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)