Friday, December 31, 2004

Important Info Regarding the LEOFF Trust Health Insurance Plan

December 30, 2004

Dear LEOFF Trust Member:

The Law Enforcement Officers and Firefighters Health & Welfare Trust (LEOFF Trust) previously notified you of its plan to convert the Health Insurance benefits offered to Leoff trust members from Premera Blue Cross to the First Choice Health Network. This conversion was to be coincident with a switch from Premera’s contract plan to a self-insured plan through the Leoff Trust, with reinsurance provided through Symetra Financial. The conversion was scheduled for January 1, 2005.

During the conversion process however, the City of Spokane raised certain issues that the LEOFF Trust feels cannot be addressed in the time frame currently available. Therefore, the LEOFF Trust has no choice but to delay implementation of the self-insured plan for active Spokane Fire Fighters.

Please be advised that the forgoing delay in implementation of the First Choice coverage will not result in any lapse of coverage for you or your family members who were previously insured with Premera. The LEOFF Trust has received a commitment from Premera to renew the coverage that was in place last year. The premiums from Premera will be adjusted and billed to the City. It is still the intent of the LEOFF Trust to convert from Premera Blue Cross to the First Choice self-insurance plan at the earliest possible date.

Many of you have already received your First Choice Network provider cards. Although those cards cannot be used at this time, you should retain those cards for future use. If you have not already destroyed your existing Premera card, please retain that card as well to be used until further notice. If you no longer have a Premera card, please contact Jenny Stevens at 509-484-5598 and a new card will be obtained for you.

The LEOFF Trust and Local 29 are taking action to resolve this situation with the City of Spokane and will notify all members of the LEOFF Trust as soon as information becomes available.

Please be assured that we, the LEOFF Trust and Local 29 are working hard to see that the conversion to First Choice through a self-insured plan is implemented as soon as possible.


Greg Borg
President, Local 29 IAFF

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Apologies to retirees

I have been sick over the last few weeks and have missed some of your retirement parties. I am sorry if I missed yours. Thank you for your participation in the union and your efforts as a City Firefighter. We are proud of you and will miss all of you. Local 29 wish you well.
Greg Borg

Notice to all being laid off:

If you are being laid off you please call Glenn Kiby at Civil Service 625-6160. If you would like to apply for another city job it can benefit you in several ways. If you are hired in another city department you have to take a voluntary demotion, but when you are hired by the other department you are on an unlimited laid off list for the fire department. You also get preference during the hiring process. It would be a job with full benefits while you wait to be recalled. So call Glenn and tell him you are a laid off firefighter. He can give you the details and tell you what openings there are. Good luck.

$1,000,000 interest-free union member loan to city rejected...

Brothers and Sisters,

Final news on the back paychecks! Mayor West has rejected our offer of $1,000,000 to save 12 to 14 jobs. He said he has a commitment to only using only renewable funds to pay for salaries. He also said he has no way to assure the replacement million dollars in January 2006 to pay use back. He thanked us for the offer but had to reject it.

With that decision and the Mayors rejection of money from our LEOFF I Pension fund, it brings to an end any solutions we have to save any more jobs. Thank you for your generous vote on the issue.

The back paychecks will be distributed in late January or early February, as soon as the city can get it done.

Fraternally, Greg Borg


Just when you think things around here can't get any worse, we havereached a new level of bungling in our EMS system.  For the past couple years, every 911 patient transport has been billed at the higher ALS rate.  Yep, even a simple BLS transport for constipation has been billed at the higher ALS rate.

 Even if all the ALS work is done by the Spokane Fire Department, the patient is still billed for ALS by the ambulance company.  Furthermore, 60% of the patient transports were suppose to be billed at the lower BLS rate.  Since they are now billed at the higher ALS rate it means an extra $700,000.00 dollars per year for AMR!  And consequently, the people that we are supposed to protect - are forced to pay for something that they are not receiving.

 It's like ordering basic cable service (BLS) and receiving basic cable service - but people are being forced to pay for deluxe cable service (ALS).  The really reprehensible aspect of this, we provide most of the ALS care at no expense to the patient.

 EMS is 80% of what we do and nobody I've talked to in Spokane knows anything about this billing practice .  You would think with the EMS levy just barely passing, we would take EMS issues around here more seriously.   AMR billing in Seattle was contacted and they confirmed this billing practice - it's called ALS Emergency Mandated.

There may be a ray of hope out of this mess.  People have been charged for ALS when the SFD Paramedic accompanies the patient to the care facility.  This is a prohibited charge under the contract.  Just guess how many times a year our Medics ride-in where the fine can be as high as $5,000.00 dollars for each violation.  The penalties could be in the millions, but our Chief has to make the effort to fine the ambulance company.  

The down side of this is how public perception about SFD EMS might change.  In the future people may think EMS stands for Emergency Medical Scandal. Fundamental reform and investigation about this matter is warranted.

