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IAFF NEWS & INFORMATION

Delegates at the IAFF 53rd Convention spent the week making decisions that will guide this union for the next two years and beyond. Read more about the votes and decisions your colleagues made about your union:

*** See All Convention Coverage ***

NEWS ~ VIDEOS ~ PHOTO GALLERY ~ RESOLUTION ACTION

The IAFF 54th Convention and 100-Year Anniversary is
August 6-10, 2018 in Seattle, Washington


Opening Ceremony Highlights
The IAFF 53rd Convention in Las Vegas opened with a spectacular Opening Ceremony in celebration of the theme Strength, Solidarity and Success. The program began with a parade of members carrying flags from all of the U.S. states and Canadian provinces and territories that contain IAFF affiliates. At the peak of the ceremony, IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger delivered the State of the Union address.

 

Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever FAQs

http://afl.salsalabs.com/o/4049/images/west-africa-outbreak-infographic-header.jpgWhile it has been known that the deadly epidemic of Ebola is occurring in several western countries in Africa, the first confirmed case in the United States occurred  in Dallas, Texas. On September 30, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed the first travel-associated case. 

Fire fighters and EMS personnel transport daily many patients with fever, vomiting, and diarrhea, which are common symptoms of Ebola and other infectious diseases. Therefore, it is important that a patient history is taken that includes the onset and severity of symptoms, medications, history of travel, and potential exposures. As always, consistently use standard precautions during every patient encounter.

According to the CDC, use of standard, contact and droplet precautions is recommended to prevent the spread of Ebola. This includes fluid resistant or impermeable long-sleeve gowns, single or double gloves, eye protection, leg coverings and disposable shoe covers.
The transmission of the Ebola virus occurs through direct contact with blood and bodily fluids of an infected person. It can also be transmitted through exposure to objects that are contaminated by the bodily fluids, such as needles.

For more information on what fire fighters should know about Ebola, click here.

 

IAFF 90 Years of History

 

There is no other call more challenging to fire ground operations than a MAYDAY call - the unthinkable moment when a fire fighter's personal safety is in imminent danger. To help fire fighters prepare for and survive a Mayday, the IAFF has developed a comprehensive Fire Ground Survival training program.

Fire fighter fatality data compiled by the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) have shown that fire fighters "becoming trapped and disoriented represent the largest portion of structural fire ground fatalities." The incidents in which fire fighters have lost their lives, or lived to tell about it, have a consistent theme: inadequate situational awareness put them at risk.

Fire fighters don't plan to be lost, disoriented, injured or trapped during a structure fire or emergency incident. But fires are unpredictable, volatile and ruthless - and they will not go according to plan. What a fire fighter knows about a fire before entering a blazing building may radically change within minutes once inside the structure. Smoke, low visibility, lack of oxygen, structural instability and an unpredictable fire ground can cause even the most seasoned fire fighter to be overwhelmed in an instant.

So it's not a matter of IF the MAYDAY happens, it's WHEN!

The IAFF Fire Ground Survival training course is a comprehensive curriculum developed using near misses, close calls and fire fighter fatalities to address the critical elements of fire ground survival. Information from the IAFF, IAFC, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), USFA, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the military was used to develop the five-part curriculum:

  1. Mayday Prevention

  2. Being Ready for the Mayday

  3. Self-Survival Procedures.

  4. Self-Survival Skills

  5. Fire Fighter Expectations of Command During a Mayday

Successful completion of this course requires the study of actual near misses and fatalities to reinforce the curriculum. Students listen to presentations, view videos of simulated Mayday incidents and read documentation supporting how best to prevent a Mayday, as well as how best to prepare for and handle an actual Mayday.

In addition, students learn the specific actions a fire fighter must perform to assure the highest degree of survivability when things on the fire ground go wrong, as well as the specific actions the incident commander, dispatchers and others on the fire ground must take to assist in the fire fighter's rescue.

Mastery of the concepts are evaluated using a post-test for each section. This Fire Ground Survival awareness course is a pre-requisite for participation in the Fire Ground Survival Instructor Training (Train-the-Trainer/TtT) Course. Information regarding this course will be available soon.

