

Stephen J. Cassidy
President

Joseph A. Miccio
Recording Secretary