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  • Brother looking for some help

    Hey guys

    I'm looking for some help regarding some of my local's members volunteering in other departments that have career firemen/union members. I know a lot of you are going to say "Don't you have something else more important to worry about?". Yes, I do. But this is one of the issues that I'm trying to spearhead for my local. It's even worse that some of our members are going to their volly houses and "bumping" another union member off the apparatus just so they can ride as a volly. My department is a classic combination system: It used to be all volunteer, and then in the 80's started to get a handfull of career people, and now we're up to about 400 career staff with the volunteer numbers dwindling fast.

    I myself am not a volunteer, but please know that this is not an anti-volunteer post. This is a union brother trying to get some background and knowledge for a battle that I'm trying to fight. What does the International say about this? I know this has been talked about before, I just can't find exactly what I'm looking for. Is there any particular article that says union members should not volunteer where there are other union members or anything?

    Thanks in advance for any help. It is appreciated

  • #2
    I think this will let you know somewhat where the IAFF stands.


    Dear IAFF Affiliate Presidents:

    I am writing to you in order to clarify and correct a letter I authorized to be written and sent over my signature to Congressman Felix Grucci on July 25, 2002, relating to IAFF members serving as volunteers. This letter has unfortunately been used and misused by those who wish to create difficulties for IAFF locals exercising their rights under our Constitution and By-Laws in dealing with IAFF members who choose to volunteer. I regret that, as prepared and sent, the Grucci letter has caused serious concerns for some of our affiliates. I want to set the record straight.

    Earlier this year our friends in Congress had been strongly warning us that a campaign of confusion and misinformation regarding the IAFF's position on volunteers was underway. This campaign, in their judgment, would jeopardize our standing on Capitol Hill, and thereby seriously threaten our entire legislative agenda, including national collective bargaining and our staffing initiative. With increasing impatience, they encouraged us to respond to these issues, both to protect our legislative interests and to alleviate the extreme pressure that our Congressional allies were confronting for supporting the IAFF's position. The letter was generated in response to those concerns.

    I can recall few issues during my thirty-two year union career that have caused as much scrutiny and searing public criticism as this issue has created in the last year. This attention was the product of an outside smear campaign focused on several factors. Among these were the IAFF Executive Board's rightful decision to declare a number of volunteer fire departments as rival organizations in December of 2000, as well as the decision by several locals in the United States and Canada to appropriately exercise their rights under our Constitution to file charges against IAFF members who were serving as volunteer, part-time or paid on-call fire fighters.

    Both of these situations resulted in intense media coverage. Much of the media attention had been generated and aggravated by a few national volunteer fire organizations in an effort to undermine the IAFF's historical stance on this issue. Newspaper editorials condemned the IAFF, and the volunteer organizations orchestrated a letter-writing campaign of misinformation to Congress, and to state and provincial legislatures, demanding a political response. In the wake of September 11, some politicians even had the gall to suggest that IAFF members who sought to enforce our Constitution lacked community spirit. Some Congressional opponents also attempted to paint our position as a deliberate affront to President Bush's call to the nation for every American to volunteer their time to some public service.

    Consequently, our opponents in the United States Congress were poised in early July to introduce an unprecedented Congressional resolution that would have censured and condemned the IAFF. Recognizing the Congressional action on the resolution was imminent, I authorized senior staff to draft and send a letter over my signature which was intended to deal only with the employment rights of career fire fighters under U.S. law if they were expelled from the IAFF for serving as volunteers.

    Although the letter was intended to clarify the confusion and misinformation that had been generated on Capitol Hill, unfortunately it did not accurately reflect the union's or my position regarding this matter and created more problems for some of our affiliates, than resolve the narrow issues it was intended to address. Due in part to the extraordinary time constraints involved, the letter was poorly written and hastily sent. In retrospect, it was an ill-advised effort to mollify our opponents, and the letter should never have been sent.

    As straightforward as I can be with you, I should have been more diligent to ensure that the process of drafting and sending a letter of such importance, over my signature, reflected the union's as well as my personally held views.

    I can think of no other issue that has aroused as much passion, or has been the subject of such strongly held beliefs, as the issue of IAFF members who volunteer as fire fighters and paramedics. Perhaps because of my own early struggle to create an IAFF local in a combination fire department that was forced to compete with volunteer fire fighters for equipment and resources, I am particularly sensitive to the internal strife that can arise when our members serve as volunteers.

