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Austin Firefighters Association
 

December Gen Membership Agenda and Supporting Documents for Upcoming Votes

12/09/2016

 

Notice of proposed dues increase:

Local 975 will be voting from 12/20/16 to 12/22/16 on two competing motions to decide which budget to adopt for next year. One motion adopts a budget that keeps dues the same. The other motion would require a dues increase of $2 per pay period.

16-25 Motion to adopt proposed 2017 AFA Budget with no dues increase.
Motion Maker: Nicks
Second: Jones

16-26 Motion to adopt proposed 2017 AFA Budget with a $2 per pay period dues increase to enhance AFA core programs.
Motion Maker: Eichler
Second: Duffee

The motion that receives the majority vote AND has the highest number of votes between the two motions will prevail. If the budget motion that keeps the dues the same prevails, then no further action is required. If the motion with a dues increase prevails, then a vote is required by the AFA and IAFF Constitution and Bylaws as well as federal labor law.

To raise dues, a 30 day advance notice of the vote is required. This message is notice that Local 975 will be conducting a vote to increase dues IF the budget option that requires a dues increase receives the majority vote with a higher number of votes.

 

Dues increases must be voted on in person by secret ballot at a membership meeting. If necessary, the vote to increase dues will be held at the membership meeting on 1/10/17.

 

Key dates:

 

12/13/16: AFA Membership meeting. Decide on final motion wording that will be sent to on-line vote.

 

12/20/16: Voting begins on competing budget motions.

 

1/10/17: AFA membership meeting and secret ballot vote at Local 975 union hall to increase dues by $2 per pay period (if dues increase budget motion prevails).

 

 

 


12/07/2016

 

AFA Members

Please note that we will have our General Membership Meeting on Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at the AFA Union Hall at 1300. 

Voting on the following motions will be conducted 12/20 to 12/22

Click here to view December 2016 Membership Meeting Agenda

Click here to View the 2017 AFA Priorities (Motion 16-24)

Click here to view the 2017 Proposed Budget with NO Dues Increase (Motion 16-25)

Click here to view the 2017 Proposed Budget WITH Dues Increase (Motion 16-26)

 

Because Motion 16-26 requires a dues increase, we'll need to have another vote if it passes. This vote MUST be done by secret ballot in person. IAFF and Local 975 constitutions dictate 30 day written notice to the membership before any dues increase can be voted on.

Look for an email from AFA soon that will give notification and details of the dues increase vote. The dues increase vote will be cancelled if Motion 16-26 fails. This notification will come before the budget vote so that if the membership votes for a dues increase, we can put it into effect in a timely manner.


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2016 AFA Elections Vote RESULTS

11/23/2016

Last day to vote for your bargaining Team. Scroll down for vote link.

In other news:

"Austin's Fire Union is furious, saying the chief's notices are a betrayal that can more easily be solved with education and training. AFD said in late October that it is undertaking that retraining too, on top of the suspensions."This program by Chief Kerr demonstrates a disconnect from operational realities and is harming morale," wrote President Bob Nicks to his membership Tuesday on the AFA's website." 

Click here to see KXAN story from last night. Click here to visit the private member-only discuss board set up for this issue.

Bob Nicks, president of the Austin Firefighters Association, said he is also supportive of the extension -but that he'd like to negotiate terms."We want to work toward the mayor's suggestion of a one-year extension, but it depends on whathappens at the first day at the table," Nicks said, adding that he has asked to meet with city officials inJanuary but has yet to hear back. Click here to see story on bargaining.

 

11/21/2016

Bargaining Team vote is now active and will last through Wednesday, November 23rd, 5:00pm.

There are (7) candidates running and you may choose (5)

Click here to view the results for the AFA Bargaining Team Vote

 

11/17/2016

Click here to view the VOTE RESULTS.

Two Important Items:

  1. The on-line vote ends today at 5:00pm for all votes EXCEPT the bargaining team vote and,
  2. The bargaining vote will need to be stopped and conducted again next week, Monday through Wednesday. Please see message from the election committee Chair below:

Local 975 membership,

          When the Local 975 Operations Manager was setting up the online vote for the Collective Bargaining Committee an oversight left a candidate who had been nominated and accepted the nomination off of the ballot.  This was purely a clerical error. I will invalidate the collective bargaining portion of this election. Another online vote will be held for the Collective Bargaining Committee from 0800 Hrs. Monday November 21 to 1700 Hrs. Wednesday November 23. I have spoken to the chair of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee and he has agreed that this course of action is acceptable. The election for Vice Presidents and Trustees will continue as scheduled through 1700 Hrs. today.  If you have already cast you ballot for the Collective Bargaining Committee, I apologize for any inconvenience in having to vote again, but thank you for you participation.