Click here to begin the IAFF Fire Ground Survival Awareness Course. 

For more information, contact the IAFF Department of Occupational Health, Safety and Medicine at (202) 737-8484.

 

Dear Affiliate Leader:

Last night, the U.S. Senate passed a version of the War Supplemental Appropriation. Regrettably, all House-passed domestic amendments which were included in the House version sent to the Senate were stripped out, including our collective bargaining proposal.

In previous Senate action, a War Supplemental was passed that also included funds for Gulf Coast relief and assistance to Haiti to deal with the devastating earthquake. When that measure was sent to the House, it was amended by House leadership to include a number of Democratic priorities, including our collective bargaining proposal.

Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) brought the House-passed version of the Supplemental to the floor last night about 10:30 p.m. The decision to deal with the Supplemental was not made until earlier in the evening last night. The House version that Reid brought forth included our language. The cloture motion to proceed with debate and vote on the House Supplemental was defeated by a vote of 46-51. The 46 affirmative votes were all Democratic senators while a united GOP Conference and a handful of Democrats voted in opposition. Click here for the vote tally.

As we previously communicated, all parties recognized that the House version in its current form would not achieve cloture. The original plan was that after the original House version failed cloture to find areas in which both parties could agree and work on a compromise proposal to move as the final Supplemental. Everyone was aware that the GOP was intent on reducing the domestic spending portions of the House-passed bill before agreeing to a final vote on the Supplemental.

Against that backdrop, Leader Reid tried to fashion a compromise with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to allow our bargaining proposal to be considered as an amendment. Unfortunately, Senator McConnell objected.  Reid then tried to work with Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) to find another path for consideration. Gregg was anxious to help our efforts, along with our other five GOP co-sponsors. However, Gregg and his colleagues would not, nor could we expect them to, turn against their leadership on the procedural issues he was objecting to on an emergency supplemental bill to fund the troops. Senator McConnell held firm that there would be no agreement unless all amendments were subject to full debate. This would have doomed the entire supplemental because of the time required to dispose of amendments. This process could literally have taken weeks on the Senate floor to accomplish and would deprive the troops of needed funding.

Ultimately, the Senate voted to "disagree" with the House version of the bill. What that means is that the original Senate bill for war funding, the Gulf Coast and Haiti now goes back before the House. Consequently, the House Leadership has three options: (1) refuse to act and inform the Senate that they cannot pass the Senate bill; (2) pass the Senate version as is, which exclusively funds the War efforts, Haiti and Gulf Coast relief and doesn't include any other domestic amendments; or (3) again make further amendments to the Senate bill and send it back to the Senate for further consideration.

At this point, no one knows how the House will react. We do know that the president is intent on getting the Supplemental passed as soon as possible.

This morning at 8:45 a.m., I received a call from Majority Leader Reid. He first re-affirmed his total commitment to passing our collective bargaining bill in this Congress. While he shares our disappointment that GOP leadership blocked consideration on the Supplemental, he agrees that we needed to make that effort. The Leader recognizes that winning final passage is the ultimate objective. He is resolute in his desire to ensure our proposal is signed into law.

Reid also recognized the efforts of Senator Judd Gregg, but lamented that Republican Leader McConnell refused any and all attempts to reach a middle ground. He reiterated that the GOP caucus was united on all procedural issues. He went further and said that his final proposal to McConnell had stripped all of the major spending initiatives out of the bill and included only our collective bargaining piece, border security and other non-deficit increasing measures, but the GOP Leader still objected. So, in the face of that opposition, there was no choice but to remand the issue back to the House.

During our discussion, Reid went on to say that he will continue to look for additional opportunities to move the bill. He also said that he will work with Senator Gregg but acknowledged that, at some point, especially if this is ultimately moved as a free standing bill, our GOP allies will have to vote against McConnell if he continues to object. At that time, no one can hide, and we will know who is really willing to stand with this IAFF.
I will be working with Reid, Senate Leadership, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Hoyer and House leadership to find a mechanism to get this bill passed and signed into law. 