    The IAFF Constitution makes it clear that IAFF members can be subject to charges and internal discipline if they serve as volunteers. The Convention delegates who added this provision to our Constitution clearly recognized that, all too often, jurisdictions rely upon the services of volunteers to undermine the efforts of our own members to obtain the resources necessary to support a properly staffed and adequately equipped full time career fire department. As a union representing the interests of paid professional fire fighters, we can and must promote the interests of our members by strongly advocating career fire departments across North America.

    Let me be as clear as possible. We as a union, by Convention actions, do not represent or condone volunteer, part-time or paid on-call fire fighters. This is also my personal position, as it has been from the time that I first joined the IAFF. It remains my position today as your General President, and I have reiterated this position to affiliate leaders on a number of occasions.

    As General President, I have the responsibility to interpret the IAFF Constitution and Bylaws, and to decide any appeals brought before my office from a trial board's decision regarding a misconduct charge. Though I have not yet been required to decide an appeal from a trial board decision pertaining to this issue, you should harbor no doubt that I shall apply the foregoing principles to any dispute that is brought before my office involving an IAFF member's support or participation in a volunteer fire department or association.

    It is time to reaffirm the provisions of our Constitution on this critical issue to those both inside and outside of our organization. Although an IAFF member may make a personal choice to join a volunteer fire department, that personal choice is one that can have serious consequences under our Constitution, including the loss of IAFF membership.

    In closing, as the General President of a union charged with promoting the interests of paid, full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics, I will continue to work vigorously to make certain that all IAFF members enjoy a safe working environment, just compensation, and are afforded the rights they deserve.

    Fraternally,

    Harold A. Schaitberger
    General President

    Cc: Vincent J. Bollon, General Secretary-Treasurer
    IAFF Executive Board
    Local 216
    Secretary/Treasurer

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm trying to figure out how the vollies are "bumping" the career guys off of apparatus. Is there some policy at this department that vollies get ride positions over the career guys or something? At the same time, if this is such a big deal with the other department, why isn't their local fighting it (or are they?)?

      I can just see the animosity (between departments, that is) that could arise if your union fights a battle another department should be handling.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by SME3756
        Hey guys

        I'm looking for some help regarding some of my local's members volunteering in other departments that have career firemen/union members. I know a lot of you are going to say "Don't you have something else more important to worry about?". Yes, I do. But this is one of the issues that I'm trying to spearhead for my local. It's even worse that some of our members are going to their volly houses and "bumping" another union member off the apparatus just so they can ride as a volly. My department is a classic combination system: It used to be all volunteer, and then in the 80's started to get a handfull of career people, and now we're up to about 400 career staff with the volunteer numbers dwindling fast.

        I myself am not a volunteer, but please know that this is not an anti-volunteer post. This is a union brother trying to get some background and knowledge for a battle that I'm trying to fight. What does the International say about this? I know this has been talked about before, I just can't find exactly what I'm looking for. Is there any particular article that says union members should not volunteer where there are other union members or anything?

        Thanks in advance for any help. It is appreciated
        I personally couldn't work with a guy who knowingly did that to another member. They should be ostracized by their fellow firemen. Tell them to knock it off or face the consquences. They knew the rules when they promised to obey them upon joining the union. Now they want to go back on their word? Give them one chance and then let them swing on their own.
        I am a complacent liability to the fire service

        Comment


        • #5
          President Schaitberger's letter is refering to Article XV, Section 3 of the IAFF Constitution & By-Laws which states:
          “Any member found working a secondary job as a paid-on-call fire fighter or an employee of a public employer, nonprofit corporation, or a private contracting firm providing fire protection or emergency medical services to a city, county, municipality, or a fire protection district, as a volunteer, reserve, part-time, part-paid, police officer, police reserve, or public safety officer may be subject to charges being filed against that member.”