Edward Hanna

Chair

IAFF Local 975 Election Committee Chair

________________________________________________________________

11/15/2016

Before you vote, please make sure you that you review all the discussion on the AFA member's only discussion board. 

Click here for a 1 minute video on how to request your user-name and password if you have forgotten them: https://vimeo.com/175753075 You will need your user-name and password to access the AFA members-only discussion board.

We have four (4) important online votes to be decided. The online votes will decide:

1.       The five (5) elected members of the AFA Bargaining Team (Active Members Only Can Vote)

2.       The four (4) elected members of the AFA open Eboard positions (Active and Retired Members Can Vote)

3.       The motion to agree to a one year extension to the CBA if the City proposal is adequate. (Active Members Only Can Vote)

4.       Open AFA Trustee Position (Active and Retired Memnbers Can Vote) Both Les McKay and Brad Landi wishes to remove their names from the vote but informed us too late. The AFA Constitution and Bylaws require that their names stay on the ballot and that the election will proceed.

Click here to view Discussion Page

Click here to view Education Page (The education page has detailed explanation regarding Motion and Vote)

PLEASE NOTE THERE ARE 4 TOTAL VOTES (SO PLEASE SCROLL DOWN ON VOTING PAGE)

CLICK HERE TO VOTE

Click here to view bios of the candidates listed above.

 


11/14/2016

Before you vote, please make sure you that you review all the discussion on the AFA member's only discussion board. 

Click here for a 1 minute video on how to request your user-name and password if you have forgotten them: https://vimeo.com/175753075 You will need your user-name and password to access the AFA members-only discussion board.

Here is an informative post from the AFA member-only discussion board that many members have been asking about:

 

"Responding to wilson1281,


Voting yes to the motion does not obligate AFA to accepting the cities proposal or to a 1 year extension.

The 2nd part of the motion begins with the word "IF". we agree to an extension if the city's offer is acceptable. if it is not acceptable then the city is obligated, under texas collective bargaining law, to negotiate for a minimum of 60 days.

So...a yes vote would sent the message to the mayor and interim city manager that we will work in good faith to achieve a one year extension...but the pay package must be adequate. if not, we launch into full blown bargaining."

Please educate yourselfs and vote starting tomorrow at 0800.


11/11/2016

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

We have three important online votes to be decided  next week. The online votes will decide:

1.       The five (5) elected members of the AFA Bargaining Team

2.       The four (4) elected members of the AFA open Eboard positions

3.       The motion to agree to a one year extension to the CBA if the City proposal is adequate.

 

Information on AFA Eboard Elections:

You will be voting for all four (4) open AFA Eboard positions. Please review the bios found at www.local975.org  for information from the candidates. Greg Pope and Mike Klepac do not have candidates running against them so they will be awarded the respective positions of AFA Secretary/Treasurer and AFA Trustee by Acclamation.

In the past, AFA Eboard Vice Presidents were elected by Battalion (sometimes referred to as District VPs). These district VPs were voted in only by the members of their respective district.

 Since the last AFA Eboard elections held in 2015, the AFA Constitution and Bylaws have been amended by a membership vote to elect our AFA VPs at large, meaning that every member votes for all of the VPs.

The amended AFA Constitution and Bylaws also stipulates that after the election is complete, the AFA Eboard will decide which "at large" elected VPs will represent each geographic area of the AFA membership.

Therefore, we have the following VP positions open for election this year that are currently held by the following AFA Officers:

Mike Duffee

Mark Harris

Scott Walters

Wade Crain

 

Information on AFA Bargaining Team Elections:

You will be voting for five (5) AFA Bargaining Team candidates. The remaining four members of the AFA Bargaining Team will be appointed by the president and ratified by the Eboard per the AFA Constitution and Bylaws.