 Happy New Year!

Bill Jackman

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Black Friday

Black Friday
Originally uploaded by BillFoss.
The guys at Stn 17 will keep this up on the board until we get back to where we were. Thanks Mike L!

Newsletter deadline

Looks like January 4th is the deadline for submissions to the Local 29 newsletter. Thanks to all of those who have e-mailed in their requests to have the newsletter e-mailed to them instead of printed and mailed. You can e-mail me or with your submissions, or if you want to receive the newsletter through the miracle of the Internet. Happy Holidays! John

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Comcast commercials call for customer comments to council...

You might have seen the TV ads. Comcast is trying to get their customers riled up. They want them to call the city council and complain about the council's proposal to bump monthly cable rates up a buck or two, to preserve some public safety funding. Well, it works both ways. If you know someone who supports the idea of finally making Comcast pay what they should've been paying all along, in order to keep a few more cops and firefighters serving the public, have them call the city council at 625-6255.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Lots of good info on Edmonds hiring...

A friend of Gonzo's sent him a lot of information on Edmonds Fire lateral transfers. Looks like a pretty good deal. Thanks Bill! Click on the title/link above.

Local 29 Newsletter via E-mail

If you are interested in receiving your newsletter via e-mail instead of going postal, e-mail me and I'll put you on the list.

Some advantages:

1. You'll get the newsletter a few days quicker.
2. You'll save your union some money.

Some disadvantages:

1. You'll have a harder time reading it while perched upon the toilet.
2. You'll have to print out a copy to rip it in pieces and wad it up to mail back to the office as a protest to the opinions contained within.


You can e-mail me departmentally
or through Bill Foss' account:

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Snohomish job offers - deadline 12/21!

I need a copy of anyone who is interested in a
lateral transfer to Snohomish 1. They are going to
hire 8 in January and laid off firemen get first dibs.
Bring your resume to the union hall by 12/21 because
that is the cut off date.

Kevi Haughton

Monday, December 13, 2004


Vice President
Vietzke 186, Bacon 91

Renner 176, Frater 134, Wisniewski 103, Ladd 65, Haughton 42, Schoenleber 42

Stanton 161, Wood 160, Clinger 121, Childears 99

Change to Constitution and By-laws

Yes 248 (92%)
No 23

The other issue on our ballot remains classified until probably later today.

Until the information is released to the public, all we can say is PLAN B passed.

Votes for the issue itself were Yes 153, NO 115
PLAN B 163

Friday, December 10, 2004

AMR gifting and layoffs

From: Jackman, William

Sent: Friday, December 10, 2004 06:25
To: Chain of command
Cc: ''
Subject: Here's a money saving idea chapter II

Over six months ago I submitted thru the chain of command what I thought was a legitimate money saving idea.  This came about as a result of a meeting Mayor West had with us at Station #3 that very same day. Back in May, he spoke sincerely about the dire need to come up with money saving ideas.  He later even offered to attach financial incentive to these ideas.
This isn't about the incentive money - I'd rather see the money used to keep people working.
This week, for the first time in over twenty-five years we have had to lay-off firefighters.  Chief Williams hand delivered these notices to each person involved, I'm sure that wasn't easy and it showed his sincerity.  As an organization, can we honestly say we have done everything possible for the public with respect to this crisis? 
I respectfully request a written reply as to why the department has ignored this simple idea to save money.
Consider the following:

1.) Local 29's attorney has reviewed the AMR contract and this issue and has offered the opinion that this practice amounts to "gifting" our EMS supplies.
2.) At my own expense, my own lawyer has reviewed the same issue and also considers the re-supply issue "gifting".
3.) Rex, the local AMR manager was also contacted about this issue and he even agrees that his company should not be accepting these supplies under most circumstances.
4.) Rustie Stewart says "we spend about $150,000/yr in EMS supplies."
Again, I respectfully request a reply in writing about why the department doesn't want to do anything about this issue.
Respectfully yours
Bill Jackman
14's "B" shift

Last chance to doorbell!

Greg Borg says we've got 2000 more postcards. He says there will be someone at the office tomorrow at 10 am to pass them out to anyone who wants to doorbell.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Hold that volunteerism!

I just received a sad piece of news from a friend in-the-know. Richard Clear - Hater of unions, Despiser of the firefighter and all-around nice guy - had his show cancelled yesterday. So forget about volunteering to replace him. At least, Mr. Clear can find solace in his firing that he didn't have a union sticking up for him. Now, he can really stick it to the man by not filing for unemployment.


"It's not who votes that counts. It's who counts the votes."

Well, Joseph Stalin probably meant something different from what we're driving at, but we do need help counting the votes for our Local 29 elections. Can we count on you to help count the votes on Monday, December 13th, 9:30, at the union office?

If you have any questions, contact Greg Haff -

Volunteer and make Spokane better!

