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Western Fallers News Letter


Once again it's news letter time and once again you'll have to excuse the somewhat untimely fashion of getting this out to our members. The guys that compile these letters and get them out to you, got busy with falling jobs right after our AGM and didn't have the time until now. We hope this note finds our members in good spirits. So far it appears that the logging season is going to be fairly lucrative year with more falling jobs available than men to fill the positions. That's a well deserved switch from the last few seasons. We've taken a look at getting some professional help with putting these news letters together and getting them out to the members. With any luck you'll see the results with the next copy.
We're having a small reoccurring problem with returning some of the phone messages we get from some of you. We've gone to return phone calls and have been left with the wrong phone number being stated on the answering machine. This has happened 3 times now. We have quite a stack of information readily available to our members but we can only get it out to you if we can find you. E-mails work well for us as most things we have on the go right now are readily available electronically.
We'll run through the chain of events that's taken place with our organization since the turn of the year. If any of you have any questions with regards to anything you read in this memo by all means give us a call. Everything gets forwarded to us in camp; we will get back to you.

Mike McKibbin, Chairman
Western Fallers Association



From the Boardroom: The WFA Board of Directors went through some notable restructuring at their last meeting. Three of our members are no longer with us. One of these positions has been replaced by a new member. Bill Housden submitted a letter of resignation earlier this year. Bill helped out right from the very early stages with laying the ground work for the WFA and was always there for us with good concrete advice as things progressed to the point they are now. We thank him for the work he has done up to date and wish him the best of luck on future endeavours. Randy Shoop and Everett Maxwell are no longer with us. Both these members never bothered to attend the last two Board meetings and it was decided by the other Board members to terminate their positions. We would like to thank them both for the work they have also done with the early stages of setting up the WFA and wish them the best. We'd like to take the opportunity to welcome Dave Parkin to the WFA Board. Dave will be representing Vancouver Island. He's fell up and down the coast for quite some time now and comes to us with good, strong recommendations from the falling community.
Like any other organization, the Western Fallers does operate under certain guidelines. Quite frankly without a few rules, regulations etc.; you don't have much of an association and unless everyone involved is reading off the same page, there will be complications. The people and the organizations that we have initiated talks with would take something like that and rip us apart being the sorts that a lot of them are.

1st Annual General Meeting: Even though the turn out for our first AGM was a little on the slim side we're still classifying it as a success. When we set this date up we knew there would be a lot of you who had gone back to work. Regardless, the meeting had to be done. Our apologies to those members who wanted to attend but couldn't due to work schedules. We're going to set the next one up for the second week-end of January, hopefully this will suite everyone's schedule a little better. We've already rebooked the Chateau Granville for this event. We do thank those members who took the time to get in and meet with us. We ran through an agenda of what we have going on to date. For the most part these items will be covered in this memo. Our disability insurance people, Penncorp, showed up and gave a detailed discussion of what they have going on for our membership. These guys are definitely catering to our needs as best they can. We'd like to thank them for the 3 annual memberships they put up as door prizes. It was a good idea they came up with on their own accord. There has been enquiries made from other organizations about being able to speak at the next meeting, we'll keep you posted as to what gets decided on there. We had T shirts made up commemorating our first AGM. Those of you that were in attendance will get one in the mail, wear 'em proudly. If you were in attendance and didn't receive one, get a hold of Mack, there's 1 printed up for you. Further notice of the next meeting will come out through the year.

Fallers Certification: As most of you are aware by now the 'grandfathering in' of existing fallers in B.C. is under way. There have been 300 fallers certified to date with another 700 registered sitting on a waiting list. Our contacts at FISA say there are about 100 a week coming in. Even though the program of getting it out to the falling community has strayed off track from where it started, the WFA still stands behind the concept of faller certification and hopes WCB and industry can get their shit together to put this program back on a realistic track. The WFA have come to deem it a 'necessary evil' for lack of a better thing to say. We have answered a huge amount of phone calls from fallers throughout the province about what's going on. It's a general consensus from those of you who have stepped up to the plate and gone through the grandfathering process that it wasn't that threatening or painful and does in fact deal with safe falling practices. There are a couple of questions that keep cropping up from those of you who have been told to get your applications in. They are as follows:

