March 28, 2022 – Retirement Party for Chief Frank Alvarez on April 4th from 1PM to 5 PM at Lustre Pearl South Austin – 10400 Menchaca Road – Austin, Texas – 78748.

February 15, 2022 – AFA files THC grievance after response from Chief Baker

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

When random drug testing was placed in our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in 2009, the AFA made sure to include the following provision to ensure firefighters were protected when taking medications under a valid prescription:

Section 2.D, page 75 of the 2017 CBA

“A Fire Fighter will not be disciplined for the use of a controlled substance for which the Fire Fighter has a valid prescription, provided the employee is using the controlled substance in compliance with the prescription and Department policy, and is not impaired on duty.”

This language is clear and therefore leaves nothing up to interpretation. Yet, Chief Baker will not commit to following the CBA with regards to valid prescriptions. So after much effort on the AFA’s part to try to solve this seemingly simple problem through discussion, the AFA filed a grievance where we are asking Chief Baker to commit to following the clear language of the CBA.

Click here for AFA Grievance

Click here for Chief Baker Response  And by the way, the timeliness issue raised in Baker’s response is faulty. Please attend an upcoming Virtual Station Visit on Zoom for further explanation (every Wednesday at 10:30 AM and Thursday at 1:30 PM).

Below is the AFA’s response to Chief Baker which sends this issue to arbitration.

“02/14/2022

Chief Baker,

We are astounded by your response to this grievance. The grievance does not present a hypothetical or speculative concern. Several Austin fire fighters have confided in me that they are declining to follow their doctors’ medical advice because they are afraid that you will discipline them for doing so. The ability for Austin fire fighters to address their mental and physical health needs, by following treatment plans developed in conjunction with their medical professionals, without fear of being disciplined by the Department is an issue of utmost importance to the Association.

The AFA is only asking you to abide by the plain language of the CBA, and only after you announced that you may not follow the Contract’s language in regards to prescription THC. If you cannot provide members who suffer from PTSD the comfort they need to follow their doctors’ medical advice, by simply saying that you will follow the plain language of the Contract, what does this signal about the labor/management relationship as we head into bargaining?

Apparently, both labor and management will have much work ahead of us in order to achieve an agreement at the bargaining table.

The AFA requests that this grievance be submitted for arbitration.”

We will persist!

Please talk to your chain of command and ask them to advocate up the chain for Chief Baker to abide by the CBA and allow firefighters to address their mental and physical health needs, by following treatment plans developed in conjunction with their medical professionals that include legal medical THC, without fear of being disciplined by the Department.

IF you have any questions, please respond to this email.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

February 9, 2022 – Update on Quincey, son of AFD Johnny Mendez

All,

I want to thank you all for continuing to support Johnny Mendez. You have provided countless meals, replaced a broken window, replaced a water heater, and created a Christmas that his boys will not forget.
See the update and request for additional help below. The new year brings new deductibles. If you have already donated, please do not feel obligated to donate again.

Tim Vandermeer

 

Hello,

I would like to take a moment to say thank you for all the support you have giving to Quincey and our family! In August of 2021, our world changed in a devastating way. CANCER. Our 10-year-old son had been having issues with walking for over a year prior to this. We had him looked at by every specialist and even did physical therapy. Nothing seemed to work. They would only look at the leg and not higher up. They all just kept thinking it was muscle. One morning he woke up struggling with breathing and in a lot of pain. We took him to the doctor, and he wanted to get some scans immediately. That was Friday the 6th. Saturday morning at 8 am we were called and told to go straight to the Dell Children Hospital. We made it there in what seems to have been 30 minutes. There we met the Oncologist. That word says it all. She listened to him and decided that she wanted to do a full scan.

This is when we finally got all the details and explanations and the answers we have been looking for. The images were displayed on the screen so we can see everything. She proceeded to tell us that children do not get lung cancer. He had 6 tumors, that we could see at that time, all over the lungs. There must be a culprit that is causing it all so that is why she scanned more in depth and all over. The bad boy was discovered. Growing there in his pelvic bone.

We had done our research prior to the results on Quincey’s symptoms and the one thing that we came up with was Ewing Sarcoma. When I asked the oncologist, she asked me where I heard of that, I told her. She confirmed that is what he has. Metastatic (spread) Ewing Sarcoma (cancer of bone) There is only 200 cases per year reported in the United States. This is rare childhood cancer that is still under research. No known cause yet.