If you want to volunteer for this noble cause, click on the link and write your letter to Mr. Richard Clear. I am sure he has Spokane's best interests at heart and will step down (or at least take a pay cut) immediately. Working as a radio show host probably is really tough, though. So discuss it with your family, write a will, make sure your immunizations are up to snuff and get all the training you can. This volunteer work will be difficult, and Mr. Clear will be a tough act to follow. But, at least you know that, by spreading disinformation, you will ensure regional talk-radio listeners remain comfortable in their ignorance! Cha Ching! My offer follows:


Good Day!

Listened to Richard Clear’s 12-08-04 attack on firefighters and police officers. It was an entertaining fest of ignorance. Mr. Clear got about seven “facts” wrong for every one he got right. But, hey – that’s Show Business!

One suggestion made on his show was – “Why not have volunteer firefighters protect our city?” Those of us familiar with the fire service and volunteer protection, know why volunteers won’t work for a city our size. But, the question was good and it got me to thinking…

I would like to be a volunteer radio talk show host and do Richard Clear’s job. I can’t do it every day. How about once a week? I have broadcast experience. And unlike firefighting, apparently there isn’t a lot of preparation that goes into what Mr. Clear does. Once a week, give Richard the day off – without pay. Take the money you save and pass it on to your advertisers. They, in turn, will pass the savings on to businesses and they, in turn, on to consumers. It’d be like a tax break for everyone! It would really help the Spokane economy start rolling.

Let me know when you want me to start.

With a desire to serve the community,

John Griffith
(Contact info follows)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

What you did with your doorbelling!

City council members have received hundreds of phone calls and hundreds of postcards from citizens who don't want their fire department gutted. And that's all because of the work you did.

Now the ball is in their court. They've heard from the citizens. They've seen the stats. They've heard alternative solutions.

We'll see what happens...

In the meantime, a couple of pieces of news...

The city council meets tomorrow, Thursday, 12/9/04 at 3 pm at City Hall for the last budget meeting. It's open to the public.

Eric Staggs says that the City of Salem Fire Department is interested in hiring any or all of our laid-off medics.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Snohomish job offers

We were contacted by Snohomish Fire District 1 about hiring some of our laid off personnel.  More details when I find out.

Kevin Haughton

Station 1 B

Monday, December 06, 2004

City Council Meeting Tonight - 6 PM!

Tonight will be our last opportunity to stand in front of the city council and tell them why it's a bad idea to gut public safety funding to balance the overall budget. At the last council meeting there was terrific testimony from so many citizens who knew what this cut will mean to them and to our city's future. We still don't know what kind of effect this testimony has had on council members.

It's easy to become discouraged that, having listened to the facts, having seen the figures, having heard the testimony, and knowing that this budget will cut twice as deep into public safety as other departments, the council could turn its back on the electorate and approve the mayor's budget, regardless.

But don't be discouraged. We need to keep speaking the truth and keep reminding our city's leadership about their accountability. And if they proceed with approving this budget, we will be there - in the future - right after "the big one." And we will hold them accountable. And so will the voters.

But that's the future. Right now, we each have a fresh bottle of air. Let's go in one more time to finish this job. See you tonight.


Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Spokesman-Review Ad

This was in the December 1st Regional section. We also have a similar ad in this Thursday's Inlander.

Call your city council - now!

The link above is a sample message that Doug Ross and Dave Kovac have put together, in case you are at a loss for words. Also, don't forget to get friends and relatives to call in, as well

Saturday, November 27, 2004

New city e-mail logon address

Well, I might be the last one to know this, but there's a new city e-mail access address. The sign on stuff remains the same. Just click on the link above and it should take you there. Sorry if this is old news to many of you, but things are otherwise slow. Hope everyone is enjoying Thanksgiving Weekend.


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

City Council Meeting Last Night...

We packed the house. And a lot of our members had great things to say. It seemed like the councilmembers were hearing us, as well. When Borg was speaking, a lot of them were taking notes. The best was the citzens who spoke. I think if we have any success, it will be because the citizens of this city are really angry.

The city acknowledges public safety is at the top of the list for what's important for a city to fund, yet, percentage-wise, they cut fire and police like it's the least important thing a city does. Not a recipe for re-election I would wager.

They replay the city council meeting on channel 5. If you get a chance to watch some of it, do. After watching it, you realize that if the city put a tax on Power Point presentations, we would soon be out of our financial woes. But when I heard what most of the citizens had to say about what we do, I was grateful and humbled. We have such good people in our corner willing to come to come to bat for us, so we can continue to do our job for them.

John G.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Yesterday's doorbelling, today's news....

When I left the office yesterday, there were only about 1000 flyers left. That means we put out 5000 so far. Around 50 firefighters (including a battalion chief) had signed up to deliver the flyers and postcards. Yesterday, we also had KREM, KXLY and KHQ follow firefighters and their families as they doorbell. Thanks to all the families that participated in this effort.

