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  • Batt. Chiefs in or out of the union?

    I'm starting a push to get my Shift Commanders out of the union. It'll be a contract minimum-manning issue, and it may not be successful, but I'm curious how many departments (small municipal) have their senior always-on duty officers in the union?

    I'm talking the one who typically performs vacation, callout and OT duties, along with command of all stations in the city?
    "The less a man makes declarative statements, the less apt he is to look foolish in retrospect." -Quentin Tarantino

  • #2
    Anybody working for the department who took the oath of office should be a union member. The small number of desk vs. field shouldn't wreck votes or change agendas significantly, even if the upper echelon forgets why it exists. The guys at the top are not management, they are command and while I can't articulate the difference easily, I can tell the attitude difference between a manager and a commander. At my civilian jobs, I was always able and had no problem telling a manager to screw off--they're managing, not commanding, not ordering. Their position is not a rank, it's merely another task within the company. They represent no higher authority or office. They are owed no special respect to maintain rank discipline. Certainly the jobs resemble each other, but think about it: would you treat your boss at McDonald's the same way you treat your Captain? Would you have the same feelings? Civilians who get a boss who approaches things fro ma military standpoint in a cube farm sure get the difference (and usually resent it) so why are we in the fire service getting so goofy about the difference?

    It's like calling victims/civilians customers. BAD word choice. Customers are always right, victims are often wrong. Customers determine how service is to be delivered. a "customer" could tell you to not cut a hole in the roof, or not break a door. A victim just has to watch. This is why we have different words in the language, even when they are similar.
    Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by mcnally View Post
      I'm starting a push to get my Shift Commanders out of the union.
      Which side of the bargaining table are you sitting on: Labor or Management? What benefit do you hope to accomplish with this strategy?

      FWIW, it doesn't sound like a particularly good idea to me.

      For the record, our Captains (Shift Commanders equivalent to your BCs) are part of our Local. Only the top level Chiefs are not.)
      Last edited by DeputyMarshal; 02-27-2007, 03:08 PM.
      "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"
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      The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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      • #4
        Our shift commanders (captains) are union members and hire overtime, fill out daily payroll information, and do other general administrative work in addition to supervising two stations. They report to the Asst. chief who is also a union member. The Chief and I are the only two non-union members of the department.

        It would be nearly impossible to discipline any union members if the Chief and I were unionized. We also deal with issues involving members that have various degrees of union involvement. Sometimes, we have to take the stand that is right for the fire department which may not be in the members best interest.

        A chief who is a union member could not negotiate for the department. Who would you rather have representing the fire department during negotiations, a chief officer or some political hack from city hall?

        The captains perform management functions as well as command. The Chief and I, while we function as incident commanders, are also the upper management for the department. I can assure you that any member here who told me, the chief, or any officer to "screw off" just because he considered us managers would be looking for a new job rather quickly.

        In small departments, all the officers have varying degrees leadership and management functions.
        Last edited by KenNFD1219; 02-27-2007, 05:25 PM.
        -------------------
        "The most mediocre man or woman can suddenly seem dynamic, forceful, and decisive if he or she is mean enough." from "Crazy Bosses"
        -----------------------------------------------
        Genius has its limits, but stupidity is boundless.

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        • #5
          Let sleeping dogs lie.

          According to our state law, bargaining unit membership is dictated by the state code. Anyone can be in the union, but if you have primarily management responsibilities you are not in the bargaining unit.

          So our Battalion Chief is out, and our Company Officers are in the union.

          I think trying to get your shift commanders out of the union is a bad idea. If your Union is not strong right now, taking away membership will definitely rally the troops together. They will view it as an attack on the union, and btw it is.

          If you've got a problem with the way they (the BC's) are doing business, deal with the problem. Union membership does not prevent coaching, commanding, or disciplinary action. Getting them out of the union will not solve any problems, and it will make any of your other problems much worse.

          My department is still trying to deal with the carnage created by a chief that tried to bust the union. It will take 15-20 years before relations improve, and everyone stung by the last administration is retired.

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          • #6
            This is about the Fing stupidest thing I've ever heard. We complain that the chiefs forget where they're from, yet we typically want them out of unions? Any member of the department who ahs taken the oath is duty bound to enter a hazard zone. They are not "management" in the typical sense of the word.

            As soon as we draw a distinction, WE put firefighters outside of our community. WE make them not "us." It's foolish.
            Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by johnny46 View Post
              This is about the Fing stupidest thing I've ever heard. We complain that the chiefs forget where they're from, yet we typically want them out of unions? Any member of the department who ahs taken the oath is duty bound to enter a hazard zone. They are not "management" in the typical sense of the word.

