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Austin Firefighters Association


2018 PROPOSED BUDGET - EDUCATIONAL PAGE - ONLINE VOTE DEC. 19 TO DEC. 21

(NO DUES INCREASE IN 2018 BUDGET) 

12/13/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Your AFA Eboard is proud to present to you another responsible budget with NO dues increase. By watching the pennies carefully, we are still able to make significant investments in the AFA SPAC to prepare for upcoming City Council races, increase savings for the AFA Legal Defense Fund, fund training & travel, a stipend for the newly formed AFA Human Relations Committee and much more. 

VERY IMPORTANT - AFA can recommend dues increases up to 1.25% of a one year firefighters base pay (does not include longevity or other stipend pay). We are currently below this by $6.44 per month.  I continue to propose NO dues increase budget to encourage members to make voluntary contributions to the AFA Pension Protection PAC. Member donations to the Pension Protection PAC ONLY go to the protection of our most important and frequently attacked asset...our pension. Many firefighters give to the AFA Pension Protection PAC and this has been instrumental in keeping the Austin firefighters pension clear from the many pension attacks we witness each Legislative session

If you are not sure if you give to the Pension Protection PAC, please contact me directly by responding to this email and I will help you check to see if you do. 

If you do not contribute, I am asking that you do. Much more than a dues increase, we need your voluntary contributions to the Pension Protection PAC. Please response to this email if you would like more information about the AFA Pension Protection PAC.

Another example: a 12 year FF only pays .8% ($26.25 per pay period) of their salary to AFA dues, please consider contributing to the Pension Protection PAC. 

The AFA Membership Discussion Board link below will serve to discuss the 2018 Proposed Budget as wells as 2018 AFA Priorities. PLEASE review the discussion board before voting. The only way to make an informed decision is to participate by asking your questions on the discussion board and reviewing the questions and answers of others.

 

Click here for Discussion page

 

Online Voting will be conducted 12/19 to 12/21

 

Click here to VIEW the 2018 AFA Proposed Budget (Comparison with 2017 Approved Budget)

 

Click here to VIEW the 2018 AFA Priorities


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December 13, 2017

PRESS CONFERENCE - DECEMBER 11, 2017

I would like to start out by thanking our 4 speakers who showed great poise and courage to speak up during the Press Conference held on Monday - December 11, 2017. Thanks to Vanessa Schaefer, Erin Dempsey, Rikki Stankevitz and Christine Jones.

I would also like to thank all of the AFA members who showed up for the Press Conference. 

The combination of a strong contingent of Austin Firefighters as well as a well delivered message by our 4 speakers contributed to this extremely successful Press Conference. 

 

CLICK HERE TO SEE VIDEO OF PRESS CONFERENCE

 

- Here are some of the news stories that came from covering our Press Conference:

 

http://www.fox7austin.com/news/local-news/austin-firefighters-accuse-department-of-not-properly-investigating-sexual-assault-complaints

 

http://www.kvue.com/news/local/former-austin-firefighter-indicted-for-allegedly-recording-in-female-locker-room/498614699

 

http://kxan.com/2017/12/11/female-firefighters-say-afd-failed-to-investigate-misconduct-complaints/

 

http://cbsaustin.com/news/local/austin-firefighters-group-defends-its-leader-in-war-of-words-with-attorney

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Austin Firefighters Association - Local 975 - Logos

 

Click here for Logo 1000 X 1000

 

Click here for Logo 4233 X 4217

 

Click here for Logo 163 X 163

 

 

 


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12/07/2017

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

In response to misleading media statements by Jim Baker and his attorney, The AFA will be holding a press conference at AFA Hall on Monday, December 11th at 10:45am.

 

The purpose of our press conference is for members to express their concerns regarding management's failure to investigate multiple allegations of inappropriate touching of female patients by Jim Baker, and  how this failure to investigate may have enabled the alleged illegal video recording in the Women's shower and lock room. 

 

Baker and his attorney have suggested that our union is on a witch hunt and that the allegations made against him in 2013 were wrong. Jim Baker's attorney stated "So what you have is some firefighters that don't know what the hell they are doing saying ‘Oh that looked inappropriate to me'  And they don't know medical procedures." The AFA staunchly opposes these ill-conceived notions and proudly stands behind our sisters and brothers in their attempts to maintain a safe workplace for all members.

 

We need the support of the entire membership at this press conference. Please plan on attending this press conference to support our union and your brother and sister firefighters who have been negatively affected by this issue.

 

Please respond to this email if you can attend. We already have serveral members lined up to speak. If you would like to make a statement at the press conference, please let us know by responding to the email.

 

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 


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12/08/2017

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

The City of Austin (COA) risk management section has a blanket policy of denying all work related firefighter cancer claims. We currently have several Austin Firefighters being denied Workers Compensation benefits for work related cancer. This will be a major issue for the AFA Membership from this point forward until the COA changes their practices and recognizes that science demonstrates the strong correlation between firefighting and cancer and treats this as the on-duty injury it is.

Please review the news story below:

https://kxan.com/2017/12/06/retired-austin-firefighter-with-cancer-sues-city-after-being-denied-workers-comp/

KXAN brought those concerns to city officials, who responded saying the city has no blanket policy when it comes to any workers' comp claims and that a third party administrator evaluates each claim individually and follows the processes mandated by state law.

Essentially, the statement above made by the COA that they have no blanket policy  denying all firefighters workers comp cancer claims is, at a minimum, purposely misleading and objectively false.

COA Risk management does confer on a daily basis with the third party administrator to determine which claims will and will not be accepted; however, the COA has stated that when the claim involves cancer, the claim will be denied.  Even more important, during the entire appeals process  after denial of the cancer claim (one or more benefit review hearings; a contested case hearing,  and/or District Court) ONLY COA Risk Management, COA legal and other COA sections are involved.  The third party administrator, whom the COA states is integral to the decision-making process, is not involved in the appeal because in legal fact, they were not party to the denial. 

Another good recent story from KXAN on the firefighter problems:

http://kxan.com/2017/11/13/dogs-will-help-austin-fire-department-detect-early-signs-of-cancer/

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 


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12/01/2017

The latest news on the Baker allegations and Chief Kerr's failure to investigate in 2013, see below.

Both Jim Baker and Chief Kerr, in their various statements to the press, share the same narrative in spite of the evidence: that the firefighters that reported the alleged inappropriate conduct are wrong. 

If a firefighter would brush a curb with a fire truck, they were getting time off and public humiliation.  What does Chief Kerr deserve for not conducting the investigation of the evidence alleging inappropriate touching of a patient, continually exposing the public and the firefighters to the very person accused of this alleged conduct and not accepting any responsibility when one or more women firefighters were filmed in their shower and locker-room? 

It is the hallmark of a good leader to take responsibility for their actions or lack thereof. It is disgraceful that Chief Kerr potentially enabled Jim Baker to record in the woman's shower and locker-room but took no responsibility, and even worse continues to discredit the firefighters that came forward. 

12/01/2017 Austin Chronicle 

Old Story from Fox7 News

11/16/2017

http://www.fox7austin.com/news/local-news/former-afd-lieutenant-charged-after-setting-up-camera-in-locker-room

11/15/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Given recent events that have come to light, I think it is very important to communicate to the membership, the AFA's position on harassment in our workplace.  As a whole, Austin Firefighters exhibit positive work place behaviors and are inclusive and respectful to our fellow firefighters and the community we serve. However, as we have seen from the recent incident in which at least one of our sisters, a female firefighter, was changing in her locker room after showering and was video recorded - as well as other incidents that have come to light since this incident, it is clear that there is still work to be done. To improve the workplace further - will require a cultural change and it will take all of us working together to help bring this about.  Harassment can be stopped in both its open and hidden forms by encouraging all people to live by the basic principle of respect and that every person is entitled to a healthy, professional and welcoming workplace. 