On another note, we had a big write-up in this morning's paper. Other than comparing the current salary of Tacoma firefighters with a salary we will have 2 years from now, it was good. Chief Williams did a great job telling citizens what they can expect from these cuts. We are becoming more unified, and that can only help us in our goal of not gutting the department that the citizens deem as the most essential in the city budget.

Remember the city council meeting tomorrow night at 6 pm. We need to pack the house.


Friday, November 19, 2004

Media will be there for our doorbelling.

We have heard from a couple of TV news stations that they will be at the union office to show our story. Also, they want to follow a couple of doorbellers around while they are doing it. So see you tomorrow morning. Those of you with families, bring them along to the union office when you pick up your stuff. Those of you (quite a few) who have already picked up your stuff, thanks for your work and good luck this weekend. An hour or two of work from all of us will produce some great results.

Unemployment benefits meeting and prep.

For your calendar! Dec 1st 10 am – union office. WA State unemployment officials will give a talk-through and assist you in filling out your unemployment applications. Look for a departmental e-mail coming from Chris Cavanaugh. She will be asking for your Social Security Number. If you give it to her, she will forward the number to the unemployment office. And at the Dec 1st meeting, they will be able to tell you what to expect for benefits.

And democracy marches on… with your help.

Greg Haff needs some volunteers to help him stuff envelopes for the upcoming Local 29 election. When? Monday, November 22nd at 9:30 am. Where? Local 29's office. It won’t take long. And it's actually a pretty good time. Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


This weekend – November 20th and 21st, we will MASSIVELY doorbell Spokane. Come into the union office on Friday - during normal office hours, or on Saturday between 10 am and Noon to pick up your stuff and pick an area to doorbell this weekend. We’re going to alert the press that Saturday and Sunday are the major days that we are doorbelling. So, it would be great to have a lot of people out doing it.

Monday, November 15, 2004

A call from Bridget Luby!

E-mail your city leadership and let them know what you think. It's a Word document that will download to your computer when you click on the link.
Thanks Bridget.


There's now a sign-up sheet and some vague instructions at the Local 29 office. There were people stopping by today to doorbell - a great start! Take as many flyers and postcards as you need and go out and do a neighborhood. It's not a hard sell and, believe it or not, it's pretty fun to do. Maybe we should do CPR classes this way - door to door...

An open letter to Spokane’s leadership…

How does one make sense of the proposed cuts?

To begin, let’s talk round numbers and a simple premise. A round number - there is going to be a 10 percent cut to the city’s overall budget. A simple premise - our citizens and leaders agree that public safety is at the top of the list of what a city’s budget should do for its citizens.

OK, so city leaders know how much they need to cut, and they know what city functions are important to our citizens. Now, they can do one of two things, they could cut an even 10 percent from every department in the city, or they could weigh the cuts in response to what citizens desire from their government. Correspondingly, less than 10 percent would be cut from fire and police services.

But what the city has proposed is, indeed, a puzzling third option. Instead of a 10 percent cut (or less) to Fire and Police, they have more than doubled these cuts - contrary to what citizens want.

And when you do the math, the results are interesting. By cutting 20 percent, and then some, to the departments that citizens want preserved or even bolstered, it enables less than 10 percent to be cut from departments citizens deem not as important – if any cuts take place in these departments at all.

City leaders, if you are going to ignore the Priorities of Government survey, fine. But, don’t go in the opposite direction of its findings. Let’s just have a 10 percent cut across the board in every department in the city’s budget. Don’t subsidize non-essential departments by taking from those deemed essential. It doesn’t make sense. It goes against the wishes of the people, and it’s not good government.

John Griffith
Executive Board, IAFF Local 29

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Doorbelling begins!

We have all the materials at the union office. We will be doing some organized campaigns, probably next weekend - 11-20 and 11-21. But, you don't have to wait for that. Grab your crew and pick a neighborhood (in the city) and go out and do it. Just make sure you sign up and tell us which neighborhood you're going to do, so we don't duplicate our efforts. I went out for about 45 minutes today and hit 30 houses. Everybody I talked to was real supportive. What they usually had to say was that we were getting screwed, but they were getting it worse because of the reduction in their service.

I don't like it when I have to answer the door for solicitors, so I kept that in mind when I was doorbelling. If it looked like there wasn't activity in the front room, I didn't ring the bell. I just left a flyer. The folks I did talk to were happy to take, not only the flyer, but a postcard for the city council as well.

I would grab 1 postcard for every 4 flyers when you are stocking up to go out. Also, if they have any questions you can't answer, Local 29's website and phone number is on the flyer.

If you have any questions for me, give me a call or e-mail

John Griffith

Friday, November 12, 2004

Offer of work from a concerned citizen...

From Kevin Haughton:

Today a citizen came by the union office and offered the following;

Dwayne Phinney needs general handyman work in his rentals ie walls, plumbing, general plumbing, painting, and clean up. The position or positions are part time with very flexible hours so if you are interested give him a call.

