Friday, October 27, 2006

Chris Phillips for President Letter!


Change does not change tradition. It strengthens it.
Change is a challenge and an opportunity; not a threat. — Prince Philip

Over the past several weeks I have been visiting with the members of Local 29 and one thing is clear: The time has come to change the direction our Union is headed. The animosity, name calling, and negative press have hurt us. We have lost support from the citizens, Administration, local government and even from our fellow firefighters in surrounding unions and at the state level. How can we hope to effectively confront a dismal budget and negotiate concessions that benefit our members after we’ve spent years creating enemies and losing supporters? I’ve heard the membership express their displeasure time and time again and I fully agree. We must repair the damage if we wish to move ahead.
The LEOFF II Pension is not what it should be. If you question where deficiencies exist just ask any LEOFF I member and he’ll be happy to explain! Unfortunately, many of the issues that affect LEOFF II reform happen at the state level. We need to regain the respect we once had at the local and state levels and work to encourage positive changes. If we expect to see things change, we need to make a concerted effort to present a united front with other locals throughout the state. We can’t force change alone but together we can all push for beneficial changes in our pension. For this to happen we need local leadership with a vested interest in seeing the LEOFF II pension improve. I have many years left in my career and will be here to work toward making the changes we all want to see. The task is tremendous and it will take a great deal of time and effort to overcome. I don’t expect a LEOFF I member to have the same concerns and fears about my retirement needs and benefits. The LEOFF II Pension issues affect me daily and will for the remainder of my life, not just at election time.
For a Union to successfully represent its members it must have guidance and should be abreast of the issues that concern the membership. Not everyone can attend the Union meetings nor should it be the only way to obtain information on the issues that affect you. You deserve support because you are a member in good standing, not because you joined the crowd on Tuesday night. I will utilize the Union newsletter, and more importantly the website, to disseminate the minutes of the meetings in a timely manner. In addition, I will explore other avenues of getting information to our members.
I don’t believe you can adequately represent your members if you don’t have an idea of what their concerns are. I want to see the individuals who fill positions on the E-Board traveling to the areas they were tasked with representing. They should be there to gather the facts so that we can represent those members accordingly. There is absolutely no excuse for not bringing forth concerns from the entire membership. When a member has a concern or problem, the leadership needs to recognize that the concern is not trivial to that member. My message is clear … If you want to hold a position on the E-Board, you will represent the concerns of the areas you are assigned, or you should be replaced by someone who will when the opportunity arises.

You all have a right to know how your money is being spent. In the past I had questions about our Union budget. I approached the previous Secretary-Treasurer and was told that the fiscal health of my Union was none of my business. A short time later I went to a Union Meeting and brought forth a motion to prepare and have posted a budget for members to review. To my surprise the motion passed overwhelmingly. I know I do not stand alone with my concerns. When we send a member of our Union to a conference we deserve to know how it positively influenced our Union, and if the money was spent wisely. I do not agree with blindly supporting political candidates because of party affiliation. We need to adequately research a candidate’s history and position on issues before we offer support. We have failed in this task in the past. Support can be given in a number of ways and need not always be monetary in nature. I believe that when we have a number of members laid off and set back in rank we should not display fiscal irresponsibility. If there is excess spending and fat in our union budget let’s try to identify this waste and correct it before we ask members to pay more dues.
I have made it a point not to promise outlandish things as I visit the membership. I don’t carry around a list of numbers that will wow you. There are two candidates running against me that have held the position of Union President in the past. I have never doubted the passion either has for the Union or our profession. I only ask myself how they represented me when they held the position (6 years each). Both have served, and have been or soon will be voted out for a variety of reasons. Now I am asking for my chance to represent you and vow to do my best to make positive changes that will carry us forward in this ever changing profession.
I have been involved with the Union in a variety of ways. I served on the Grievance Committee, attended working family rallies across the state, I door belled, and stood on the picket line with our brothers and sisters at Kaiser. I regularly participate in Fill the Boot and the Bloomsday water station. As many of you know, I have been in the Investigation office for the last four years, and have gained an insight into how the Administration operates. I am returning to the stations in November and bring with me a fresh new perspective on the Fire Department. I have the proven ability and training to negotiate in a professional manner. I have stood my ground in the professional and legal arena and have the ability to stand toe-to-toe when a situation demands. I have developed professional relationships and am well received throughout the City and by Administration. I think this is something we haven’t had for several years and I can use this to our benefit.
I am asking for your support and look forward to learning from those who have previously held the position of President. I don’t want to alienate those who have held the position in the past, and in fact I welcome their input and assistance should they be kind enough to grant it. I have spoken with the Vice President and Secretary and they have pledged their assistance in any way needed should I be elected. I think the time has come for our Union to benefit from positive representation with a fresh outlook. I feel I can provide both and would greatly appreciate your vote.