 

Information on motion to bargain for a one year collective bargaining agreement extension:

Mayor Adler has requested the all three COA public safety agencies sign a one year extension to our individual labor agrees. The Mayor made the request to save money in the budget (500k is what they project will be saved) but more importantly, to wait until the next City Manager is in place.

Whether we decide as a membership to agree to Mayor Adler's request will be decided by online vote. The motion reads as follows:

Motion 16-23 Motion: Accept Mayor Adler's request to bargain for a one year extension to the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) if the compensation, benefits and working conditions proposal from the City of Austin are adequate.

 An affirmative vote on this membership motion will not hem the bargaining team into a one-year extension IF the proposal from the City is inadequate. However, at this point it is imperative that we have a seasoned bargaining team to decide how best to satisfy the will of the membership.

I ask you to please ask your questions about the motion to the online member-only discussion board. Most importantly, please review the discussion board posts frequently during the discussion and voting period BEFORE voting. I am certain you will make a more informed decision on this important vote if you follow this advice, not only on this vote but for all online votes.

 

Please go to www.local975.org for more information on the upcoming votes.

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association


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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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8-16-2016

Brother and Sister Firefighters,

 

Apparently we have their attention! After the Kerr censure vote was overwhelmingly ratified by the membership, we received an email from Chief Kerr disparaging the membership as "seriously misinformed" as if we were "duped" like mindless sheep. Then, yesterday we received a correspondence from CM Ott with flowery speech and tired platitudes. This opportunity to point out hypocrisy of the highest order is hard to overlook. However, we will take the high road. The record is clear and no amount of personal attacks and bureaucratic doublespeak will sway our resolve. We will continue to press these very important membership issues:

  • Chief Kerr has been ineffective in moving the AFD bathroom project toward completion. Between CM Ott and Chief Kerr there should be NO excuses for the delays; CM Ott can set the priorities for Public Workers. The money has been available since 2012 and no real progress has been made.
  • Due process elements were removed immediately after we informed Chief Kerr that we had received complaints about the PSO that needed to be investigated. We can only conclude that this is retaliation. Some of the due process elements that were removed were contractual. As such, a formal grievance was filed by AFA and just today we asked that this grievance be moved to arbitration.
  • The transferability issue is of great concern. I have heard some of the management talking points and they seem diametrically opposed. On one hand, they argue that the AFA is jumping the gun because no policy has come out. On the other hand, they argue that the policy has been like this for a long time. Why we are most concerned is because we asked Chief Kerr directly what she intends to do. Prior to the censure, she had no qualms about giving us her plans - Operations qualified or Civil Service Fit for Duty separation.

Our concerns are reasonable and very easy to solve. In fact, we reached out to Chief Kerr to attempt to solve these issues and pull the censure. In the end, Chief Kerr would not agree to something as elemental as agreeing to negotiate for transferability if any changes are to be made. She would not agree to mutually developed Chain of Command training that would commit to the spirit of civil service law and sound just cause principles. She would not agree to the contractual requirement of laying out the evidence in the presence of the firefighter at Chain of Command Meetings as required in the CBA

The responses we received after the censure represent the beginning of the end of an unsavory era in Labor/Management relations. Opportunities for new City Leadership are forthcoming. It is with great hope that the institutional anti-labor sentiment and an unprecedented volume of egregious contract violations will subside in the near future. We look forward to that brighter day where we can truly work together through DEEDS not WORDS.

Thank you for your many phone calls and emails of support.  If anyone or any station would like a deeper discussion regarding the concerns raised in the Kerr censure, please contact me directly.  I would be most happy to come to your station and visit with you.

 

Yours in solidarity,

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 


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Helping our OWN!

Brothers and Sisters,

As many of you have heard by now Cancer has touched two members of our family recently.  One of our brothers, FF Ryan Endicott (E8 C), has been diagnosed with brain cancer and another Brother of ours, Andrew Jackson's (36-C) wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer and has begun treatment just this past week at MD Anderson in Houston.  Though this would be a troubling time for anyone, The Jackson's and Endicott's have a great attitude and are ready to fight and beat this thing.  Though I cannot give specific updates, know that they are under the care of some amazing people and, as they say, are in good hands.  Many have asked how you can help and as their medical bills begin to pile up, several options have become available.  Below is an itemized list for both families which include donation pages where folks can go, not only to donate but also receive updates on their progress.