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by BackstepFF
            President Schaitberger's letter is refering to Article XV, Section 3 of the IAFF Constitution & By-Laws which states:
            “Any member found working a secondary job as a paid-on-call fire fighter or an employee of a public employer, nonprofit corporation, or a private contracting firm providing fire protection or emergency medical services to a city, county, municipality, or a fire protection district, as a volunteer, reserve, part-time, part-paid, police officer, police reserve, or public safety officer may be subject to charges being filed against that member.”
            So, aside from the fact that someone pays to be a member of the IAFF, the IAFF can bring them up on "charges?" Not only working as a vollie FF, but as EMS personnel or a cop?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by ChicagoFF
              I personally couldn't work with a guy who knowingly did that to another member. They should be ostracized by their fellow firemen. Tell them to knock it off or face the consquences. They knew the rules when they promised to obey them upon joining the union. Now they want to go back on their word? Give them one chance and then let them swing on their own.
              What about departments that you have to belong to the IAFF in order
              to be employed? is that fair? And yet you cannot volunteer in a rural
              community that will most likely NEVER have a paid department?

              And I also have no idea what he is talking about when he says a union
              firefighter is bumped from the apparatus by a volunteer. I have never
              seen a POC department that works that way, and what does the union
              guy care anyways, he still gets paid.

              Another situation where Ratberger ought to lay down and be quiet.

              BTW, lots of locals out there look the other way about the issue.

              Comment


              • #8
                I love this topic!!! I also feel very strongly about it. The only effective way I could get my point across is to use an annalogy. So here it goes:

                Lets pretend you work in a union shop making wigits. Your contract is about to expire and your e-board is negotiating a new contract in good faith. As the talks go on the company is not willing to meet the request of fair wages and benefits. This results in a strike. While on strike some members deside to work full time across the street at the competing non-union wigit shop. While working there for much less pay and benefits one employee has a work related injury and is unable to perform his job for several months. During this time his union comes to an agreement with management and the strike is over. The union shop is short one employee due to the injury and has to fill the position with an over time employee at time and a half to fill the work demand. The injured firefighter is using sick time the union negotiated for him and the employer is also stuck paying him anyway. Is this fair to the employer? Does this put a strain on the relationship between the shop owner and the union? Was it hipicritical to work for the competitor?

                Now lets put the fire service spin on it. Lets say you feel obligated to volunteer in the town that "trained you". You respond to a call on your "own time". You know the time that is your right to do what ever you want to do in this free country of ours. On this call you break a leg and are going to be out of work for six months. The city you work for has to fill your spot with an overtime firfighter. You are using sick time that your union negotiated in good faith for you. Who is realy paying for this injury? The city tax payers! Should the city tax payers pay for fire protection in your little village? Is this fair to the city tax payers? Is this being loyal to your employer? How does the city fathers feel about this? Will it put a strain on the unions relationship with the city? Resulting in a more difficult negotiation in the next contract? The city will certainly bring up the question of why should we give you a raise if you are willing to do the same job for nothing across the street? Does your little village right a check to your city to cover their cost of this whole thing? NO!!! Is this a conflict of interest? YES!!! What if you have a presumtive health care claim. Will your city willingly pay it if you are a known volunteer? NO WAY! The city will want proof your claim is a result of your employment with them and they will use the argument that you did the same job else where. And to be honest they have a point. Now your union will have to spend stupid money on an attorney to fight this for you when you went against them in the beginning when you chose to volunteer on "your own time".

                The argument I often hear is that this employee could have broken his leg sky diving on his own time. While this is true it is not a conflict of interest to sky dive and it is your leisure choice. This is why we have health care benefits and sick time.

                I also completely understand the feeling that you owe your volunteer dept. something. There are many things you can do with out being a conflict of interest. ie: help out at there fund raisers, offer to help out with training, offer to do a clerical job. Giving back to your community is a wonderful thing and I encourage it. Just don't put yourself in a position where you put the interest of your family, union, and employer at risk. Many dept.s in this country are never going to be full time and they shouldn't be. Why pay a carreer staff to respond to 2 calls a week? These communities need volunteers. But if your little village can't function with out you they have bigger problems than they realize.

                So if you are an IAFF member who volunteers - remember the oath!!!
                IAFF member, Love this job! Remember the oath!

                Comment


                • #9
                  You tell me what department REQUIRES that you belong. They cannot force you!
                  Originally posted by LVFD301
                  What about departments that you have to belong to the IAFF in order
                  to be employed? is that fair? And yet you cannot volunteer in a rural
                  community that will most likely NEVER have a paid department?

                  And I also have no idea what he is talking about when he says a union
                  firefighter is bumped from the apparatus by a volunteer. I have never
                  seen a POC department that works that way, and what does the union
                  guy care anyways, he still gets paid.

                  Another situation where Ratberger ought to lay down and be quiet.