There are no guarantees in this world, especially, not in this Congress, but we still have reason to be optimistic.  Speaker Pelosi has already proven that she will do what it takes to get this done. In the Senate, there isn't a better bi-partisan combination than Leader Reid and Senator Gregg. Collectively, with our tenacity and their commitment, I believe that we will succeed.

There's no question that this is a step back; however, we are not going to give up our quest. We will continue to fight for passage and I need all of you to do the same. This battle is not over. We can win this fight and I am still convinced that we will.


Fraternally,


Harold A. Schaitberger
General President



 

Dear IAFF Member:

We are painfully aware of the limitless media attention focused on your pensions. It seems to be coming from every media venue in every part of the country covering both large and small markets -- most with negative and misleading information framing your hard-earned retirement benefits as excessive or generous gifts from the local government.

The effects of the recession on profits from pension fund investments have revealed the failure of many local governments to keep up with their required contributions. Many public officials chose to take pension holidays while riding the wave of investment profits and now they and the media are shifting the blame to you. Consequently, the public, who have limited or no understanding of public pension systems are jumping on this band-wagon and pushing for actions that could be detrimental to you, as well as future fire fighters and paramedics.

We are putting many resources in place to help you with this fight locally, and you will hear about additional opportunities for resources at the upcoming 2010 Convention. However, I want to inform you of an existing threat to your pension systems that will likely add fuel to the claims of public officials as they attempt to alter your pensions to reduce their liability. This threat comes from changes to pension accounting standards that will be released in the next few months. These changes will alter the way local and state governments account and report liabilities for pension plans. 

Pension accounting and financial reporting standards are prepared and released by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) -- much like fire service standards are prepared and released by NFPA. These standards, though voluntary, are recognized by governments, the accounting industry and the capital markets as the official source of generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for state and local governments. Compliance with GASB's standards is enforced through the laws of some individual states and through the audit process when auditors render opinions on the fairness of financial statement presentations in conformity with GAAP. 

The two GASB standards relevant to pension plan accounting are GASB Statement No. 25 Financial Reporting for Defined Benefit Pension Plans and Note Disclosures for Defined Contribution Plans and GASB Statement No. 27 Accounting for Pensions by State and Local Governmental Employers. You may view the proposed changes to these standards at the links below.

GASB Posts Aids to Understanding Pension PV
The GASB issued a Preliminary Views, Pension Accounting and Financial Reporting by Employers. To help readers understand this document and the accompanying plain-language supplement, the GASB has posted a number of materials to its web site, including a video, fact sheet, and a plain-language article.

The IAFF has monitored these proposed changes as they were being prepared and have secured the required expertise to submit comments during the public comment period.  The comment period deadline is September 17, 2010.  Once again, you may view the proposed standard changes and read more about GASB at this link.

Pension Accounting and Financial Reporting by Employers
Preliminary Views

Plain-Language Supplement (financial statement users; preparers, auditors, and actuaries should respond to the Preliminary Views)

I want to personally assure you that we will do everything possible to protect you and the security of your future benefits.


Fraternally,


Harold A. Schaitberger
General President



 

Brothers and Sisters,

With a health care reform deal announced loudly in the media between "labor," the administration and Congress on changes to the excise tax provision, I want to provide you a new update today that outlines some of the key elements of that deal and what we know about the potential impact they will have on each and every one of you.

From Day One, we forcefully argued that the excise tax was bad policy and bad politics and that it had no place in any health care reform bill. Not once did we waver from that argument.

Our message was heard and we believe had a significant impact on what ultimately came out of the negotiations between representatives of the labor movement, the administration and Congress.

We believe we can say with confidence that our constant and consistent message resulted in significant changes to the excise tax provision of the reform bill that the House and Senate now must finish debate on and send to the president.

I don't want to overstate this, but suffice it to say that our hard opposition to the excise tax convinced negotiators to agree to new provisions that, while they fall short of our goal of eliminating the excise tax, these changes do effectively eliminate the burden of additional taxes that would have fallen on our members had the tax remained unaltered.