The AFA will be staffing and investing in our long dormant AFA Human Relations Committee. The HR Committee will help advise and direct both the AFA EBoard and members so as to bring about the cultural change necessary to end workplace harassment by working towards a more inclusive and respectful workplace.

If you have any interest in serving on the AFA Human Resources Committee, please let me know by responding to this email.

 

2018 AFA Membership Budget Workday: The workshop is scheduled for 9:00 AM on November 28, 2017. During this budget workshop we will be gathering ideas from the membership, developing AFA goals and objectives for 2018 and hashing out the 2018 AFA budget. Both the final 2018 AFA Goals and Objectives and Budget will be approved by the membership via online vote in December. If you wish to attend, ABL will be provided on a first come first serve basis.

 

Officer Election Results: At the AFA Membership meeting on November 14, 2017, the AFA Elections Committee reported to the membership that the AFA Officer Nomination period ended with only one person accepting the nomination in each of the open positions. Therefore, as per our Constitution and Bylaws, "If only one (1) candidate is nominated for (a position, that) candidate shall be declared elected by acclamation.".  So all candidates for the open positions are declared elected by acclamation.

Here are the elected candidates for the respective positions:

AFA President - Bob Nicks

AFA VP's - Christine Jones, Lynn Eichler and David Spidle

AFA Trustee - Aaron Brooks

Please join with me in thanking Geoff Mitchell for his many years of service as an AFA VP. Geoff is still an Officer on the AFA PAC Committee. Also, we welcome David Spidle as the newly elected AFA VP.  

 

New AFA Motions: The are four (4) new motions, two (2) addressing making the membership aware that your AFA Representative can assist members with harassments complaints. The two others motions are proposed changes to the AFA Constitution and Bylaws.

 

Click on link below to learn about and discuss the 2 Motions: 17-7 and 17-8 - related to Harassment Representation:

http://iafflocal975.org/forums/one/viewmessages.cfm?Forum=366&Topic=353

 

Click on link below to learn about and discuss the 2 Motions: 17-9 and 17-10 - related to Revisions to the Constitution and ByLaws:

http://iafflocal975.org/forums/one/viewmessages.cfm?Forum=365&Topic=354

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 


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Brother and Sister Firefighterrs,

This is a reminder of the upcoming AFA Budget Workshop scheduled for November 28th starting at 0900 at the AFA Hall. 

Please click here to review the proposed 2018 AFA Goals and Budget

 

Here is the remaing 2018 AFA Budget Process:

  • AFA Membership Budget Workshop - 0900 on November 28th. 
    • Please bring your ideas for both the proposed budget and 2018 goals
  • AFA Eboard finalize proposed budget at December Eboard Meeting on December 4th
  • Final 2018 Proposed Budget and Goal presented at December Membership Meeting on December 12th
  • 2018 Final AFA Goals and Budget approved by on-line vote starting December 19th.
Please respond to this email if you have any questions.
Bob Nicks
Preisdent, Austin Firefighters Association 

 

 


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Reminder to Vote on 4 AFA Motions

Reminder - The online vote for (4) motions ends Thanksgiving Day at 5:00pm

Latests News Stories on Chief Kerr Failure to Investigate 2013 Allegations of Inappropiate Touching of Women Patients

11/22/2017 KXAN Story

11/22/2017 CBS Austin-KVUE Story

Austin Chronicle 

11/22/2017 Front Page Stateman Story

NOVEMBER 21, 2017

Just as a reminder, this morning voting started on four (4) New AFA Motions: 

- two (2) addressing making the membership aware that your AFA Representative can assist members with harassments complaints

Motion 17-7: The AFA will inform the membership that if a member reports a harrassment complaint to their chain of command and the member wishes to receive assistance from the AFA, the AFA will assign a representative to assist the member through the process and help ensure that the complaint is handled by AFD management appropriately.  

Motion 17-8: During the first quarter of each calendar year, the AFA Secretary/Treasurer will communicate to the AFA membership information reminding the members that the AFA, if requested by the member, will assign a representative to assist the member through the harassment complaint process and help ensure that the complaint is handled by AFD management appropriately.  

- two (2) are proposed changes to the AFA Constitution and Bylaws

Motion 17-9: Move to revise ByLaw Article 7, Section 1 to read as follows:

All Officers will be elected at large and shall serve two (2) year staggered terms. The President and three (3) Vice Presidents will be elected in the odd-numbered years. The Secretary/Treasurer and four (4) Vice Presidents will be elected in the even-numbered years. Trustees will be elected at large and shall serve a three (3) year term. The Trustees terms of office will be staggered with one (1) Trustee elected each year.

Motion 17-10 - Move to add ByLaw Section 10 to Article 3 to read as follows:

Membership in Affiliated Labor Organizations. The same voting rules that the IAFF requires to unaffiliate with another labor organization will apply when voting to affiliate with same labor organization. 

 

Voting will end at 5 PM on Thursday - November 23, 2017

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 


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AFA Response to a KXAN Inquiry from a few minute ago:

Hi, Bob:

 

We saw the story in the Statesman about the investigation.

http://www.mystatesman.com/news/local/austin-fire-lieutenant-accused-recording-women-locker-room/72rmXJfOGPsJAEe18cUWnN/

 

Could you or the union provide KXAN a statement about this?

 

Sure, If these allegations end up being true...this is disgusting and despicable behavior that will not be tolerated by the Fire Chief, the Austin Firefighter Association or any of the fine men and women firefighters of the Austin Fire Department. This repulsive, sickening act is very much outlier behavior and not even close to the way Brother and Sister Austin Firefighters normally treat each other. If this allegations are true, he is not one of us.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 

 

 

 


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10/1/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The Proposed CBA was approved by Council Thursday so the new overtime rules are now in effect as of midnight 9/30/2017 (12 hour 9/30/2017 old CBA/ 12 hours 10-1-2017 new CBA). 

If you have overtime within your 19 day cycle and wish to recieve overtime pay (NOT straight time pay) to would need to ask your BC to use exception vacation instead of regualr vacation.

 

 


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09/21/2017

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

The results are in for the online vote to ratify the proposed 2017 CBA. The CBA was ratified with 505 members voting "Yes".

Please click here to see a full report of the results.

City Council will take action to approve the proposed CBA at their regular meeting next Thursday, September 28th.

I wish to thank all of the members of the AFA Bargaining Team for their incredible efforts under difficult conditions. Also a big thanks to the membership who took the time to educate themselves on the proposed CBA and vote. Our Association can only be strong when we have an informed and participating membership. 

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association  

 

 


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9/18/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Please click here to access the AFA Membership Education Page for the proposed CBA.

Click Here to On-Line Vote - Vote starts Tuesday September 19th at8:00am and continues until Thursday September 21st at 5:00pm


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9/17/2017

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The AFA is taking the alleged filming in a women's locker room very seriously but only condemning these activities is not enough. Coming to light are disturbing personal stories that, if true, may indicate an inadequate approach to past investigations (above the PSO level) that may have perpetuated this problem.

