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

Brad Cassell for E-Board Letter!

Brad Cassell
The louder alternative
For E board

I would like to ask for your vote for E Board. Anybody who knows me knows that anything I have to say I say loudly, and for all to hear. I have been on the job for 9 years and feel that it is time to get involved. I’ve been the station rep for station 16 and having worked all over this job I think I have a handle on what is going on with our job and union. I, as many, feel that the communication between the “man on the street” and the many at the top has been cut off at the ankles. I personally don’t have a plan on fixing this problem, but am willing to try.

I would like to see many more of my union brothers and sisters involved in the decisions that our union and admin leaders are making. It seems to me that it’s always the same people running for our union leadership positions, and I think it’s time for a change. If you’re not in the circle you don’t have any input. If elected, I plan on listening to any and all ideas even if they suck! I hear good ideas every day around the kitchen table. No matter how good these ideas, if they are not heard at the top then they will never get implemented. If you have something to say I will listen and try to do my best to make this job even better.

I would also like to see more opportunities for our brotherhood to get together. When I came on this job just a few years ago there seemed to be endless opportunities available to hang out together as a group. Lately it seems that other than union meetings, the prom and carousel night, there aren’t the opportunities we used to have to get to know one another off the job. Even these events have the same people attending most of the time. I don’t have any answers for this either, but once again I’m willing to try.

Well there’s my pitch, I tried to keep it short and simple,


Don Waller for E-Board Letter!

Brothers and Sisters,

I would like to thank you for taking the time to consider me for a position on Local 29’s Executive Board. I think all the candidates would do a great job. I have been interested in the union dealings since I started my career as a firefighter. The union, through the committees it has representatives on, and negotiations has major input on the direction our department takes on most issues. In the past I have been involved by helping with the gathering of information for the last contract negotiations, PR committee during the budget cuts, and debit day committee. One of my major tasks on the PR committee was putting together detailed information for a media packet and presentation. I was on the recent debit day committee in which I developed a plan for a possible solution. I think that it is an e-board member’s responsibility to look at every issue in various aspects and weigh each one. These aspects include the following: Is it something the members need or want? How will it affect all our members? What will the future consequences be? In other words will a new policy be made in reaction to our decision that ends up being worse for the members? Is it worth what we may have to give up? I would try to look into every issue in depth evaluating the benefit of now versus the effects in the future. I strive to look at every conceivable solution, even those that may be considered “outside of the box”, and those negative solutions others may want for us. We need to look at new creative solutions that can benefit all sides. One of my strongest attributes is my ability to analytically look at a problem from all sides. This was a big help when I served on the debit day committee and came up with a possible solution. I had even more options that were not agreed upon by both sides. The near future is going to be very important for SFD and L29. We will have new contract negotiations, possibility of a levy lid lift election, fire bond election, mayoral race, and other political races. The next couple years will impact our department’s future immensely. If we are not proactive in the solutions and changes we could feel the negative affects throughout all of our careers. The union needs to make sure the public is aware of how our department is being run, how their money is spent, and where things may be overly or inadequately funded. We will all be better off we can get the public support, the politically support, support from our department leaders, and support from our members to be adequately funded so that we can have a safe, efficient, effective fire department. It will make our fight for wages and benefits a smaller battle to win. I do not have a specific agenda, or an issue that I want changed. I promise to look at every issue fairly, analytically, and think of all possible solutions. I will make sure every opinion, desire, or issue that is brought to me is forwarded to the e-board or appropriate committee. I will support what ever side of and issue the majority of the job wants, no matter what my personal feeling is on it. I think if we can come up with new solutions, showing that all sides can benefit we can succeed. The time of the fat budget, doing it the way we always have is gone. We are going to have to change to survive, and it will take some thought to make sure that change happens in a positive way and we not only to keep what we have but always stride to improve.

Don Waller

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Dan Renner for President Letter!

Brothers and Sisters,
Hopefully by now I have visited most of you, and I appreciate you taking the time to sit and talk about the upcoming election. As always, there are a lot of good questions and good ideas out there. Many people asked what my priorities would be if elected, what my goals were, etc. Obviously we will be entering negotiations soon, and that would be priority #1. Then there are the chronic budget challenges that we face, and have to try and creatively deal with. But that’s just the beginning. I would ask you, what do YOU want our priorities and goals to be? You, the members, ARE Local 29. You decide where you want us to go, and then it is the job of the elected leadership to work to try and get us there. When you vote for a President, you are voting for the candidate you feel has the right personality, the experience, and the knowledge of what Local 29 does to effectively communicate on your behalf, and work to accomplish the things that are important to you. That is the job of the President, and I feel that I have the tools to best do the job for you. If you agree, I would appreciate your vote.
Thanks for reading.
Dan Renner

Doug Bacon for President Letter!

This Union is facing challenges in communications, contract negotiations, & LEOFF II improvements. I can lead Local 29 in resolving our issues. I have the time, experience, job knowledge, ideas & drive to accomplish these goals. I am eager to listen to you and resolve your issues.
It is imperative that we improve communications from the kitchen table to the City Council chambers and at every level in between. We cannot have our members feeling left out, ignored and uninformed. We need a Local 29 Media Committee to develop & implement ways to make sure that the public is aware of what we do and what we have given and given up for the citizens. Using the Executive Board & Station Representatives more effectively is imperative. Local 29 must be accountable to you to effectively lead.
We must start negotiations as quickly as allowed. We need to either have a contract signed or be in arbitration by September 2007. We cannot let the contract expire without being in Arbitration. The City needs to know we are ready for this step at the first negotiations meeting!
If we don't take a leadership role in LEOFF II in this State, who will. We have many ideas on what needs to be changed or improved. We just need to put these ideas into legislation and make sure these proposals are passed in Olympia. We need a Local 29 LEOFF II Pension Board to find ways to get money for medical expenses after retirement. I've expressed possible ways to do this. We need to make sure that the 790 Committee & the W.S.C.F.F. are listening to our concerns and our ideas. What is important to Spokane Firefighters better be important to these entities.
I ask for your support with these issues.

Doug Bacon