At the August union meetings a TA (Tentative Agreement) or contract proposal from the City was discussed with the members.
There will be a ratification meeting held on Friday, August 12 and Tuesday, August 16 starting at 0900 to discuss and ratify the MOU.
Please make every effort to attend one of the meetings so you can be informed and your voice heard. If you have any questions about the TA please feel free to contact one of your Executive Board members.
Hope to see you on the 12th or 16th.
A message from Local 753 President Carlton Jones
Greetings to all of our members and fire family
I hope you all had the best holiday season possible as we start off a new year. 2015 was a challenging year for our members, our leadership, and our families. We have gotten over many hills and challenges, yet we have many more to overcome. To assure that the future of our union is bright and on an upward tick, we can’t forget where we came from, how we got there, and the goals we made while we were there. In this letter to you, I want to briefly give you an update on these points; where we came from, where we are, and where we are trying to go. I am forever grateful for this opportunity to serve as your president.
Where we came from:
In recent past, our nation, state, and city are recovering from the greatest recession of our life time. While dealing with the challenges caused by the recession, our department saw 5 Chief changes, major cuts to staffing, training and service delivery to our community. I stood before Fresno city council in 2014 and told them that all of the cuts made to our fire department crossed the line that divided “cost effective and safe”. I warned them of the risk they were taking and how that risk was being put on the backs of frontline firefighters. This was a “lean” concept and epidemic sweeping public service everywhere.
The recovery of the recession is also part of our recent past. It began 3-4 years ago and things continue to get better. We have a Chief who is dedicated to this department. We have an administration staffed to post recession levels. City hall has improved its credit rating, paid off bills early, created positions at city hall, landed promising projects and given bonuses. Yet on the fire front line we continued to run calls and face risk with reduced daily staffing levels and our help comes from further away. Our call volume continues to rise. Our resources, overused tools and equipment we use to do our jobs are spread dangerously thin. The goal put on us was to do more with less and we did.
Where we are:
We are in Survival mode. While this is not a desired position to be in, I can honestly say that, in survival mode, you guys are who I would want there with me. As I look at mission statement posters hanging around our department, I mentally make changes to them. We can no longer put service above all else. As your elected, my mission statement is to “protect and serve and make sure we all go home”. We can’t ignore the Cortland fire and the effect it has had on all of us. We can’t ignore our battles with illnesses and injury within our fire family, including retirees and the effects it has on all of us and our quality of life. We can’t ignore that having a contract imposed on us has a negative effect. Seeing the reduced number of firefighters wanting to come to Fresno and knowing that some of us are leaving or wanting to go to other departments are signs of those effects. The hole that has been dug in the past is where we are today. That’s the simple truth and we are making the best of it. We are grateful for the move in the right direction taken by our city leaders. Positions to address training are a very important element to a multi layered problem. After a long drought, that first drop of rain is pretty sweet. But PTSD along with physical and mental health are paramount today. I know some of our members are having hard times. I’m doing everything I can to find them and help them. If you think a member is having a hard time, encourage them to get help or let me know. This is an area where I would rather say we did too much before I say I didn’t do enough.
Now on the horizon is this SART report. For weeks we have been warned of its coming. We have been told it is going to sting. We have been told that we should change our culture of an aggressive department and that we are complacent. I don’t see a SART report as the coming judge. I see it as a learning tool. It might be the athlete in me but I see this as an opportunity to be evaluated by outside eyes. I see this as advice that we will listen to and decide together what parts we can use to make us better. Even in games that we win, we review the game to see where we can improve. We want to learn from every call. We make changes when think we should.
Like most of us, I take pride in the reputation that we are an “Aggressive Department”. We are also very busy for a department of our size. We fight a lot of fires and we have some of the best fire fighters around. Repetition is a blessing and a curse. The more we do something, the better we get and the curse is the more we fight fire, the more we are exposed to hazards. The comfort that we’ve developed by doing is the ultimate goal of training. I cannot say we are complacent. Complacency is self-satisfaction, contentment with one’s situation. We all want to be better and safer. Every member of this department has the attitude of improvement. That’s how we will view the SART report. We can only do our best with the tools we have. In these times, one mental change that I think we all need to make is putting our personal safety and the quality of life that we will live when we are no longer firefighters back on our mission statement.
Where do we go?
A big part of my campaign focused on rebuilding relationships. I wanted to have a transparent relationship with members of the union. I want them to understand and know what their union leaders are working on. Our members will know where we are in negotiations every step of the way. I shared this information at our union meetings. For those of you who cannot make it to meetings, I can schedule meetings to bring updates to you at your stations. If you would like for me to visit your crew at the station, call me or the union hall. Julie can add your request to my calendar and I will get out to you for a visit. We have many important issues right in front of us. Going home will always be our top priority. We have to start thinking about our quality of life. Be more personal with your “on the job friends”. If you ever need help or you know one of your coworkers is in need of help, help them. We can't afford to lose any member.
View the SART as a training tool. It will be the first time we have been through this process. Let’s treat it as the first time and not make assumptions of what it’s going to be. I promise you that as your Union President I will keep Our interest my top priority.
I would hope that healthy conversation will start once this report is seen by our members. I hope that we can identify and make necessary changes to minimize unforeseen risk we face. Low daily staffing levels and truck companies is an area we will continue to work and support our administration to improve.
As far as negotiations are going, there is not much movement. Your negotiation team is doing a good job fighting for a fair contract. I will go more into detail on my station visits. As information changes I will update our members. It is our stance that overtime is not a raise. It is also our stance that our Chief, supported by our Union know what is best for Fresno Fire. Our goal is to deliver that message to City Hall and rebuild our department to prerecession staffing levels and to build a new level of moral.
Thank you all,
Carlton Jones, President Local 753
A Fresno Firefighters Association general membership ratification meeting is scheduled for:
Friday, 8/12/16, starting at 9:00 a.m.
Tuesday, 8/16/16, starting at 9:00 a.m.
Please make an effort to attend one of the meetings, your cooperation is appreciated.