Based on the initial information we have received from the AFL-CIO on the changes to the excise tax provision, we know that:

  • Every health plan covering our members is exempt from the tax until 2018, based on new provisions that collectively bargained health benefits will be exempt from the tax until 2018, as would the benefits of all state and local municipal worker plans even if not collectively bargained;

  • The threshold for the tax to kick in on family plans has been raised from $23,000 to $24,000 for all workers, and from $26,000 to $27,000 for our members;

  • The cost of dental and vision coverage will be excluded from the cost of the plans when determining if they rise above the threshold beginning in 2015;

  • Each year after 2013, the $27,000 threshold for our members will increase by the CPI + 1 percent and will rise even more in high cost states;

  • Further, if health care costs rise faster than expected prior to 2013, the initial thresholds will also be increased, as well.

While there's significantly more to the deal than just these initial bullets, and we are going to do a full and complete analysis over the coming days, we have not been able to identify a single IAFF member's health care plan that would or will be subject to the excise tax based on these new provisions scheduled to take effect in 2018.

We know there's a lot more to go in the political process before this bill is finally approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the President, but we are pleased that our efforts to protect our members from a severe economic penalty appear to have made a significant impact on what we are told will be in the final legislation.

We will update all of you as more details of the bill emerge.



Fraternally,


Harold A. Schaitberger
General President



 

Brothers and Sisters,

We are fully aware of the media reports this afternoon that there has been a deal reached between "labor," the White House and Congressional leaders on the excise tax in the health care reform legislation being debated.

On a conference call with the AFL-CIO Executive Council just minutes ago, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka provided a report that outlined that purported "deal."

Let me state right here that this IAFF was not afforded an opportunity to be a part of the labor committee that participated in negotiations with the White House and Congressional leaders over the changes that are being reportedly made to the excise tax provision in the bill.

On Monday, January 11, in a conference call with the Executive Committee of the AFL-CIO, conducted prior to the first meetings between the labor committee and the White House, I made it very clear to the union leaders who were selected by Trumka to go into those private discussions that our union was fully and completely opposed to any excise tax because it would either force a tax on the premiums of our members or force their health benefits to be cut. I was the only member of the AFL-CIO Executive Committee to take that position and our position was widely covered in the media over the past week.

In addition, as late as 1:30 p.m. this afternoon (January 14), I was one of four labor presidents invited to speak before the House Leadership and Democratic Caucus. At that event, I was the only speaker who, in very clear and emphatic terms, strongly reiterated that this IAFF remains completely opposed to an excise tax. I reaffirmed that this is bad policy and bad politics.

While the reports of the "deal" appear to show that the thresholds have increased and that state and local governments may have received a multi-year exemption, which should serve to ease the burden on our members, I still find it unacceptable that a form of the excise tax remains in the bill.

Internally, we will be analyzing the affects of any changes to the excise tax provision once they are formally released. Rest assured that this union will continue to fight the excise tax so that it doesn't affect any of our members and we will continue to update you as this process moves forward.

Fraternally,


Harold A. Schaitberger
General President



 

SAFER Extends Lifeline to U.S. Fire Departments

These are truly challenging economic times.  Faced with cuts to fire department budgets, our members are being asked to give up pay raises, pay more for health benefits and confront company and stations closures, brownouts and layoffs.

In Washington, we made it a priority to have federal funding dedicated to fire departments to keep our members safe and on the job. Working with the Obama administration and congressional leaders, we were successful in proposing and passing legislation to waive existing requirements to allow Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants to be used to rehire laid-off fire fighters and prevent future staffing reductions. These changes are especially significant during this economic crisis that has caused widespread layoffs of IAFF members across the country.

I strongly urge affiliates to work with their fire departments to apply for SAFER money. As we all know, adequate staffing is critical to effective response and fire fighter and public safety. The new SAFER guidelines will apply to the $210 million that Congress approved for SAFER for Fiscal Year 2009, and we are already working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop the rules to address the current wave of staffing cuts.