Dwayne Phinney 466-9316

List of billboard locales...

This is a word document. The last 2 locations won't go up until Monday.

media briefing materials- Outline

The outline of what was said at the briefing on Wednesday.

media briefing materials- NFPA 1710

From Wednesday's briefing.

Media briefing materials- fire growth

From Wednesday's briefing.

The press conference on Wednesday

DJ Hill and Don Waller did a great job briefing our local media on the budget cut issues. There was a great picture of Greg Borg with a gramatically correct slide in the background (Thanks Jesse) in yesterday's paper.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Mickey Reynolds in motorcycle accident...

We (E3) went up tonight and saw Mickey at Deaconess. He looks pretty banged up, but was in good spirits. Mickey says the deer looks even worse. Mickey might be there tomorrow or longer, so if you're in the neighborhood...

We all wish you a speedy recovery Mickey!


Billboard sighting...

Sprague and Cowley. Anybody else see any of our billboards out there?


Make sure you look in the archives to your right and down a little bit. Only the most current entries are kept on this page. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Rumors about picking and choosing from the seniority list.

Concerning layoffs, Chief Williams has emphatically said there will be no skipping of members on the seniority list because of their paramedic status.

Probationary members' street test delayed...

Chief Hansen has said that there will be no streets test for the probationary members until they return from being laid-off.

From the letter writing committee

From Dave Kovak and Doug Ross. It looks like if the word is going to go out on what these cuts mean to Spokane, we're the only ones who will do it. We'll be door-belling this weekend. More info to follow.

Saturday, November 06, 2004


Here's what you should be seeing around Spokane.

PDF of our situation

Rather large (2.3 mb) PDF of who we are, what we do and why balancing the budget on our backs is bad business for Spokane, its citizens and its future.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

I might have misspoke (go figure)

Last night there were 80 or so people for the contract presentation. It would be great if you can make it out to this morning's. There are a lot of items on the PowerPoint that need explaining. If you are just going to go into the office on Friday to vote, there will be a copy of the PowerPoint, as well as people to answer your questions. Sorry about any confusion.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

If you can't make it to the presentations...

If you can't make it out to the training center, e-mail me and I'll send you the powerpoint presentation of the contract specifics. Remember, you still have to vote on the contract at the union hall on Friday if you don't make it out on Thursday at 10 a.m. to the training center.

The word on firefighter openings

An Xl document from Kevin Haughton. Thanks Kevin.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

A message from Greg Borg...

Brothers and Sisters,

          As I have been visiting stations and talking to people about the crazy state of events, I have heard a considerable amount of panicky talk from our younger members. I thought I would take a minute and write to all and ask a few things of all of you. First of all, the rumor mongering and the sky is falling talk is very hurtful to our younger brothers. Please do no pass on unconfirmed information. Let us spend our time thinking of ideas on how to solve our problems instead of complaining about how bad it is. Before this is over we will need help from each and every member of the Local, please think of a way you can help. Secondly, to our younger members. Please be patient, nothing has happened yet. We will not know the final numbers on the budget until December 15th. Do not make any hasty decisions or do anything that will jepordise your job standing until you know the end result. We have six weeks to influence the City Council and Mayor West to put money back into the Fire Department budget. We have just begun to fight.

    At this moment we are coming off of a 30 month struggle to protect our contract and get a decent pay raise for all. We have won that battle. We saw the City Council pass a early retirement buy out last night, that could mean up to ten (10) jobs saved. We need to vote on our contract and have the council vote to pass it.

    There are several ideas we are working on with the Mayor that could save another 15 to 20 jobs. So lets not panic. Let's not come to work with bad attitudes, please be patient. We will work our butts off and use every recourse we have avalible to save jobs. Our current struggle gives us the opportunity to show each other what our "brotherhood" is all about. United we can be successful. Your Union leadership is working, thinking, planning and lobbying 24/7 to archive a reduced number of layoffs. It is most important to be kind to each other and look out for the other guy.

    With Hope, Greg

Council votes YES on buyout!

Monday night your City Council voted by a 6 to 1 margin to offer a buyout package. There is a set amount of money put aside for this purpose. They are offering $15,000, that's fifteenthousand dollars, to be put into a medical payment account. Any member that takes the offer will be able to use the money for any medical bill or payment. This money is tax-free.

There is one important clause, it is on a first come first serve basis. This applies to the whole city. The sooner you apply the better your chances are. This money will not be there next year. So, use it or lose it. Call imediately, 625-6363, ask fo Kris Cavanaugh or Mike Shea. Good luck.

Monday, November 01, 2004

The official version from VP Duke

From: Snider, Kenneth
Sent: Monday, November 01, 2004 16:53
To: SFD Local 29
Subject: Contract Vote

Hey All:

There will be a contract presentation and vote at the Training Center on the following dates:

Wednesday, 11/3, 6 p.m.

Thursday, 11/4, 10 a.m.