Our poor baby had been suffering for so long in pain and no one would listen. Finally, someone heard him.

Quincey was immediately admitted to the hospital and a plan was put in place. Surgery for a porta Cath was first then chemo regiment was started. The game plan was attacking this thing full force and very aggressively. Fast forward to October, and we get another scan of the chest. There was only one tumor left. The other 5 are GONE! Cancer is responding to the treatment. So that left us with the one in his bone and one left in his left lung. Now we start talking about surgery for the bone. We opted to do surgery, so we did not have to do radiation. Surgery went very well. They were able to remove about a 3-and-a-half-inch piece of bone along with the tumor itself and replaced it with a biological mesh. Fast forward again to January. Quincey is now able to walk without a walker or crutches and has healed very nicely. We had another scan done 2 weeks ago to see where we are at now. The LAST tumor in his lung went from measuring 7 mm to 4 mm. This child is so strong and is fighting like hell. But we are only halfway there.

New year means new deductibles and copays, etc. With us being a one income family and life outside of cancer does not stop, bills are creeping up on us again. This is where two strong hearted and minded adults must become vulnerable and ask for help. There is still a long way to go to get to the end. Quincey has 9 more rounds of chemo and physical therapy. That is about 4-5 months. There will still be hospital stays and clinic infusions weekly.

Here it goes. Please, if possible could help in any way it would be greatly appreciated. Our family has grown closer together since the start of this journey. If there is anything we could do in return let us know.

Venmo- @Jennifer-Mendez120, Venmo- @Johnny-Mendez-71

January 20, 2022 – Results of Online Vote – Motion 22-1:  Special dues assessment for Active AFA Members

Motion 22-1: Motion to approve a special dues assessment for active AFA members has passed.

Please click on the link below to view the results:

https://1drv.ms/b/s!AkVM9bd8MRUThBDIH7jFVP1FZrS7?e=0Rzit4

THANK YOU TO THOSE THAT TOOK THE TIME TO VOTE.

January 17, 2022 – Online vote for Motion 22-1: Motion to approve an active AFA membership dues assessment starts January 18, 2022 at 8 AM and ends on January 20, 2022 at 5 PM.

Motion 22-1: Motion to approve an active AFA member dues assessment, with the following conditions:

  • The dues assessment amount of S10.90 additional per pay period for up to 10 pay periods, likely starting on February 18, 2022.
  • The additional dues assessment will be collected by the AFA, but only spent if binding arbitration costs exceed estimated costs present in the AFA FY22 budget.
  • The dollar amounts the AFA has budgeted for negotiations & binding arbitration is a strategic number and therefore confidential.
  • The elected AFA trustees will be made aware of the confidential binding arbitration budgeted number and the AFA Trustees will review the binding arbitration expenditures, determine if the cost of binding arbitration exceeds the AFA estimate of the cost for binding arbitration, and then report this to the membership.
  • After the conclusion of negotiations and binding arbitration, all expenditures will be released to the membership.
  • All additional dues assessment amounts not spent, will be returned to the AFA membership by way of reduced AFA dues assessment in the future, as soon as possible and within 2022.

Motion Maker: AFA Executive Board

Vote is only for Active Members (does not include retirees or probationary firefighters).

 

January 10, 2022 – Chief Denzer Retirement Party

Please join Chief Denzer in celebrating his retirement from 23 years of dedicated service with the Austin Fire Department on February 1st from 12:30-17:00.

The festivities will take place at Prohibition ATX, north Austin’s “cocktail centric speakeasy” which is located at 9112 Anderson Mill Rd., Austin, Texas 78729.  Come by and share your memories and a toast to send him off in style!

A memory book is being put together for Chief, so if you have any photos and/or stories that you would like to be included, please email them to [email protected] or bring them to the party.

We look forward to seeing you there!!

January 6, 2022 – Need Your Help on This One

New Benefit of Parental and Maternity Leave for Austin Firefighters, Police and EMS.

What we need from you?

  • As a citizen, contact the City Manager and tell him you support Maternity and Parental Leave for ALL Public Safety Departments. Spencer Cronk’s # is (512) 974-2200
  • Ask your friends and family to do the same
  • Share the AFA Facebook Post on Maternity and Parental Leave. www.facebook.com/AustinFirefightersAssociation

What are the details of these new benefits?
The Austin Firefighters Association (AFA) is assisting the mother-friendly workgroup in obtaining Maternity and Family or Parental Leave for ALL public safety employees. The City Council has been very supportive and unanimously passed a resolution on December 9th directing City Manager Cronk to deliver a plan within 30 days to implement both types of leave.