The AFA wants to discuss all these issues with the membership so we can determine what actions need to be taken. Please plan on attending the AFA membership meeting on Wednesday September 20th at 0900 - 11:00 to discuss these issues. This meeting will be held at AFA Hall, 7537 Cameron Road.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

The AFA will make ABL available for those who wish to attend If you wish ABL to attend, please respond to this email with your name, TXFER #, Supervisor name, assignment and shift. We will request ABL on a first come, first serve basis.

 

 


 

 

9/13/2017

 

Investigation Surrounding the Alleged Filming in a Women's Locker Room   

The association has been hearing that there are several individuals that either think they may have been victims, or believe they have information that could be helpful or relevant to the investigation but do not know what to do with this information. We have reached out to the Detective in charge of the case and are waiting to hear back. As soon as we have direction from APD on what they would like you to do with this information, we will let you know. In the meantime, please remember that Dr. Kruse is a resource for all members and can be reached at (512) 974-0225.

 

Bob Nicks

Preisdent, Austin Firefighters Association 

 

 


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9-/13/2017

The first of 4 AFA membership CBA education sessions begin this morning at 10:00am. PLease review education session and online vote scedule below.

9/8/2017

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

Your AFA Bargaining Team was able to complete negotiations this morning and will be able to present a proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to the membership for your approval.

If the contract becomes approved through a ratification vote by the AFA membership, then the Austin City Council will decide whether to approve the agreement. Coucil approval will occur in late September. 

You can view the completed CBA now by clicking here and following the links.

Please click here to view video of Fire Department Management commitment to making changes to allowing transferability and to make changes to the practice of punishment for vehicle accidents. Although NOT a part of the CBA, this video was made by management in an attempt to satisfy membership concerns in these important areas.

The AFA Bargaining Team will be preparing an education page on our web site to help the members understand the proposed CBA before the ratification vote. Also, Bargaining Team members will be available, at the AFA Hall, next week to discuss the proposed CBA (see schedule below).

 

Here is the schedule for AFA Membership education on the CBA:

 

09/12/2017 - The CBA will be discussed at the Regular Membership Meeting at 1300

09/13/2017 - Two AFA Membership Education Sessions

  • 10:00am - 11:30am
  • 12:30pm- 2:00pm

09/14/2017 - Two AFA Membership Education Sessions

  • 10:00am - 11:30am
  • 12:30pm- 2:00pm

 

If you have questions before the educational sessions, please click here to pose them on the on-line AFA discussion board.

 

The following week, Tuesday September 19th (starting at 0800) through Thursday September 21st (ending at 1700) AFA will be conducting the online vote to ratify the proposed CBA.

 

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 

 


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09/03/2017 - update

John Stirling can be reached at (512) 417-3921 please disregard below phone number. 

 

09/03/2017

I eveyone is willing, we need 2 more volenteers to form a demo team for tomorrow. Please contact Lt John Stirling directly at (512) 417-3821 if you are interested.

Report from Yesterday:

 

Chief,

 

Today we started our day as usual, transporting the team to Local 341 to begin work.  After HFD shift change at 0700, we had a surge in FFs coming by to seek disaster assistance.  We spent the entire morning processing claims and issuing relief funds.  The afternoon was spent doing mostly the same for myself.  FF Oakley took the IAFF Health Officer to pick up a batch of vaccines.  They transported the shipment to the Pearland Airport, where the vaccines were immediately flown out by helicopter to east Texas.

 

Also of note, FS Derek Zwernaman provided a huge boost to the effort by arranging for a helicopter to take medical supplies to flood affected areas.

 

We had another crew of volunteers come to the area to assist with demo of flood damaged residences.  Austin FF Hector Valdovino, FS Nick Ganci, Lt Kregg Philips, and retired FS Rusty Wilkins all volunteered their time to work today.  They completed work at a home in Victoria and then proceeded to NW Houston to work more.  Great work by those folks.  

 

09/02/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The AFA Firefighters who helped out our Brothers and sisters in Houston Yesterday did a fantastic job.

FF Adam Aguirre, FF Jake Bailey, FF Brady Glos, retired LT Ricky Moore (and family), LT Kregg Philips, LT Jamie Baxter, and Capt. Joe Ridgeway all volunteered on their day off to drive down to the area and work.    Click  here to see pictures!

Today, a team of three AFA members answered the last minute call to work in Houston today.

There is still much more work to be done and the Houston Firefighters have asked if we can stand up more teams for tomorrow and probably every day next week.

Lt John Stirling (along with FF Sacey Oakley) are stationed in Houston over the next week and will be coordinating the effort. Please call Lt. John Stirling directly at (512) 417-3821 for details and scheduling. 

One need that has been reproted to me is box fans. Please bring your old box fans with you if you help out in Houston or to the AFA Hall so we can deliever them. Many of the firefighter homes that require demo can be greatly assisted in drying out if we have more box fans.

Thank you to all AFA members for their overwhelming response.

 

Bob

 

 

09/01/2017 - Update

Well, what can  i say...they need people now to demo houses tomorrow. If you can help please call Lt John Stirling directly for assignment. John is stationed at the IAFF disaster center in Houston and he can provide you thei details. It sounds like they will need two teams, one to Houston and another to Victoria.

 

Bob

 

9/01/2107

We have received word that no volunteers will be needed for the Houston area tomorrow.

The influx of people due to Hurricane Harvey is less than what was expected. Due to this fact, volunteers for shelters in the Austin area are not needed at this time. 

We will continue to update you as soon as we have any new information.

We appreciate all of you who have volunteered and will let you know if any new needs arise.  

8/30/2017

The water delivery that was requested late last night was made. Three Austin Firefighters, Tim Bailey, Jim Richardson  and Mike Nascimbeni used two personal vehicles and one trailer to deliver 180 - 35 bottle cases to Houston Firefighter Union where the IAFF disaster team is stationed. 

No more help is needed at this time but thank you for the many folks, both active and retired, that volunteered to hot shot the water delivery late last night.

AFD has offered to send on duty FFs and equipment to Houston today to augment the water delivery effort. Again, I thank Chief Kerr and the Department for their continued support during this acute time of need.

If you wish to help in Houston once we have a better plan on the needs OR to can volunteer at a local shelter, please respond to this email.

 

Bob

 

 

8/29/2017 - UPDATE

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The IAFF disaster team has just contacted me and they are in desperate need of bottled water. Are there any AFA members that with a large truck and/or trailer that can meet up with me so we can get water delivered tonight or early tomorrow morning? Please contact me directly  at my cell - 512-217-3474

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association 

 

8/29/2017

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

Many Austin Firefighters have contacted the AFA asking if there is anything they can do to help out with the relief and recovery efforts in Houston and the surrounding areas. There are two areas where help may be needed so we would like to start a volunteer list now so we can be ready. Please respond to this email with your name and contact info if you wish to help.

 

1.       The IAFF launched a disaster recovery team today that will be based in Houston to help with firefighter disaster relief. Many firefighters in and around Houston have lost their homes to flooding. Over the next week, Austin Firefighters Lt. John Stirling and FF Stacy Oakley are driving the IAFF disaster team into Houston and the surrounding areas. Once they are in place they will report back to us if there is a need for additional personnel. If you are interested in helping please respond to this email.

Note of gratitude - I made a request to Chief Kerr for two AFD apparatus to be used by the IAFF disaster team during their relief efforts. Chief Kerr immediately went above and beyond obtaining two Ford Explorers and assisted with getting ABL pushed through on short notice for the two drivers.