Ballot box will also be available in the Union Office from 0900-1300 hrs on Friday, 11/5 (no presentation)

These will be your only chances to hear about and vote on the proposed contract.

Remember, you must be a Local 29 bargaining unit member (this includes Dispatch, of course) to vote.

*****Since this is not enough notice for everyone to see this notice before the vote, we ask you to call those on the B and C shifts, and anyone who is off.  You relief guys might want to call your fellow travelers, just in case no one else does.   Thanks *****


These meetings are open only to Local 29 bargaining unit members.

All meetings will be at the SFD Training Center.

Meeting on Wednesday, November 3rd at 6 p.m.
Meeting on Thursday, November 4th at 10 a.m.

You can cast your vote at one of the meetings.

You can also vote at the union office on Friday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Kevin Haughton's updates on firefighter jobs...

If you think you are going to be laid off, make sure you check your departmental e-mail for updates from Kevin regarding job openings - some with lateral entry. We've decided to keep the specifics out of the public domain of this website - for obvious reasons. Thanks Kevin for your work on this.

And if you want to be able to check your e-mail from home (maybe you want Informational Notice specifics on how to check hydrants on your days off), and you don't have the portal address, e-mail me and I'll get it right to you.

Rally for pro-firefighter candidates- AMTRAK Station - Spokane WA - October 30th - 2004.

An interesting thing happened to some of us trying to make it into the rally.


Knowing that the spectrum of political beliefs is wide in our department, we want to keep the partisan stuff to a minimum on this website. So, please take the warning seriously.

It's an interesting story (at least to me). But, your continued readership is important, especially as we try to get the word out on the contract (still under wraps - except for word-of-mouth) and the layoffs. So if you think that reading this article will make you swear off this website - don't read it!

Friday, October 29, 2004

Political Rally at AMTRAK station!

Saturday, 10-30-04. Be at the train station at 9:30 am to get your really cool firefighters for Gregoire T-Shirt. They're so cool, they will go fast! The rally starts at 10 am. Hope to see you there to support all the candidates who support our union and champion our issues.


Local 29 has tentatively agreed to the contract with the city, late this evening. We meet with the city on Monday to finalize. After that we'll let you know the details. We will schedule informational meetings, as well. After you've had a chance to see what's in the contract, we'll vote on it. If we ratify the contract, the city council has to vote on it.

By Tuesday, we’ll know the times and place for the informational meetings. Thanks for all your patience. We'll keep you posted via this blog.

Greg, Ken and Mike

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Early Retirement Info from Greg Borg...

Today all city locals received a "draft" offer for an early retirement incentive. It is a draft because the council must approve it first. Some of the details are as follows.

     If you are over 50 years old and have 21 or more years with the city, they will put $15,000 in to a medical savings account. You can have up to ten years to take the money out. It can be used on medical premiums, co-pays, RX, dental, some eye care. Anything medical for you or your dependents. If you wish to take advantage of it you must let them know by November 19.

     We will post the city's copy as soon as it is avalible. We asked about a LEOFF I member that has no medical expenses for himself or his family. Their reply was this is what they are offering.


North Shore hiring...

From: Mike Morris


Sent: Monday, October 25, 2004 2:04 PM

Subject: hiring

Local 29,

I recently became aware of your possible staffing layoff situation. I
wanted to let you know we are currently accepting applications for entry
level ff. Applications are due by Oct. 29th and we will be filling one
or two positions. I recognize this isn't much to offer, but nonetheless
it is an opportunity. Please contact our administrative assistant for

Michael Morris
Local 2459

Latest from Duke on agreements with management for those laid off

Today in L/M we signed an agreement turning the draft list into a list that starts from the bottom and loops when it reaches the last estimated lay-off candidate (to be reassessed if things change) i.e., only those slated to be laid off will receive drafts.  This change will last until Dec. 31.

Admin said they would continue covering paramedic school costs; would have no problem sponsoring guys who might neeed a sponsor to recert if they don't have one.
They will attempt to assign the probie medics to medic spots so they get paid full medic pay.  Currently assigned pms wouold have to be displaced until 12/31. (No details.)

Official lay-off date per the mayor is 12/30.  Admin will take care of any shifts owed after that date---no deducts for unworked shifts.
More when we know more.

p.s. On negots:  we have agreed to meet again on Friday, 10/29, to see if we can achieve settlement.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

ICMA funds are yours, if you are laid off...

Spoke with ICMA today about the emergency withdrawal of funds from ICMA
retirement accounts. Michelle at ICMA said that "loss of wages" was an
eligible reason to apply for non-penalty release of funds. Total dollars
released could be equal to that of the lost wages. She said that if several
people are going to do this through the City of Spokane that they could give a
blanket approval to F/F's laid off so each wouldn't have to apply separately.
Those F/Fs should contact Diane Hendricks at Human Resources (625-6364) for
info regarding ICMA and the city.