Why the f_ _k do I have to pay 150.00 to go through this thing? This is another money grab from WCB!
We have given you a fairly detailed answer in the last news letter as to why you are being asked to pay for this out of your own pockets but we'll run you through the series of events leading up to this part one more time. We'll start by saying that our association does not agree with the individual having to pay for this out of his own pocket but things could be a lot worse. A year and a half ago there was a committee stuck up of industry representatives called FACTAC. The WFA kept 2 of its board members on this committee. FACTAC's duty was to get WCB's new training standard out to the falling community. Numbers were crunched by this committee and a figure of 500.00 per faller came up which translated into just over 2 million dollars that was needed to implement this thing provincially. At that point in time it was agreed upon that the only fair thing to do was to get the whole forest sector to help pay for this with a 2 cent levy on their WCB assessments. Everybody including WCB agreed that this was the way to go. After 14 months of FACTAC dealing with legalities etc. the representatives from the licensees announced that they no longer would be part of financially supporting the fallers grandfathering project. This is what began the tailspin to the point things are at now. WCB had sunk over 2 million bucks into developing the program to date and quite frankly couldn't stand to see it shelved. The 150.00 covers the administrative costs of putting you through this along with some course material you'll receive in the mail upon registering.
Why does this thing seem so nit- picky?
Yes, there seems to be an awful lot of what appears to be trivial bullshit attached to the field exam. With the scoring system that they have developed you can pull off quite a pile of zeros through out this section and still come out with a fairly high score. Your big point getters are 'do you know how to safely get a tree knocked down and bucked up'. Don't get your dander up on the small things because that's all they are.
Can WCB use this against us when filing a claim?
As of right now, no. In order for them to do anything like that it would have to go before policy and review, brought forward for public debate and remulled back over by all parties concerned. After that it would have to go into the Workers Compensation Act which is what WCB operates out of. For the time being there is not much to worry about there although it is definitely something worth noting. In the event anything remotely close to that was on the horizon we would be made aware and deal with it accordingly as a fallers association.
What if I just don't feel like getting certified?
O.K. Right now there are 2 dates available for registration. Up until July 31st you can register for 150.00. After that until the end of the year the fee increases to 250.00. WCB felt it was necessary to do this to avoid a year end rush of applicants. We are questioning this as there has been no formal announcement come out on this program to date and there are a lot of fallers that are still unaware that anything is going on. As of the beginning of next year if you are not at least registered to be 'grandfathered in', a WCB officer can write orders up against you and the outfit you are working for. There is no firm date as of yet when all fallers have to be certified in order to work in B.C. although some of our sources are saying sometime toward the middle of 2006 is being considered. Registration forms are available at any WCB office as well as their website. We can also ship you through a set via e-mail or fax or contact FISA in Prince George at 1-877-324-1212.
We know there are other concerns with this issue but the ones we covered here have come up repeatedly. If there is anything you would like to voice personally, you could call Don Dahr at WCB. He's the head of Industry Services and can be reached toll free at 1-888-621-7233.
WCB recently held a 10 day course in Clearwater for 12 people out of the contract falling community to become Qualified Supervisor/Trainers (QS/T). We had a couple of members as well as one of our WFA Directors, Mr. Dominic Gagnon take this course. It's to our understanding that the first 5 days of class were fairly intense on these guys and we would like to take the time to congratulate them on bearing with it. It always was important to this association to have the right people out there putting you through your certification. It should be fallers certifying fallers. They still have to go through a field evaluation before they are fully licensed to carry out their duties.
Since the turn of the year the WFA has gotten involved with several other organizations and groups through out the province with regards to worker safety. Last year the provincial government stuck up a group to look into the appalling amount of accidents that have been taking place in the Forest Sector of B.C. This group was called the Forest Safety Task Force (FSTF). They met over the course of several months as well as held meetings through out the province with stakeholders to help identify what could be done to help bring accidents down in the forest industry. We were invited to several of these meetings as representatives of the WFA. Early this year the FSTF submitted their final report to the government which contained 20 recommendations. Anyone wishing a copy of what they had to say should get a hold of us, we can ship this to you electronically, it's about 90 pages. There is no doubt about it; they have identified a few items that could very well make a difference in the accident rates amongst loggers. Whether or not anything substantial ever becomes of it is another thing. Apparently this was the fifth one of these reports to be compiled. The other ones are sitting on shelves somewhere collecting dust. One of the recommendations that were in the report was to develop an Implementation Team. This group is made up of license holders, logging association reps, the IWA as well as us, the WFA. There have been 2 teleconferences to date with another meeting scheduled for the 10th of June in Richmond. Graham Bruce, the Minister of Labour will be attending this meeting. We're presuming one of the topics will be what the level of government support is at for getting involved in some of the issues that were identified. Quite frankly without a huge amount of backing coming from the province we can't see much changing. It is to our understanding once again that some of the licensees are already starting to belly-ache at some of the things on the plate. It could very well take government intervention to make these people get involved. Also with the claw backs that have taken place the provincial government is now the biggest licensee in BC. As things develop with the FSTF Implementation Team we'll let you know. Not much has taken place to date.
Right now the objective of the Implementation Team is to develop a sound infrastructure. That only makes sense. Their model consists of a Health and Safety Counsel sitting over one huge forest sector safety association.
You have heard us mention the Forest Industry Safety Association (FISA). They could and should become the 'grand central station' for what is up and coming. This winter we were approached by FISA and offered a seat on their Board of Directors. This offer was brought forward at our own Board meeting and motion was passed to accept it. They have a good spread of representation of people from the forest sector and it gave the WFA another channel to voice its concerns. As mentioned earlier they could very well end up being the 'Forest Safety Council' in B.C., if that's the case then we should be involved with them. We still stay in touch with them on the fallers' certification as they are the ones doing the clerical work.