Thank you Chief Kerr for your help!

Also, Chief Jansen, Chief Frick and Chief Cherry are appreciated for their efforts for making this happen with little notice when they already have so much going on locally.

 

2.       The Austin Red Cross is in need of volunteers to help run Austin Area shelters which are filling up quickly.  If you are interested in helping please respond to this email.

 

As the AFA becomes aware of more volunteer opportunities, we will let you know.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 

 


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Voting Results for Motion 17-6

Based on the results of the online voting - Motion 17-6 - Honorary Membership for Premal Amin has passed. 

On behalf of the Officers, Executive Board and all of the Brothers and Sisters of the Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975, we would like to officially welcome Premal Amin as an Honorary Member of Local 975. 

Thank you to all who voted.

Please click here to view results. 


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Voting Results for Motion 17-5

Based on the results from the online voting - Motion 17-5 - Collective Bargaining Term Clarification has passed.

Thank you to all who voted.

Please click here to view results. 


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8/5/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

There is NO truth to the rumor that if a certain number of ESD4 firefighters do not make it through the AFD Taining Acadamy that the ESD4 merger deal is shut down.

Bob


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7-29-2017 AFA Membership Update

 

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

I have heard there are concerns among some of the membership about the AFA support of ESD4 firefighter and ESD4 Local 4848 President Drew Garcia in his bid to challenge his disqualification from the ESD4 merger process.  Some of the concerns are:

-Why helping out a non-member?

-Will this support harm AFA membership issues, especially during bargaining?

I believe that the limited support we are pursuing for FF Garcia has helped AFA membership issues. The issues that surround the discharge of ESD4 FF Garcia are essentially the same issues that we have censured the Fire Chief for, over punishment and problems with due process. These problems have plagued the AFA membership for some time now (not the least of which is discipline for vehicle accidents) and are now receiving attention across a broad spectrum of the community. I have heads of community organizations and City Council members, Travis County Commissioners and others calling and asking how to help FF Garcia. During these conversations they are also learning about the importance of our issues and they are more supportive than ever. Many of these politicians and community organizers know FF Garcia personally. The community at large is driving the call to reinstate FF Garcia back into the process.

Also, the ESD merger template is in the AFA/COA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). One of the more important functions of the AFA Eboard is the protection of the CBA. The disqualification of a candidate falls under appendix C of the CBA, requiring an empanelment of the labor/management board. This was not done until after the decision was made; it was a unilateral decision by Command Staff, and therefore was a CBA violation.  The ESD Merger Template contemplates standards that must be met but also a fair process for those who participate. The promise of fair treatment is important, not only to the ESD4 merger but also for potential future mergers.

The main evidence against FF Garcia can be easily explained if the investigators would have simply called FF Garcia and asked him to explain the inconsistencies, but they did not. Much like investigations against our own members, no exculpatory evidence was brought forward. As the investigated was nearing its end, Command Staff never reached out to Drew for explanation to attempt to clear up inconsistencies in their findings. For instance, during ESD4 merger workgroup sessions, FF Garcia advocated that AFD had access to all of the ESD4 personnel files so they could complete a picture of ESD4 firefighters. If he was looking to hide the event, why would FF Garcia advocate for AFD to look into his personnel file?

The Command Staff is doubling down on their personal attacks against FF Garcia. The latest is that he denied 5 times the event before admitting to it As soon as FF Garcia understood what the investigators were inquiring about, he admitted to the event and explained his confusion in answering the question.

To be fair, in the end only FF Garcia knows for certain if he intentionally misrepresented himself or did not understand the question correctly when he answered. Having  worked with FF Garcia on this project for over a year, I believe him when he says that his mistake was unintentional.

History of the ESD Merger Template and the ESD4 Merger

  • The entire ESD Merger Template was a product of four AFA sub-committees driven by Membership surveys.
  • These sub-committees combined their work product and formed a final ESD merger template that was placed before the membership twice for a full membership vote.
  • The ESD Merger Template contemplated standards that must be met but also a fair process for those who participate.
  • In 2015, at the direction of the AFA membership vote, the AFA Bargaining Team successfully placed the ESD Merger Template into the current CBA
  • Last year the AFA Membership voted to have AFA lobby for the ESD4 merger.
  • Local 975 (AFA) and Local 4848 worked side by side with AFD management and ESD Board members for close to a year to work out the details of the merger

 

In terms of bargaining, the first two bargaining sessions were rough but the last two have been very civil and productive. The best way to understand what is going on in bargaining is to watch the videos and judge for yourself. You do have permission to watch the videos, vote online and surf the www.local975.org website while on duty, as long as this does not take away from your regular duties. I would recommend doing this as a crew so you can discuss among yourselves and provide your feedback to bargaining team members.

I hope this eases any concerns you might have had. Please contact me directly if you have further questions or would like me to stop by for a station visit.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 


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Firefighter Cancer Screening Dog Trial

Firefighter Cancer Screening Dog Trial

AFA Members

After additional vetting and reading the totality of Cancer Screening Dog Trail we wanted to update our Disclaimer so that members are able to make informed decisions regarding this test.

 

Local 975 Disclaimer: 

The cancer screening dog trial is not FDA approved and is still experimental.   Members who choose to participate must understand that there are false positives, as well as false negatives ("missed subjects").  AFA Local 975 is not offering medical advice and is merely attempting to facilitate ordering and testing for our members who wish to participate.  There are several scientific studies conducted on the accuracy of cancer detection tests conducted by cancer sniffing dogs, and results vary.  If you Google "cancer sniffing dog studies" you can find a variety of sources to review so you can draw your own conclusions on whether this test is right for you.   In any case, the member should treat this screening as supplemental. 

 

AFA Local 975 will be working with Cancerdogs in the upcoming months.  CancerDogs is a cancer screening service that uses specially trained dogs to detect the odor of all types of cancer preset in a person's exhaled breath.  They have developed an inexpensive and non-invasive breath sample kit that collects breath odor with a simple surgical mask that is worn for 10 minutes and sent to their lab.  

Please visit our information page to read more about the service and process.  If you wish to participate, follow the simple steps listed to sign up and pay for your kit.  We will follow up with you after we order the kits.  Thanks.

Click here to go to the information/Signup Page: https://your975.org/cancer-screening-trial/ 

Mike Leone

AFA Local 975

Firefighter Cancer Screening Dog Trial


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2017 Schillterbahn Discount for AFA Members

02/23/2017

For Waterpark Admission Discounts follow the bullet points-

 Visit www.schlitterbahn.com/partnerdiscounts

  • Select the appropriate park's logo
  • Proceed to the section for those with an eTicket Code
  • First-Time Buyers - Follow the prompts. You will need to create an account with your email and a password.
  • Returning Guests - Follow the prompts.
  • ETicket Code: 2017000034
 


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Promo List Length Question

02/11/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

There have been many questions about whether the Fire Chief can set the promotional eligibility list length at two (2) years when the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is set to expire on October 1st 2017 IF the CBA is not renewed.

We have asked the AFA attorneys to research this question so we can provide you the answer that best satisfies the intent of the CBA.

After this legal review, it is the AFA's position that the fire chief can set the recently released promotional

eligibility list length at 24 months, but the list length will be modified if the CBA expires.

I think it is important to note that we do not believe the CBA will expire and the AFA anticipates a renewal.  