These kids rode the bus in from Millwood, by themselves, to attend the rally to save our jobs.

Originally uploaded by BillFoss.
What gumption! There were around 40 firefighters there (I think). Some people thought that was a poor turnout. People who've done a lot of the union stuff know that's about 10 time the people we usually get! Maria Cantwell gave a great speech, as did two congressmen from our state. Barbieri's speech was outstanding. This guy should win the election, if common sense prevails. In other words,...Click the link for more photos!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Chief Williams Announces Budget Numbers

I said yesterday I was going to give you the notes on Chief Williams' budget talk. Been in meetings most of the day.

I'm pretty sure, by now, everyone has heard what has been said. The video will be playing on your shift. It's very much worth watching, Also, Mayor West's budget talk was today and has received a lot of media coverage. So read the paper tomorrow. I will summarize quickly (accurately?) what I heard Chief Williams say. Again, call the station and talk to one of your buckos for more information, or wait til you work and watch the video the chief has put together. I'm not a very fast typist (or very good for that matter), so when you read the info that follows, keep that in mind.

Summary of Chief Williams’ speech on 10-25-04 regarding the budget:

Administration has talked to other departments that are hiring.
HR, admin and Local 29 working together on this.
Talk of extending the laid-off list to indefinite - Civil Service will look at it.
4.3 million SFD deficit , but there will be a $500 k reduction upon slightly increasing property taxes.

reduction around 20% of staff.

Talked about the mid year reductions which you probably already know about.

The 4 alternatives

1. close 3 fire stations
2. reduce company staffing 4-3
3. 3 man engine co to 2 man
4. close 1 station

More to each of these, but details are intricate. Chief Williams will brief at a later date.

Mayor decided to not close any fire stations - picked the 4 person companies to 3 person option.

Rigs closing:


Reductions in training and prevention staff.

55 positions to be laid off. This is before any retirements.
Dec 30th is the last day of work for people being laid off. City HR will answer any questions. It is their field of expertise.

Will give advance letters of layoff to people who want to laterally transfer before Dec 30th.
Local 29 contract settlements will be retro-active with those who retire before contract is settled.

The process

Mayor submits a budget by the end of this week.
Nov through December city council will debate
13th of December budget will be finalized.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Greg Borg's news on some layoff changes...

The administration has agreed to these changes. Some minor details remain to be worked out. The changes:

1. Drafts - All drafts, for the rest of the year, will go to the potentially laid-off 55 members, starting with the least senior.
2. Union business trades. This one's a little more hard to explain. But, let's say a Lt. needs a trade for union biz, he can trade with a member who is not an officer and doesn't usually ride the seat. This is providing someone on that company can ride the seat.

Greg says that's all for now, but to stay tuned.

Chief Williams Announces Budget Numbers

This is kind of an internal thing until 9:30 tomorrow when the Mayor announces the plan. I'll post it after that, but if you want to call your station and ask what was said, go for it. Or you can e-mail here.

A look at some of the committees to address the layoffs.

This sign-up sheet was what came out of the special union meeting we had the other day. Some things have changed since then. One thing that hasn't changed is how much help we are going to need once we get the ball rolling.

From making signs to making phone calls, from doorbelling to letter writing, there's enough work to go around. We need some folks (about 9 or so) to be in charge of getting the word out via phone to members when we need to mobilize. If you are interested, please call Jenny at the office.

A re-organization plan that saves jobs and maintains service.

Some have been crunching the numbers for a reconfiguration plan. Check this out. What do you think?

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Are there other ways? - Your ideas...

Lot of folks have mentioned the lack of imagination that seems to be surrounding this budget crisis. Do you have some ideas on how the Spokane Fire Department can save money, or even make money, while saving our already understaffed (soon to be catastrophically understaffed) fire department? If you have some ideas, send them in. We'll update this post as we get them.
What we have received so far:


Interfacility Transport using our Medic units.

   Collection rate is about 90%

   It would free up more AMR units for City 911 calls.

   We wouldn't be doing anything that another private ambulance company could provide.


Strike Team of Wildland Rigs / National Contract Engines

   Not State Mob!

Advertising on the side of Apparatus

   Other Cities have done it - let's people know how cash poor we are.


Medstar ground transport/shuttle.

   Involves moving their fixed wing crew and patient from Felts Field to a Hospital.

   Also involves ground transports when the weather prohibits flight operations.


Provide 911 transport outside the City (i.e. Districts 1, 8 and 9)

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Mike Rose finds some info for potential retirees...

I spoke with Darlene and one of the city accountant's about retro contract payments after you retire. They said that you would be paid the same for the time that you worked for the retro even if you were retired. So if you were thinking that you would give up retro pay if you were retired ,you would not. If you have any questions please contact Dar in retirement, Rosey

Comparables from Don Waller

Don, has put together some great information on our staffing levels compared to similar cities, When you look at the run volume and population, there is no doubt that citizens in Spokane are alrady being underserved. Next year, if the layoffs occur, our citizens will be receiving a level of service that borders on negligence. PR will use these numbers to help get the word out. But, PR is something we can all do. Here are the facts. Spread the word to friends, family and neighbors.