Section 150 of the Workers Compensation Act: The right to refuse unsafe work and the discriminatory action that an employer may take against you. We brought this up in our last news letter. Motion was passed at the Board meeting to look into this matter and get something done in our favour. We got a letter in to WCB's Vice President of Policy and Research identifying this problem last month. Believe it or not we have already gotten a reply back stating that they feel we have brought forward a legitimate issue. Her closing statement reads as follows: "This issue raises broad legislative and policy questions that we will consider carefully when setting our policy priorities for 2005". Because this matter deals with some of WCB's screwed up policy towards us as one man, Limited companies, we are anticipating this to be a somewhat drawn out process before resolution is passed. Anyway we have people working with us on this one and we will continue to pursue the matter.
4th Annual Safety Conference: This was held in Richmond last month. We sent our latest addition to the Board, Dave Parkin, along to it to represent the WFA. Things must have gone along good as he didn't put a letter of resignation in afterwards and he is still speaking to the rest of us. This conference takes place annually and is put on for the safety associations in B.C. of which there are about a half dozen. WCB's new president, Mr. David Anderson, was there to address the group. It sounds like he did acknowledge the fact that WCB is not very user friendly and that there is room for improvement. He would like to see things become more of a client based system. Nothing really landmark takes place at these things but it does keep the fallers involved.
Members and membership: Once again we shipped along a membership form with this news letter. You'll notice that we upped the dues to 107.00. This was to cut down on the treasurers accounting time when dealing with GST. Yes, even our association has to ante up to the federal government. This 7.00 was costing a whole lot of extra time to properly record and process payments. Because we operate entirely on volunteer time, anything we can do to speed things up or make them simpler we have to take advantage of. That's where the extra 7 bucks comes in. Anyway, a lot of you are up for renewal. We've shipped along a registration form with this memo. If your address etc. is still the same, just write your name down on the form and send it along with your payment. If you have a change of address etc., please make a note of it. If everything is still current, just fill out your name and send it back with a cheque for 107.00. There has been some of you that have already paid up for another term, if you have, pass the form on to a co-worker. You all have to understand that the only way this association is going to fly now is on its own through a good strong membership. Something that came to light at our AGM was the fact that there are fallers out there that would like to join but for one reason or another are afraid to. Our message to them is this. The WFA has been openly identified as a role model organization to the FSTF Implementation Team by the Chairman of WCB. That was quite a compliment considering we spend a lot of our time screaming at both WCB and Industry on your behalf. There was talk by that group that we could become the way of the future for working in the bush in B.C. What he meant by this was that in order to work as a logger, all workers would have to become a member of one safety association or another. It's just talk for the time being. We have also started taking on corporate members as there was a following of people who are interested in what we are doing but are not active fallers. We are going to obtain WCB's current mailing list sometime in the near future and blanket the province on another membership campaign. In the meantime we're still counting on you, the active members to get the word out and boost the membership. This association will only be as strong as its members make it!
There is a memo that has been forwarded to us that we felt some of you may have an interest in looking at. The federal government has recently passed legislation (Bill C-45) calling on employers to take active responsibility for workplace safety and be held accountable if it is lacking. It will be interesting to see how this goes through with the logging industry here in B.C.

Worksite News: Bill C-45