FF Ryan Endicott

donation page:

https://www.youcaring.com/ryan-endicott-595503

Lone Star F.O.O.L.S online store: 

-in the online store you will be able to sign up for a hands on and lecture weekend presented by Lone Star F.O.O.L.S. and benefiting Ryan and his family.  PLEASE PRINT AND POST THE FLYER IN YOUR STATIONS, AND PASS ON TO ANYONE YOU THINK MIGHT BE INTERESTED.

-also in the store you can purchase the Endicott benefit T-shirt, all money raised from t-shirt sales will be going to endicott and his family.

http://www.lonestarfools.com/store/

 

Drew and Cassie Jackson

Donation Page:

https://www.gofundme.com/2ebj5hag 

The Jacksons have asked if you are able to donate baby formula (Similac with iron (blue container/label) as with treatment, breast feeding had to be halted.  If you do not have a contact to pass on the formula to you can drop it off at Fire House 17 for Zach King and I will make sure it gets to them.

MD Anderson Cafe:

you can donate gift cards for the Jacksons at the Cafe to help provide meals while they are in Houston for treatment.  

https://www.giftrocket.com/gift-card/md-anderson-cafe-houston?gax=1

1: follow this ^ link

2: enter in Cassie's email- cdwhite_83@yahoo.com

 

Thanks again in advance for helping spread the word and joining in on the fight against cancer.

Zach King

FF E17-A

 

 


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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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Breaking Stateman Story on Kerr Censure 

7/28/2016

 

Brother and Sister Fire Fighters,

 

After repeatedly expressing their concerns on safety issues affecting the Austin community to no avail, as well as issues affecting their own safety and well-being, Austin's Fire Fighters today resoundingly voted to reaffirm their ongoing censorship of Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr.

Link to Rhonda Mae Kerr Censure

Kerr Censure Wording

In a follow up to their 2014 censure, 87% of the Austin Fire Fighters this week once again voiced their displeasure with the direction the Austin Fire Department is heading and voted to submit a censure resolution to be heard at the International Association of Fire Fighters Convention, being held August 15th-19th in Las Vegas.

This mandate confirms what Austin's Fire Fighters have been trying express all along- that the system used to voice concerns and work together to fix problems on this great department is broken and in serious need of repair.

Among the major issues for the censure are the complete disregard of the collective bargaining agreement the Kerr Administration has with the Austin Fire Fighters Association Local 975 and the civil service laws in place to protect working conditions. In addition, excessive punishment on minor issues has plunged department morale to an all-time low.

The Austin Fire Fighters Association strives to have a harmonious relationship between labor and management, one that works in good faith together to accomplish great things. We still believe this is possible and wish to continue to work with Chief Kerr and her staff to address the unresolved concerns.

Upon adoption of the censure by the convention body, Chief Kerr have earned the distinction of being nationally censured during two consecutive IAFF national conventions.

Thank you for your support during these tough times.

 

Bob Nicks

President

Austin Fire Fighters Association

 

 


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Online Vote Results:

Link to Rhonda Mae Kerr Censure Vote Results

Link to ESD Vote, 500 Hours

Link to ESD Vote, 1000 Hours

Link to ESD Vote, Background Check

It has been reported to me that on some mobile devices, there is an issue accessing the online vote. If this happen to you, turn off the mobile template. This will allow you to vote.  

Click here for short video on how to obtain a lost or forgotten AFA Membership user name and password. If the tip in the video do not work for you, please email me at bob_nicks@yahoo.com for login assistance.  


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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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Brother and Sister Firefighters,

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has just informed the City of Austin that the Austin Fire Department (AFD) can proceed with hiring the first 30 candidates on the Cadet Hiring List. The 30 candidates should be notified soon and are tentatively scheduled to start August 8th.

The other candidates, priority hires and others in the top 200 on the list, will be contacted by AFD to let them know their status. AFD has asked this group to remain patient and they will contact you as soon as they can.

The DOJ has not approved the entire Cadet Hiring List as of yet, they have only approved a class of 30 that will start in August. The DOJ may have additional questions concerning the process and they are still reviewing the information but, without waiving their objection under the Consent Decree, they have no objection to AFD notifying the top 30 candidates.  

 

Bob Nicks

President, Austin Firefighters Association

 

 

 


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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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