The Details:

Our attorneys advise us that the fire chief has the ability to set the promotional eligibility list length from 12 to 24 months.  If the CBA is renewed (therefore does NOT expire), the length of the list will remain as specified in the posting for promotional examination.

If the CBA is NOT renewed and therefore expires, then the length of the eligibility list is modified as follows:

  • No promotional list shall extend longer than six (6) months after the expiration of the Agreement.

However, the expiration of the CBA can be extended by mutual written agreement, see below:

  • If the parties are engaged in negotiations for a successor Agreement at the time this Agreement expires, the Association's and the City's negotiating teams shall have the authority to extend this Agreement in thirty (30) calendar day increments by mutual written agreement, during any period of good faith negotiations after such termination date, not to exceed a total of six (6) months

So, if the CBA is not renewed and therefore expires, the promotional eligibility list will be modified from 24 months to as little as 11 months or as many as 17 months, depending on if there are agreed extensions and the number of these extensions. If during the extention period the AFA Bargaining team reaches an agreement, then the list stays at 24 months.

I hope this explanation helps. Please contact me directly if you have further questions.


Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association


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Bargaining Rumor

02-10-2017

A rumor has come to my attention which I will dispel. The AFA did NOT turn down a 2% offer from the City to sign a CBA extension. No offer was made to AFA and no offer turned down.

I believe that the City has changed their position and now is planning on full scale bargaining, but the AFA has not been formally notified of this development. I have learned about this only by talking to APA and ATCEMS Employee Associations.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly to discuss.

 

Bob Nicks

 

 


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4/9/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

After discussions with the Assistant City Manager, Mayor Adler and Councilmember Delia Garza, I find the announcement made at the last BC meeting (4/4/2017) of impending station closures or reductions to 4-person staffing to be unlikely. There exists a 4th option that was not mentioned at the BC meeting that does NOT close fire stations or reduce staffing. This 4th option is to increase the AFD budget by 3.5 million dollars, it has the support of the City Managers Office (money already identified) and therefore this option is likely to be adopted by City Council. 

This announcement of staffing cuts and station closures is very similar to statements made at a BC meeting in February, which I researched and disputed (please see AFA membership email below dated 02/08/2017).

At the last BC meeting it was announced that Chief Kerr had been told by the City Manager's Office/COA Budget Office that she would either have to shut down fire stations or reduce 4 person staffing to make up for the 3.5 million dollars that AFD is projected to be "over budget" for 2017. It was relayed at this BC meeting that this choice of all bad choices would need to be made within a couple of weeks.

Here are the 3 bad options that were laid out at the BC Meeting in no particular order:

  • Return to pre-SAFER Grant staffing levels (2-person staffing on rescues and dry ladders)
  • Regress to 3-person staffing on certain central core fire units
  • Close either station 9 or 33

However there is a 4th and much more favorable option which has the support of the City Manager's Office, Mayor Adler and Councilmember Garza. The 4th option is to increase the AFD 2017 budget by 3.5 million dollars to cover the current OT shortfall. According to the ACM, this will be the recommendation of the City Manager's Office and the money has already been identified.

It is the purview of City Council to select any of the four options (or any others which they desire to approve) but given that the money for the budget adjustment has been identified and the City Manager's Office has said they will recommend the budget adjustment to City Council, I find this outcome to be likely.

The three bad options are scenarios that the ACM is having Chief Kerr cost out and they MAY be discussed at the Council Meeting where the 3.5 Million AFD budget adjustment will be discussed. It is possible that the budget adjustment will be approved without discussion.

You can rest assured that AFA has already begun lobbying Council to make sure they understand how unacceptable the 3 bad options would be to firefighter and citizen safety.

I would like to send Kudos to Mayor Adler and Councilmember Delia Garza for their assistance on sorting this issue out.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 


 

02/08/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

It was relayed to me today by several AFA VP's that there are questions and concerns about the 2017 Council Budget Workshop where Chief Kerr presented this morning. Specifically 4-person staffing and fire station 9 seem to be the biggest areas of concern.

I do NOT think there is anything to be overly concerned about at this point.

The City Council is starting the budget process earlier than past years to ask deeper questions in order to get a better understanding of how all the different departments operate. Naturally, there will be more detailed questions asked. Also, many of the more probing questions came from the two new council-members, again, this is to be expected.

If you go to the link below entitled " AFD Budget Presentation", then go to the second to the last page, you will see a series of questions that the City Manager provided AFD last Friday to be addressed before Council. I believe this question set may have raised some concern among the Command Staff.

I attended the presentation this morning but had to leave at 10:50 to head to the Capitol so I have not yet seen the last hour of the presentation. Station 9 was not discussed during the part I attended and was not included in the City Manger question set sent to Chief Kerr. See link below to view the entire video.

AFA will review the presentation video, identify any concerns raised by City Council and meet with each Council-member individually to discuss. I am certain this follow up will help to satisfy their questions.

If there are is anything to worry about after these meetings, we will then absolutely let you know.

 

AFD Budget Presentation

Video to entire 2017 AFD budget presentation

Video from AFD Budget Workshop Presentation

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association


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Mandatory AT Letter

01/09/2017

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

First and foremost, let me clear up a misconception: the AFA has NOT supported or endorsed the mandatory Kelly day sign up procedure (scheduled to begin 3/7/17). AFA was aware that mandatory Kelly day sign up was being considered by management, but the AFA was not a part of the final decisions that led to the Special Order below. The AFA and management do share the common goal of ensuring that four (4) person staffing is maintained and we acknowledge that developing a mandatory AT system that is agreeable to everyone is difficult.

I believe that management is open to changes to the mandatory AT procedure if the suggestions meet their goals of filling seats and the suggested changes are not too complicated to implement and utilize. Since the new mandatory AT procedure does not begin until March, there is enough time to work toward this if the membership wishes to do so.

Click here to see Special Order on Kelly Day and Mandatory Add Time Procedure 

Going forward, the AFA will be involved in two (2) major ways:

  • Continue to vet this new policy to ensure it comports with the CBA and all applicable laws. There are a couple of CBA issues that are still being reviewed and discussed.
  • Engage our membership via direct interaction, discussion boards, and surveys to attempt to discover if there is a method of requiring mandatory AT that is more universally acceptable. This could mean anything from suggesting tweaks to the current management procedure to recommending an entirely different system.
  • AFA will be forming a committee to further explore possible mandatory AT procedures and make recommendations. Please respond to this email if you are interested in participating on the AFA Mandatory AT Committee.

Click here for the AFA on-line discussion board. This may be the best place to ask questions and provide your feedback.

AFA's initial legal analysis shows that the Fire Chief can compel firefighters to sign up for AT on their Kelly Days as long as they follow applicable laws, which they are proposing to do. There are some outstanding CBA issues (Kelly Day Trades, Call Back and others) that we are working through with management and hopefully this will result in a system that is more tolerable for all.

Information posted to the discussion board explaining why a Kelly Day is not a paid day off

In addition to taking the survey and participating in the on-line discussion board, please consider attending the upcoming membership meeting (this Tuesday at 1300 @ AFA Hall) where an extended conversation on mandatory AT will occur. Results from the first AFA survey can be found below.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 


 

 

 

Information from the first Mandatory Membership Survey

In November, the AFA survey asked a variety of questions pertaining to potential elements of possible mandatory AT systems. There were 325 surveys completed with 160 excellent additional written responses lodged.