              As soon as we draw a distinction, WE put firefighters outside of our community. WE make them not "us." It's foolish.
              I second the motion

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              • #8
                Chiefs don't belong in a firefighters union. They are management, and we are labor. How can both parts be represented when management enforces rules, and punishment is dictated by them? Often times, chief officers are in direct contradiction with firefighter needs.
                The case could even be argued that company officers should be represented by their own association, as company officers are responsible for reprimands, and such. Technically speaking, company officers are mid-level management.
                Management and labor do not have the same interests in mind.

                As a sidenote, our deputy and battalion level chiefs are responsible for over-time hiring. Our local handles all vacation picking for the ranks of firefighter-captain, and does a very good job at it.
                Last edited by jasper45; 02-28-2007, 03:16 PM.

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                • #9
                  Local 2068 represents everyone from the Recruit Firefighter all the way to the Fire Chief...
                  Member IACOJ - Building crust and full of lust...

                  "It's okay to to scared, just don't be chicken." - Clark

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                  • #10
                    In St Paul the 24 hr street Chiefs- District Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs are in their own union, fire Supervisors Association. The admin Chiefs that are not.
                    All ot is called back by the union.
                    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
                    "I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
                    George Mason
                    Co-author of the Second Amendment
                    during Virginia's Convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Kobersteen View Post
                      Local 2068 represents everyone from the Recruit Firefighter all the way to the Fire Chief...
                      Interesting. Is the Chief entitled to union representation during grievance or disciplinary actions? Of course, I am assuming there is not a higher authority overseeing the FD such as a Commissioner or Board of Directors.
                      -------------------
                      "The most mediocre man or woman can suddenly seem dynamic, forceful, and decisive if he or she is mean enough." from "Crazy Bosses"
                      -----------------------------------------------
                      Genius has its limits, but stupidity is boundless.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by KenNFD1219 View Post
                        Interesting. Is the Chief entitled to union representation during grievance or disciplinary actions? Of course, I am assuming there is not a higher authority overseeing the FD such as a Commissioner or Board of Directors.
                        Representation: That is a very good question.

                        EVERYONE has a higher authority...
                        Member IACOJ - Building crust and full of lust...

                        "It's okay to to scared, just don't be chicken." - Clark

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                        • #13
                          When I was the president of our local we moved to have the Battalion chiefs join the union. We did this because everyone saw the benefit of us speaking has one department with all members having one voice. The test we used was very simple...could a BC hire or fire a member, could a BC disipline a member and could he suspend a member...the answer was no, only the city and the chief could do those things. BC have the right to run the shifts, send a member home for wrong doing and keep general order and efficency of the department with on his shift. The BCs also needed protection for any screw-ups they may have. We are a small department 33 members and we all have a stake in one thing......going home alive.

                          PS

                          "I'm talking the one who typically performs vacation, callout and OT duties, along with command of all stations in the city?"

                          Whats the problem with that......sounds like one BC got you goat...
                          IACOJ Membership 2002
                          {15}

                          Mike IAFF

                          The beatings will continue until the morale improves

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jasper45 View Post
                            Chiefs don't belong in a firefighters union. They are management, and we are labor. How can both parts be represented when management enforces rules, and punishment is dictated by them? Often times, chief officers are in direct contradiction with firefighter needs.
                            The case could even be argued that company officers should be represented by their own association, as company officers are responsible for reprimands, and such. Technically speaking, company officers are mid-level management.
                            Management and labor do not have the same interests in mind.
                            Punishment is meted out in the interest of discipline, which is in the interest of the department, which is made up of firefighters. The "management" has taken the same oath and has the same responsibility. We are under their care, and they need to be reminded of that. They remain brother firefighters, so they should be brother union members. They daily deal with the mayor/dictator, etcetera and are responsible to get the absolute best for us. It's not like a regular boss, who seeks bonuses by saving a company money (it shouldn't be) it's like a military organization charged to defend or attack. The moment Chiefs start viewing the fire service as a business rather than a paramiltary organization is the moment we get things like understaffing and station closings.

                            The entire fire service has the same interests, managements or otherwise:

                            Save lives and protect property.

                            This cancer of regarding the fire service as a business and our civilians as customers will eat away until we are a business. That will stink, I promise. Every chief who has ever sold out his men to keep his position (I argue that the department should choose its chief, not the city) has approached the job as a business.
                            Logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mcnally View Post
                              I'm starting a push to get my Shift Commanders out of the union. It'll be a contract minimum-manning issue, and it may not be successful, but I'm curious how many departments (small municipal) have their senior always-on duty officers in the union?

                              I'm talking the one who typically performs vacation, callout and OT duties, along with command of all stations in the city?
                              What's the matter.. have a micturating contest with the Shift Commander?

                              There are few" brothers" who bring this up from time to time.... they want all of the officers out of the Local, as they feel that they are "management"...

                              Most of these same "brothers" have problems with authority and aren't worth crap on the fireground either...

                              Be careful what you wish for... you just might get it.

                              PS: City/Town hall loves this.. it's divide and conquer...
                              Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 03-03-2007, 01:16 PM.
                              ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
                              Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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