                  BTW, lots of locals out there look the other way about the issue.
                  Local 216
                  Secretary/Treasurer

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    What I mean by "bumping", is say career union firefighter Jolly goes to his vollie house (which has 4 career union firefighters assigned to it), if he outranks the career person riding the seat, he is allowed to "bump" the officer out of the seat to another position. Now, I guess this wouldn't be a big deal to someone that hasn't had it happen to them and sounds more like chest thumping, but I just don't think it is right to do that to another brother. I've heard it first hand from some of my co-workers that do it. Straight from the horses mouth. There are LOTS of "combination" departments here in my area, and you wouldn't believe how many career guys volunteer in other "combination" departments.

                    Thanks for everyone's help so far

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SME3756
                      What I mean by "bumping", is say career union firefighter Jolly goes to his vollie house (which has 4 career union firefighters assigned to it), if he outranks the career person riding the seat, he is allowed to "bump" the officer out of the seat to another position. Now, I guess this wouldn't be a big deal to someone that hasn't had it happen to them and sounds more like chest thumping, but I just don't think it is right to do that to another brother. I've heard it first hand from some of my co-workers that do it. Straight from the horses mouth. There are LOTS of "combination" departments here in my area, and you wouldn't believe how many career guys volunteer in other "combination" departments.

                      Thanks for everyone's help so far
                      I think I have a better grasp on it. I can't say I've ever heard of a department where vollie members outrank any career FF. I'll admit, it's BS, but I still wonder if it's something the other department/union should be handling rather than yours.

                      Originally posted by ChicagoFF
                      Tough crap. You know the deal when you sign up. If you don't like it - don't take union work. What is so hard to understand???
                      That's not always the case, either. I had no idea about union rules, etc. for numerous months. I have yet to take any "oath." I have a helluva time getting information or a lot of anything else out of the union, but, by God, they don't miss taking their money out of my check every two weeks.

                      Keith-- I know what you're saying, but at the same time that could apply to any job a guy works on the side; construction, substitute teacher, truck driver, etc. At the same time, the union isn't always involved in the negotiations for this sick time, etc.

                      I really think our grand pooba has more to worry about than what a member wants to do on his off time. If they would quit with this crap of endorsing candidates, I doubt they'd have any issues like what he describes in his letter, but that's a whole other thread.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You tell me what department REQUIRES that you belong. They cannot force you!

                        Yes they can, and yes they do. My department, as well as many others in my area require you to be a member in the union; it is a condition of employment.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by KeithA8
                          Catch22,
                          The difference between a construction worker , sub teacher, or a truck driver is that those jobs do not have presumtive health issues or are a conflict of interest. Be careful though, some of those jobs might be stepping on the toes of union positions and could label you as a scab. Most carreer firefighters have a second job. This is not realy an issue. The issue is what that job is and how it effects the bargaining unit. A good example might be a part-time commercial ambulance job in a city that has a fire based EMS. I am a mortgage broker which does not have any of the issues mentioned.
                          I know what you're saying, I just don't agree with the union's position on it. At the same time, I know a lot of guys that spend more time off due to injuries because of their construction jobs than do those who vollie. And according to what backstep posted, working as an EMT/medic or a police officer part-time is a violation.

                          That kind of thing may work fine in the big cities, but in rural america (which makes up a large part of the fire service), it doesn't work that way. I would imagine if a person took the time to do a study, there's more locals with FF's violate that article than there are that don't. It goes with my biggest gripe about the IAFF, they listen to the big city boys and be damned the rest of the dues paying membership.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I know quite a few career firefighters that have got out of the IAFF because of disagreements on how things are run. I don't agree with the union trying to tell somebody what they can do and what they can't do. There's alot of employers have alot of encouragement for employees that volunteer, infact there are several around here that will pay employees when they leave work for a fire run, I know the IAFF would not support anything like that. There have been alot of career firefighters start at volunteer departments, and there are quite of few that don't forget were they came from and continue to support those departments, plus maybe giving some more knowledge to those departments.
                            Last edited by djgilbert32; 11-08-2006, 01:23 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by LVFD301
                              What about departments that you have to belong to the IAFF in order
                              to be employed? is that fair? And yet you cannot volunteer in a rural
                              community that will most likely NEVER have a paid department?
                              Tough crap. You know the deal when you sign up. If you don't like it - don't take union work. What is so hard to understand???
                              I am a complacent liability to the fire service

                              Comment

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