Although there were no strong trends found in the results, the written responses provided some direction by which the AFA put together a draft proposal for your scrutiny.

First here are some of the results from the survey:

Although this question produced somewhat mixed results, the many great additional membership comments which will be helpful in our discussions with management:

The results of the OT "opt out" question is at the link below. If accepted by management, the program would include an open enrollment period in early January. Anyone that "opts out" in January would not be able to sign up for OT for a one year period.

 

 

 

 


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Pension and Vehicle Discussion Board Links

12/18/2017

New Additions to Pension Discussion in Yellow Below

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

There have been many good questions and answers exchanged on the AFA Member-only Discussion Board for both the AFD excessive discipline for vehicle accidents and the emerging attacks on your pension. Click here to access both discussion boards.

I will leave these links toward the top of the AFA web page for easy future access. Below is the link to our webpage:

Poorly researched Statesman article. We will be visiting with this journalist to discuss the big picture of pension system as well as the strengths of our system:

Article from a friend of defined benefit systems which counters some of the recent attacks on Texas pension systems. This article discusses the recent attack on the Austin pension systems by the Arnold Foundation

Videos below from the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) Symposium on "Rethinking Texas Retirements":

If you do not have the time to watch all the video below, please read this June 2016 Report from the TPPF, here is the final recommendations from the report:

"Recommendation:The 85th Texas Legislature should restore local control of local retirement systems that are currently governed by state law. Policymakers should restore management and authority over these systems back to the community oftheir origin, so that stakeholders can implement necessary changes and ensure these systems' long-term viability and recovery." 


Here are a few recent articles on Texas pensions:

 

This article is powerful explanation of the exploitation of Public Pensions:


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Lawsuit filed today in Travis County

9/7/2016

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

As you may have already heard, a lawsuit was filed today in Travis County District Court against the City of Austin and the Austin Firefighters Association (see Goldwater Institute press release below). This lawsuit claims that the use of Association Business Leave (ABL), which is defined and agreed upon in our collective bargaining agreement, somehow violates the Texas Constitution. 

Click here to see lawsuit

Why the AFA is being targeted in this lawsuit is unknown. The use of ABL by the AFA is similar to the way many police, fire and employee associations utilize ABL across the State of Texas. In fact, the Austin Police Association (APA) and the Austin Travis County Emergency Medical Services Association (ATCEMSEA) both use ABL like the AFA does with very few differences.

Let me be clear, this lawsuit is a state-wide attack on all public sector employee groups, NOT just the AFA.  If this is to be our fate then so be it. We have not shied away from tough battles in the past and we are not ready to start now.

We started the approval process for IAFF  legal, financial and other assistance today. Given the state-wide implications of  this lawsuit, I have every confidence that the IAFF will have our backs and put the full weight of their resources to work for us.

That is all the information we have for you on this subject today. How the COA will respond to this challenge is unknown for now. We will keep you informed as this troubling situation unfolds and more information becomes available. 


Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association 

IAFF Local 975


Subject: Goldwater Institute & TPPF File Lawsuit to Halt Taxpayer-Funded Union Employees

Goldwater Institute & TPPF File Lawsuit to Halt Taxpayer-Funded Union Employees


AUSTIN - The Goldwater Institute and Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) filed a lawsuit in Travis County District Court today against the City of Austin and the Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975 challenging the City's labor agreement with Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975. The lawsuit, Pulliam, et. al. v. City of Austin, et. al., seeks to halt the practice of "release time" also known as "association business leave," and "union leave," which assigns city employees to work for their labor union at taxpayer expense. The agreement violates the Texas Constitution "gift clause" provision that prohibits government from giving taxpayer funds to private entities without a public purpose. 

Click here to see lawsuit

The use of ABL by the AFA is similar to the way many police, fire and employee associations utilize ABL across the State of Texas. In fact, within the City of Austin the Austin Police Association and the Austin Travis County Emergency Medical Services Association (ATCEMSEA) are use ABL like AFA does with very few differences. 


DIAL IN NOW FOR A LIVE MEDIA CALL with Q&A session on lawsuit

10:00 AM Central Time

Dial-In: 1 (877) 615-4337

Passcode: 7979 639#


"Under the Texas Constitution, the government is prohibited from spending public money for purely private purposes," said Jon Riches, Director of National Litigation and General Counsel for the Goldwater Institute. "With release time, Austin Taxpayers are required to foot the bill for the activities of a private union. This is an abuse of tax dollars and violates Texas law."

TPPF General Counsel and Director of the Center for the American Future Robert Henneke said, "Allowing full-time public employees on the government's payroll to work for a private union at taxpayer expense is even more egregious as the City of Austin's proposed budget would increase taxes on all residents. All taxpayer resources should be put into services for citizens not directed to the benefit of private entities."

 The Goldwater Institute originally discovered this illegal use of taxpayer money in 2011 and filed suit to stop the City of Phoenix from paying police officers their salary and benefits while they were working for the police union. Police officer release time was costing Phoenix taxpayers nearly $4 million each year. Since that initial discovery, the Goldwater Institute has found the practice is widespread across the country, including in federal government contracts. For example, while some military veterans wait an average of 115 days to get an initial appointment with their primary care provider, the Veterans Administration spends over $40 million a year on release time for VA employees. When release time contract provisions are added up across the country, taxpayers spend over a billion dollars each year to pay government workers to clock in at the union desk, not to do the government work they were hired to do.

The Goldwater Institute's successful lawsuit against the City of Phoenix has put an end to release time in Arizona. This is the Institute's first legal challenge to the practice outside of Arizona and its first lawsuit in Texas. 

Bills to ban taxpayer-funded release time have been introduced in Maine, Michigan, Nevada, and Washington State; and other lawsuits challenging the practice have been filed in Idaho, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.   


Read more about Pulliam, et. al. v. City of Austin, et. al here


###


About the Goldwater Institute

The Goldwater Institute drives results by working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and strengthen the freedom guaranteed to all Americans in the constitutions of the United States and all 50 states. With the blessing of its namesake, the Goldwater Institute opened in 1988. Its early years focused on defending liberty in Barry Goldwater's home state of Arizona. Today, the Goldwater Institute is a national leader for constitutionally limited government respected by the left and right for its adherence to principle and real world impact. No less a liberal icon than the New York Times calls the Goldwater Institute a "watchdog for conservative ideals" that plays an "outsize role" in American political life.

About the Texas Public Policy Foundation

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit free-market research institute based in Austin.


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response to Kerr letter

7/29/2016

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The Austin Firefighters Association (AFA) is in receipt of Chief Kerr's response to the censure vote that was taken this week.

Despite the increased media coverage, it remains the intent of the AFA is to have a positive and constructive dialogue with Chief Kerr and her administration to find solutions to the concerns we have raised. As we have said from the beginning, we are always willing to meet to discuss the issues.

Thank you for the calls and Emails of support. We will have more on this issue next week.

In the meantime, enjoy your weekend. And most of all, be safe out there

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association


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7/20/2016


AFA Membership Educational Piece for Chief Kerr Censure


Brother and Sister Firefighters,

I am asking that you approve the 2016 proposed censure of Austin Fire Chief Rhonda Mae Kerr.  Voting to approve the censure will help the AFA protect the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and return the firefighter's due process rights, including ending excessive punishment by the Fire Chief as a method to avoid the appeals process. Ultimately, what happens with the censure is up to you, please carefully read the provided education materials on the censure, discuss among yourselves, and online, and vote. The greater the turnout to vote on this issue, the greater a mandate for us to go forward strongly with this censure. Your response determines how we go forward, how public we are with the censure, who we send it to. Please stay involved and let us know your will.