Thank You,

Chris Phillips

Dear Fellow Union Members,
This unsolicited endorsement for Chris Phillips as our next Local 29 Union President was very easy for me to make.
Chris has the intelligence, the calm demeanor and the attitude that is needed in our Union leadership. As our Union moves forward, the time has come for changes to be made.
The question to ask one’s self is, “Am I satisfied with our current Union leadership?” I know my answer and that is why I am endorsing Chris. True leadership change must start at the top.
I would respectfully ask each and every member who voted for me in the two previous Union President elections, to cast your ballot for Chris Phillips.
Thank you.
Kevin Smathers

I support Chris Phillips for Union President. I believe local 29’s relationship with management has been adversarial for a very long time and Chris Phillips has the ability to once again build bridges. A good working relationship with management is absolutely necessary for successful representation of our membership. Chris deals with difficult issues using his intelligence to develop an effective argument and has proven his ability to work closely with management as a Fire Investigator the past four years.
With only 19 Leoff I members on the fire department, it is time for the majority of our membership to be represented by someone in the same pension system. The members of local 29 will be very well represented with Chris Phillips as the next union president.
Todd Powell

As you all know, Chris Phillips has worked with me in the investigation office for nearly four years. When he first came into the office there was a tremendous amount of material he had to learn, which required and received his total commitment. I will tell you that he is a fast learner and quickly became an asset to the office. Chris brought many life experiences with him to investigation, with the most applicable being his quick wit and attention to the “details”. Lately I have had the opportunity to talk with some of you and fully agree that our Union is in need of a positive change. I strongly believe that now is the time and Chris is the person that can lead us in that direction. Please join me in voting for Christopher Phillips for the position of Union President.
Michael Zambryski

Brothers and Sisters,

I have had an opportunity to work with Chris in each of the positions he has held within our organization. Chris has earned my respect in each of these positions. He has impressed me with his intelligence, his commitment and most importantly the fact that he can get the job done!

As each of you know, the members of Local 29 have had a long tradition of dedicated, committed leaders that have done their best to represent the members’ needs. Chris Phillips has the necessary personal attributes that will allow him to function as a strong, effective Union President. He will be a staunch advocate for all Local 29 members and positively represent all of us at the city, local and state level.

Fellow members of Local 29,

Anyone who knows me, also knows I don’t get involved in politics very often if at all—but at this point in time I feel very compelled to speak out in support of Chris Philips. I for one do not like the ongoing level of animosity between Local 29 and our administration. I agree with Chris that it’s gone on too long and is very counter-productive to the Fire dept’s health and future growth. I believe that working closely with senior Administrators has given Chris some valuable insight to how they think and react, and this knowledge could be very valuable during negotiations, grievances, or any time a member has an issue with management.
Being an over-the –hill LEOFF 1 member, I think it would be foolish for the vast majority of you to re-elect a LEOFF 1 president again--although the current president does a fair job, I know Chris would support LEOFF 2 members and issues 100%.
I have known Chris since he was hired and have watched him mature into the man he is today—I like what I see; honesty, integrity, sincerity for a new era of trust and communication, guts to stand up for what he believes in, and the composure and intelligence to make it all happen. I respect the fact that Chris is not running a campaign full of promise—he is a realist and will only declare what he would like to see happen, and that he would do his best to keep the Local going in the right direction.
I urge all of you to vote for Chris and let him take us into the future with new hope, vigor and fresh ideas.

Thanks for listening,
Dale Michael –L2

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