From The Secretary
President Bush Continues to Pressure Labor Unions
By: Francis D. Kelly, Secretary
Recently six Republican Senators crossed party lines to block overtime legislation proposed by the Bush Admin-istration.

The Harkin Amendment to the Labor/Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill was defeated 54-45 by the Senate. This Bill would allow employers to pay employees straight time for overtime once the employee reached a yet-to-be determined income threshold for the year. Naturally the lower the threshold, the greater benefit enjoyed by the employer.

The six Republican Senators are:

Senator Campbell, Colorado
Senator Murkowski, Alaska
Senator Chafee, Rhode Island
Senator Spector, Pennsylvania
Senator Stevens, Alaska
Senator Snowe, Maine

The lone Democrat to vote against organized labor was Senator Zell Miller from Georgia.

President Bush continues to attack unions on several fronts. Political Action Committee donations (although Rush Limbaugh had his friends continue unabated), Check-off contributions (union dues deducted from your paycheck) and strict guidelines accounting for time spent on union activities. This would create a bureaucratic nightmare. Stay tuned, we will keep you updated on what our friend in Congress, Representative Tom Lantos of San Mateo calls the most anti-union administration in his 23 years in Congress.

Vacation Accrual

This past year we have had discussions about your vacation accrual, entitlements and maximum accrual rates.

If adopted, new language pursuant to Section 16:15 of the San Francisco Administration Code will no longer allow individuals to accrue vacation hours in excess of the following maximums:

1-5 years of continuous service 480 hrs.
5-15 years of continuous service 540 hrs.
15+ years of continuous service 600 hrs.

Every firefighter and paramedic working in suppression should monitor his/her vacation carefully. You have until December 31, 2005 to lower your vacation banks to a comfortable 360 hours. Regardless of what category you fit into, the goal of 360 hours by years end will allow you to accrue and use your full vacation entitlement for the following year. It is very important that each and every one of our members realize beginning January 2006 you will stop accruing vacation, anytime during the calendar year, once you have reached your caps. To be completely safe, 360 hours is the key at years’ end. If you have any questions, please call the Union office at 621-7103.

A Few Thoughts on the Mayoral Election

First of all, congratulations to Mayor-Elect Gavin Newsom. Secondly, a hardy thanks to all the firefighters and paramedics who donated their time during the election campaign, particularly Friday, December 5th with over 150 volunteers and election day Tuesday, December 9th when 250 of our members turned out for the final round of festivities.

Mayor-Elect Newsom overcame a 16% deficit (42% for Newsom in the general election to 58% for the opponents). During the run-off, Mayor-elect Newsom remained true to running a positive campaign. Married to the issues and promulgating a novel concept of being committed to a platform for the future, Mayor-Elect Newsom was able to win over 11% of the electorate that voted against him in the general election.

Supervisor Gonzalez proved to be a worthy opponent and obviously no flash in the pan. However, being cool and running against Mayor Brown wasn’t good enough to convince the electorate that he was the answer.

Supervisor Gonzalez’ political naiveté surfaced when he embraced former Mayor Art Agnos as his advisor and confidant.

Mayor Agnos’ political career can be traced to the very machine Supervisor Gonzalez opposed. Furthermore, there are too many real San Franciscans that remember those Agnos years. For many of us who lived through his intransigent administration, with no less than eleven deputy mayors, his remarks questioning the ethics of Mayor-Elect Newsom produced a plethora of retired firefighters to get out the vote and walk a few precincts. Ethics and Agnos (the former mayor) are not synonymous.

Forgive me for the diversion, I must remind myself that this was a positive campaign and the real victory was for the people and the future of San Francisco, Mayor-Elect Gavin Newsom certainly has a full plate. I believe he will prove to be the right choice. Local 798 offers our continued support.


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