Link to Chief Kerr Censure Discussion Board Active Now

Link to Chief Kerr Censure Online Vote Starts Tuesday July 26th @0800 thru Thursday July 28th ending @ 1700

The 2016 censure contains both legacy items from the 2014 censure plus four new and current issues. We believe Chief Kerr is not using fair judgment when applying civil service law; is violating the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA); is not in concert with other progressive departments regarding health and discipline (AFD is out of step with agreements made with nine other fire departments of the Wellness Fitness Initiative*); and is, in general, not using fair judgment in supporting the rights and working conditions of firefighters.  The IAFF legal team has vetted this censure and agrees the evidence for our claims is solid. We will provide the evidence supporting the newest censure items.

*The Wellness Fitness Initiative (Austin, Calgary, Charlotte; Fairfax Co,  FDNY, Indianapolis, Los Angeles Co,  MetroDade FL, Phoenix, Seattle) unanimously agreed to the following statement, with Chief Kerr in attendance: "Identification of drug misuse, either through reasonable suspicion or random testing, should result in referral for treatment and help. These are treatable disabilities.(see side 21)"  As you're aware, Chief Kerr continues to invoke a zero tolerance policy. Nationally, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is very much on the rise within the firefighter population, which may lead to alcohol, substance abuse and/or suicide. This is not included as a censure item this time due to logistical and evidential issues.

What is a Censure? A censure is a formal and severe disapproval of specific actions by the Fire Chief. Essentially, it is a reprimand, aimed at reformation of the person and prevention of further offending acts. When a censure is submitted to the IAFF for adoption, the IAFF legal Department researches each item of the proposed censure for accuracy. The IAFF will not allow an item to remain in the censure unless there is sufficient evidence to justify each claim. The 2016 Rhonda Mae Kerr censure before you has already been researched and approved by the IAFF to move forward to the 2016 IAFF National Convention for approval, pending the approval of the membership.

New Censure Item 1:

WHEREAS, Chief Kerr is in the process of
adopting a "transferability" policy that would
prohibit fire fighters from applying for or remaining
in a staff position that they are capable of performing
if the fire fighter is not "operations qualified" by the
department wellness center. This could force fire
fighters to end their careers even if they can meet the
specific job qualifications of an open staff position.


Understand that this will have the effect of ending your career if you suffer an IOJ (or off-the-job injury) from which you cannot return to Operations. Firefighting is physically demanding so the potential for serious injuries is high. To perform at their highest level firefighters need to know that the Fire Chief and the leadership of this organization have a better plan for them than termination if they suffer a serious injury. Here was a letter from AFA to Chief Kerr on the issue of "transferability".

Our collective bargaining agreement is clear:

"all economic benefits, privileges, and working conditions which are properly and lawfully in effect in the Austin Fire Department as to matters subject to mandatory bargaining under Local Government Code Chapter 174, and enjoyed by the Fire Fighters of the bargaining unit as of the effective date of this Agreement, but which are not included in this Agreement, shall remain unchanged for the duration of this Agreement." Article 27 Maintenance of Standards, 2015 CBA

Working conditions are not within the authority of the Fire Chief to change unilaterally; she must negotiate these changes. This right was given to firefighters by the citizens of Austin when they voted to give Austin Firefighters the right to collectively bargain in 2004. Collective bargaining means nothing if we do not defend it.

Regarding this censure item, the hard, vetted evidence to the IAFF will be presented to you in the follow-up email Friday.

 

New Censure Item 2:

WHEREAS, when alleged improprieties by the
Professional Standards Office (PSO) were brought to
the attention of the Fire Chief, including intimidation
of a union officer, Chief Kerr's administration
responded by refusing the union's requests for certain
due process protections that had been granted during
past investigations.


After a Local 975 VP reported to me potential improprieties by the PSO and I reported this information to the AFD Chief of Staff, a threatening letter was sent to the Local 975 VP by the office of the PSO.   The Executive Staff and the PSO then changed investigatory practices that had been granted during past investigations and became uncooperative with Local 975.

Regarding this censure item, the hard, vetted evidence sent to the IAFF will be presented to you in the follow-up email Friday.


New Censure Item 3:

WHEREAS, Chief Kerr has used the threat of
indefinite suspension to coerce fire fighters into
waiving their appeal rights and accepting harsh
suspensions, thus undermining fire fighters' due
process rights under the Texas State civil service
Statute.


Chapter 143.052 of Civil Service Law states:

"The head of the fire or police department may suspend a fire fighter or police officer under the department head's supervision or jurisdiction for the violation of a civil service rule. The suspension may be for a reasonable period not to exceed 15 calendar days or for an indefinite period. An indefinite suspension is equivalent to dismissal from the department."

Before Chief Kerr's reign, most suspensions were of a reasonable period of 15 days or less and these suspensions came with the right of appeal. By masquerading nearly every firefighter mistake or misjudgment as a punishment commensurate with indefinite suspension, Chief Kerr is coercing our members to sign an agreement for higher punishments (16 to 90 days) with no right of appeal.

The purpose of the civil service law is to protect firefighters by acknowledging that even good firefighters can make a mistake and the punishment should not be excessive, 15 days or less. However, hearing examiners and civil service boards tend to give extremely wide deference to the disciplinary decisions of the fire chief; therefore, a strong statement from the membership revealing the true motive of the fire chief will be invaluable in protecting our civil service rights.

Regarding this censure item, the hard, vetted evidence sent to the IAFF will be presented to you in the follow-up email Friday.

Pro Tip: The Officers that attend the chain of command meeting are probably not briefed by management about firefighter protections under civil service law. If you are following the letter of civil service law, when you recommend a punishment greater than 15 days, this indicates that you believe that the infraction is so egregious that termination is justified. If you do not feel that the infraction reaches the level of termination, then your recommendation should be 15 days or less.

Only if termination is truly justified can the fire chief, if she is acting in good faith, be more benevolent and offer a 16 -90 day punishment and thus increase the punishment over the 15 day limit and deny the firefighters right to appeal . 


New Censure Item 4:

WHEREAS, Chief Kerr's administration has not
secured a timely solution to the important
membership issue of adequate fire station bathroom
facilities, which negatively affects our current fire
fighter population and may harm efforts to recruit
female fire fighters.

 

History of the AFD restroom project:

Phases I thru 4 were designed and funded before Chief Kerr's arrival. Phase V was funded in 2012 through a bond. Although the money is available, Phase V construction is not even out to bid yet.  Chief Kerr has also been unsuccessful in obtaining funding for phase VI.

Here is a message from the AFA Facilities Committee. This committee is made up of both concerned male and female Austin Firefighters:

"More than 1/3 of the stations identified as inadequate for equitable joint use still do not have bathrooms for both men and women firefighters. Chief Kerr has stated over the years that this project is a priority and that she would push to have it moved along-seventeen years and counting, it still is not finished. Chief Kerr began her tenure in early 2009, she has been the Chief of the department for seven of the seventeen year history of the bathroom renovation process. Voters approved a bond package in 2012 to build a fire station in Onion Creek and to retrofit 6 of the 12 remaining stations without women's locker rooms. In mid 2016, there still has been no dirt moved, no construction started on the projects approved by the voters in 2012. Estimated completion date to remedy only one half of the remaining inadequate facilities have been pushed back to the spring of 2018. Zero timeline even estimated for the second half, those most in need.   In her capacity as Fire Chief, Chief Kerr has failed to get equitable facilities for her firefighters' most basic needs. These phases started with great fanfare, but under Chief Kerr's leadership the project has limped along with little forward progress."

