CPF District 5 represents federal firefighters across the state of California.

Vandenberg Firefighters, Local F-116 Remember Fallen Brother

After Ventura County firefighter Ryan Osler died while fighting the Canyon Fire near Vandenberg Air Force base, the men and women who protect the base worked to make sure his loved ones knew the sacrifice would not be forgotten. 

In late February, working with the United Launch Alliance, members of Vandenberg Firefighters, Local F-116 hosted Osler’s family to an unveiling of an Atlas V rocket whose scheduled launch was being dedicated to Osler’s memory. 

For Osler’s family, and particularly his widow Jennifer, the experience was an intensely emotional one. 

“I was immediate moved to tears when I saw Vandenberg firefighters lined up awaiting our arrival,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “Again, tears came quickly when I saw my husband’s name placed on the larger-than-life rocket.”

The launch was reportedly the first rocket dedication made toa person who was not directly associated with the aerospace industry, and an ideal representation of the fraternal bonds that the men and women of the fire service share with one another. 

“There’s a strong sense of brotherhood in the fire service,” said Local F-116 president Charlie Martinez. “It was an honor to be able to have our members there to support Ryan’s family.”

Anti-Union Attacks Launched in Congress

Federal firefighters have been made the target of an anti-labor bill introduced in Congress, a measure that some critics are calling a back-door attempt to bust federal unions. 

The bill, H.R. 1364 (Hice, R-GA), targets federal employees and their use of “official time,” legally-protected time during which employees may advocate for their members during work hours.  Specifically, the bill would prevent workers from receiving bonuses or counting days during which “official time” was used toward their creditable years of service for retirement purposes. 

“If passed, this bill would force federal union leaders to choose between advocating for the health and safety of their members or receiving the retirement benefits they deserve,” said Mike Massone, president of Federal Firefighters San Diego, Local F-55 and 5th District Vice President for the CPF.

Critics of H.R. 1364 note that, despite the author’s insistence upon characterizing “official time” as a way for labor leaders to be paid while conducting internal union business, activities such as union elections, dues collection and membership solicitation are already prohibited under various provisions. Instead, official time typically covers meetings with management on issues such as workplace safety, collective bargaining and other subjects that impact the workforce as a whole. 

During a hearing on the bill in the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland lambasted the measure as “incredibly unfair and punitive” while American Federation of Government Employees leadership labeled it the most blatant attack on federal union representatives in recent memory. 

CPF is actively working with California’s congressional delegation to oppose H.R. 1364, while leadership across the International Association of Fire Fighters’ 16th District does the same across the nation.