I converted Don's Excel document to HTML. If you have a hard time reading it with your browser, or you just want the Excel doc., e-mail me and I'll get it to you.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

An invitation to refi your mortgage while you can...

Dear Fellow Firefighters,

I will most likely be one of the members being laid off. As I hope for the best yet plan for the worst, I will go back to Washington Mutual Bank full time. I have been working for the bank for 6 years and am in good standings with them as a mortgage loan officer. (With President Borg’s endorsement), one way I might be of help to some of you facing the same future with the Dept. is consolidating your debt into one loan. The credit union has an aggressive 2nd mortgage loan but does not offer any of the traditional 1st mortgage products. Since officially we are not laid off, I am still able to refinance your homes. One of the biggest products Washington Mutual offers is an interest only loan. It has a stable low rate and allows for very low monthly payments. This might be a way to manage your debt load with out harming your credit during this difficult time. With Todd Powel’s permission, I will be at the Credit Union meeting Oct 26th and 27th if you have any questions. We can crunch the numbers and try to come up with a game plan. If you would like to talk earlier than this please call my cell phone at 994-4934 or office at 353-3596.

Rob Mathews
1134 13’s-A shift

How we got into this mess.

Perusing a Local 29 Newsletter back from August of 2001, happened upon an article about I-747 (limiting property tax increases to one percent per year). We were warned that the Tim Eyman initiative would make it almost impossible for city governments to pay the bills. Well, looks like the article might have had something there, by gum. Here's a shorter article with the same drift.

Brother Jesse's Unemployment Manifesto

Holy Guacamole, Jesse has researched like a madman. Anything you want to know about unemployment bennies is in the link above. Thanks Jesse!

Word from Gonzo on unemployment benefits...

Hey Bill,

Just a note on some stuff I called on......

Retirement--Benni's are figured from the effective date of the contract and would also be retro'ed to those who might retire before the contract is settled.  They would get set up then get retro payment from DRS for the Benni's missed.  This from a phone call to DRS.  Maybe you could get one of your folks to call them and get something in writing or if you would like I could do it next week.
Deferred Comp $$$$--I called Aetna and talked with Steve Gray and asked about the money in the 457 for those laid off.  He said they have full access to the account once they are not working and they can take it out several months later or not at all.  The big thing is there are NO penalties.  You just have to pay regular taxes on the money.  So even though there may not be very much there, it's something.

Hope it helps


.....It does. Thanks very much Gonzo!

Late breaking news...

Station Rep Turpen talked to Chris Cavanaugh - SFD HR Director. She says that for those who will be laid off, here's what they can expect:

1. Last day will be December 30th (We're working on that one).
2. You will be cashed out for your next year's vacation.
3. Your sick leave hours will still be there when you return.
4. Hours in your time bank will be cashed out (if you have any).

Also, contrary to what you heard yesterday at the meeting, it doesn't matter if your wife is working, or how much she makes when you go to collect unemployment.

All this from Turpen. He welcomes your calls today at Station 3, if you have any questions.

PR Committee

The PR Committee met today. In a nutshell, we (Bridget Luby, DJ Hill, Darryl Wisniewski, Doug Ross, Scott Butler, John Griffith, John Goodman, Alex Mickschl and Mark Vietzke) decided to approach the issue of our layoffs in two phases. The first phase would be an educational campaign to let people know what the fire dept. is going to look like and a call to action to contact city govt. The second phase will kick in when there is a plan to increase revenue. Where we will need help: doorbelling, speakers' bureau, city council attendance, news media contacts, letters to the editor, and on and on. Contact Darryl - the chairman of the committee - to help.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Notes from Special Union Meeting on October 20th, 2004

Click to view

Rally for Barbieri - Media opportunity to show Spokane who we are and what we want.

Don Barbieri, Local 29's candidate for the 5th Congressional District (Nethercutt's position) will be having a public safety workers' rally. Senator Maria Cantwell and other US members of Congress will be there, and more importantly, so will the Spokesman-Review and TV news. This is our first opportunity to speak out against budget cuts. We'll probably not get a better chance to voice our opinions until after the layoffs are announced. Show Spokane you care about you and your brothers' and sisters' jobs, and that you care about the safety of our citizens and the survival of our city.

WHERE: Public property (sidewalks, streets, boulevard) around Station 4 - the current Station 4.
WHEN: Tuesday, October 26th, 2:30 p.m., B-Shift, It'll last 30-45 minutes

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Special union meeting - 9:30 a.m., Wednesday - October 20th

What's going on with the budget? What are the administration's plans? Layoffs?

We may or may not know some answers by then. Whatever we know, we'll let you know. You know?