Regarding this censure item, the hard, vetted evidence sent to the IAFF will be presented to you in the follow-up email Friday.

 

What is the history of the 2014 Chief Kerr censure?

In June 2014, prior to the IAFF National Convention, the AFA assembled a censure of Austin Fire Chief Rhonda Mae Kerr.  Prior to the IAFF vote, the AFA Membership was educated on the issues (Click here to see 2014 Kerr Censure Education Page) and an online vote was conducted. The result: 85% of the membership voted to approve the Kerr censure (Click here to see 2014 Kerr censure vote results). The AFA took the censure forward to the 2014 IAFF Convention seeking national approval. Out of the five Fire Chief censures submitted for approval, only Chief Kerr's censure was approved and it was approved unanimously by the entire convention body.  The other four Fire Chief censures were pulled before the vote, meaning the fire chief and the local were able to reach some form of agreement before the vote. Rhonda Mae Kerr was the only fire chief censured nationally at the last IAFF convention.

If approved by the AFA membership and adopted by the IAFF, how will the censure help us?

This depends on how we choose to use it once adopted.  We mean for this new censure to be more publicly discussed and the pressure continually maintained until our reasonable requests are satisfied, hopefully at the bargaining table. In 2014, the aim of the censure was to demonstrate that we will not sit idly by while our labor agreement is trounced and harm is done to our fire department and working conditions, but it was a measured effort that ended short of public criticism.  We had hoped that this formal admonishment would give Kerr pause and back her off from her anti-firefighter rhetoric and actions; sadly, it did not.

As is stated earlier, ultimately, what happens with the censure is up to you, the greater the turnout to vote on this issue, the greater a mandate for us to go forward strongly with this censure. Your response determines how we go forward, how public we are with the censure, who we send it to.


Sincerely,


Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

IAFF Local 975






 


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AFA Wildfire Resolution

Here is information on the proposed AFA wildfire resolution to be presented for adoption at the 2016 IAFF National Convention.

AFA is seeking IAFF Locals that may be interested in co-sponsoring this proposed wildfire resolution. We are willing to meeting with your Local to discuss if this would be helpful.

Click here to see proposed AFA Wildfire Resolution

 

Current Sponsors

Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975   

Montana State Council of Professional Firefighters, A0025

Round Rock Firefighters Association, Local 3082

San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association, Local 624

Cal Fire Local 2881

South Carolina Professional Firefighters Association Local A0039

Florida State Fire Service Association, Local S0020

Oklahoma City Firefighters, Local 157

Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma, A0035

Alberta Fire Fighters Association C0003

Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts A0020

Houston Professional Firefighters Association Local 341

Travis County ESD 4 Local 4848

Washington State Council of Firefighters A0045

Southern Federation of Professional Firefighters voted to recommend adoption

 

Please contact Bob Nicks at bob_nicks@yahoo.com or Randy Denzer at randy_denzer@yahoo.com (cell: (512) 825-0731) for more information or if you would like to add your name to the sponsor list.


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5/9/2016

Brother and Sister Firefighters,


A request of the AFA Membership: If you live in or around the neighborhoods of TRAVIS COUNTRY, GOODNIGHT RANCH, MOORES CROSSING OR CANYON CREEK - Please respond to this email with your preferred contact information. We need inside information on neighborhood leaders, associations, clubs and the like to help AFA with this project.


Update on Fire Station Project: We have achieved important progress on one of our major AFA projects: Building new AFD fire stations and reducing response times.

As you may remember, the response time reduction project is the newest AFA project.

For a good overview of the issues and the solutions contained within the proposed resolution, please watch the March 4th Public Safety Commission AFA/AFD presentation: https://vimeo.com/159644217 (audio poor at beginning but quickly gets better)

 Click here for presentation PowerPoint contained in the presentation video.

On March 24th the Austin City Council adopted a response time resolution (click here to see). This resolution directs the City Manager to, each budget year, present a plan to City Council to fund and build the top 5 priority fire stations. The resolution also stipulates the AFD and AFA, will each year update this list of priority fire stations. The presentation will occur each budget year in open sessions so the AFA and affected neighborhood groups can comment.

CM Delia Garza and the AFA worked very closely on this resolution.  In essence, this resolution will stop the practice of the City Manager and the COA Budget Office blocking from Council important information regarding critical response time deficiencies and fire station needs.

Please go to the AFA Community resource page www.austinsafetyfirst.org to find  more information on the project.

Next Steps: Among other things, the adopted resolution directs the City Manager to:

"The City Manager is directed to develop a comprehensive plan for consideration during the FY 2016-17 budget process with proposed funding mechanisms and timelines for building fire stations in five areas of immediate need identified by the Austin Fire Association and the Austin Fire Department, which include the Travis Country area, the Loop 360 area, the Goodnight Ranch area, the Moore's Crossing area, and the Canyon Creek area."

In June CM Ott will present his plan to build more fire stations. Until then, AFA is reaching out to committee leaders, especially in the 5 critical response time areas, to provide them with the right information and resources so they can contact CM Ott and Council and express how urgently they need these fire stations. This community outpour will help to ensure that Ott takes the project seriously.

Please let me know if you would like to help on this important membership initiative by responding to this email.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association 

 

PS - Links to media stories and other info related to the AFA Fire Stations Project:


2/24/2016

http://kxan.com/2016/03/24/austin-fire-department-wants-5-new-stations/



KEYE News Story


http://keyetv.com/news/local/life-or-death-austin-fire-response-times-differ-dramatically-across-the-city

 

Money Mag growth

http://money.cnn.com/2015/05/27/news/economy/us-fastest-growing-cities-texas/


http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mlj45hfdf/1-austin-texas/

forbes - econ growth rate


https://www.texastribune.org/2015/05/21/interactive-texas-population-growth-2010-2014/


No matter how you slice it, Austin set for huge population growth, report says

http://www.bizjournals.com/austin/news/2015/01/26/no-matter-how-you-slice-it-austin-set-for-huge.html

Even under the most pessimistic projections - if some sort of plague and economic slump were to take hold in the region - the Austin area's population will still grow by more than 30 percent over the next 15 years, a report from the Urban Institute shows.




 


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Brother and Sister Firefighters,

911 responder health care benefits are in serious trouble. By the end of next week, Congress must reauthorize and extend the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 or those sickened by Ground Zero toxins will stop getting the health care and compensation they need and deserve. 

Jon Stewart has come out of retirement and has done solid work shaming Americans worst responders, the US Congress, into doing the right thing and supporting the reauthorization of the 911 Zadroga Act. 

These first responders need and deserve our support. Here is what you can do to help, it's as simple as going to the link below and either calling or emailing a Representative or Senator.

 

http://www.renew911health.org/take-action/take-action-contact-your-members-of-congress/?xrs=synd_facebook_120715_tds_38

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association 


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AFA formal request to ATCEMS

Click on the image below to view entire Letter from AFA to ATCEMS as a formal request to begin discussions regarding consolidation.


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Click on grey question mark and follow simple instructions to get your forgotten username and password sent to you within 3 minutes (times many vary).


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