The City Council was very clear with the City Manager that these types of leave should NOT be a bargaining issue and should occur outside the labor agreement, and the AFA could not agree more.  Click here for Council Resolution.

ALTHOUGH THE CITY COUNCIL UNANIMOUSLY SUPPORTED THE RESOLUTION, DUE TO A LIMITATION IN THE CITY CHARTER, ONLY THE CITY MANAGER CAN APPROVE THIS LEAVE PROGRAM. That being said, the City Manager has previously expressed that he intends to have us bargain for this benefit.
Here is what’s at stake:

  • Parental Leave: Currently granted to ALL City of Austin Employees (including our own AFD civilian counterparts) EXCEPT for Firefighters, Police Officers and EMS Medics. This type of leave provides up to 6 weeks of PAID LEAVE for City of Austin Employees for adoption, foster care placement or the birth of a child.
  • Maternity Leave: The proposed Maternity or Pregnancy Leave is for public safety workers to use when recovering from childbirth. This leave would allow these public safety workers the time needed to physically recover from childbirth and to return to the state of conditioning needed to perform at the highest physical level required for Firefighters, Police Officers and EMS Medics.

To help persuade the City Manager to come back with a plan outside the labor agreement, the AFA is leading an effort which includes:

  • A persuasion video that was created by the IAFF (click here for video), which features all three Austin Public Safety Labor Associations. This video is a “call to action”, asking citizens to call the City Manager and ask him to support both Parental and Maternity Leave.
  • A website with more information on the program: www.austinsafetyfirst.org
  • Firefighter (and maybe Police and EMS) phone bank. This is where we need your help! This can be as simple as you and your immediate family members calling the City Manager and asking him to support Parental and Maternity Leave for ALL Public Safety Departments.  We encourage each of you to call the City Manager and also to urge three family or friends to do the same.  These calls make a huge impact to demonstrate to the City Manager that this is an issue that is important to our membership and to our community.

The City manager has requested an extension from City Council beyond the 30 days specified in the December 9th resolution. This extension will likely be granted so we need to start the effort soon and sustain it until the date of the extension deadline.

What do we need from you?  Right now we are just sharing information about this effort and how you can help.  We will be in touch again very soon with suggested talking points that can be shared with family and friends as well as a timeline for getting your calls done.

Thank you for helping to make AFD a great place for families to work!

Bob Nicks

January 4, 2022 – AGENDA FOR THE REGULAR UNION MEETING Date: 01-11-2022

Call meeting to order at 1300 hrs.

Swearing in of new members

Reading and approval of the December 2021 General Membership meeting minutes

 

Agenda Items

  • Motions – (See Below) For all posted AFA announcements, please go to local975.org – then Member Area – then Members Homepage
  • EMS Merger Feasibility Study
  • Wildfire Battalion Assignment Pay Grievance Update
  • Material and Parental Leave Program Update
  • THC Legality with Prescription and AFD Drug Testing
  • Auto Aid Fire Ground Operating System

Reports

Political Action Committee Pension Committee Grievance Committee

E-Board Meeting Budget Report

-Any other reports

 

Motion(s):

Motion (22-1)-Motion to approve an active AFA member dues assessment, with the following conditions.

  • The dues assessment amount of $10.90 additional per pay period for up to 10 pay periods, likely starting on February 18th, 2022.
  • This dues assessment will be collected by the AFA, but only spent if binding arbitration costs exceed estimated costs present in the AFA FY22 budget.
  • The dollar amounts the AFA has budgeted for negotiations & binding arbitration is a strategic number and therefore confidential.
  • The elected AFA trustees will be made aware for the confidential binding arbitration budgeted number and the AFA Trustees will review the binding arbitration expenditures, determine if the cost of binding arbitration have or will exceed the AFA estimate of the cost for binding arbitration, and then report this to the membership.
  • After the conclusion of negotiations and binding arbitration, all expenditures will be released to the membership.
  • All additional dues assessment amounts not spent, will be returned to the AFA membership by way of reduced AFA dues assessment in the future, as soon as possible and within 2022

 

Motion Maker-AFA E Board

 

For more info on the AFA Dues Assessment Motion, click here.