The IAFF wrote and lobbied for the new provision -- which was included in HR 2346, the Supplemental Appropriation bill – and will ensure that the rules relax and eliminate much of the bureaucracy so that troubled departments can get grants quickly to bring back laid-off fire fighters and fill staffing positions that have remained vacant.

Additionally, we are focused on eliminating many of the issues that prevented departments from applying for SAFER grants under the old rules so that funds obtained to fix problems and grant money used to expand departments will be less encumbered, as well. To that end, we will discuss issues such as potentially eliminating the match requirement and the money jurisdictions were required to come up with for maintenance of the grant in the old rules, as well as possibly raising the cap, among a number of other issues.

We have prepared Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that help explain what the changes mean for your fire department and provide a potential timeline for the new rules to be in place so your department can begin applying for the grants.

 –Harold Schaitberger, IAFF General President


 

Dear Affiliate Leader,

We are aware of the National League of Cities release of a piece of propaganda by a management consulting firm, TriData, that claims there is no relationship between fire fighting and certain cancers.  The NLC has worked against every single piece of presumptive legislation that protects fire fighters and their families.

The NLC’s paper is clearly bought and paid-for.  We are preparing a detailed response that you will be able to use with legislators in the event the NLC’s propaganda is introduced as an attempt at a legitimate argument against presumptive cancer coverage. 


Fraternally,


Harold A. Schaitberger
General President



 

IAFF Affiliate Leaders:

We find ourselves in an unfortunate situation this week. On Friday night we were notified via email, as all deposit holders were, that the FDIC has taken over the operations of Waterfield Bank in order to protect the insured depositors. This situation occurred due to Waterfield Bank’s inability to meet the regulatory capitalization requirements. It is clear that we would prefer that this had not occurred and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause for our members and affiliates.

On Saturday, we provided all depositors with an email address with an initial communication assuring them that their deposits were secure and would be available for immediate use when the FDIC-managed bank opened on March 8. A second email communication was sent last night with additional information on how to close accounts and transfer deposits to another institution.

It was reconfirmed on Monday morning that all deposits for all of our account holders (including the IAFF and IAFF-FC) are covered and are immediately available to be transferred to another bank of their choice. Online access is also available and account holders can log on and request that their accounts be closed and a check sent to them through the secure “bank-mail” system. Alternatively, they can use the online wire transfer request form to move their deposits. We have personally confirmed that these processes are working.

This situation is certainly a disappointment and will cause some inconvenience. However, I am proud that of the way we have handled our members' and affiliates' accounts, protecting them so not one single penny of their funds were at risk and are now available to them for transfer.

The service and the operations for the IAFF-FC Banking Center were provided and owned by Waterfield Financial. When Waterfield Bank was unable to raise the increased capital requirements imposed by the regulators for all financial institutions, the FDIC took over both Waterfield Bank and Waterfield Financial. There are no other organizations that owned the software and service model to enable the IAFF-FC Banking Center concept to move to another banking institution. Therefore, as of April 5, the IAFF-Banking Center will cease to be offered as a program.

The viability of the IAFF-FC remains very strong in all other program areas, including our deferred compensation program, our mortgage program, our auto and home insurance programs, and our insurance protection programs. All are fully operational and the program providers are financially stable. The IAFF-FC business model is sound and our financial situation is strong, with no debt and substantial cash reserves.

If you need further information or have additional questions, contact Carrie Tucker at (202) 737-1125 or email ctucker@iaff-fc.com.


Fraternally,


Harold A. Schaitberger
General President


 

New Secure Online Resource: Critical Information for IAFF Leadership

You are on the frontlines facing the economic crisis -- faced with cuts to your fire department budget, being asked to give up pay raises, pay more for health benefits and make other sacrifices, and threatened with company and stations closures, brownouts and layoffs.
To help you, the IAFF has developed a "Surviving the Economic Crisis" toolkit, a comprehensive online resource of strategic planning guidance, wage, benefit and contract databases, links to NFPA and health and safety regulations, quick access to IAFF expert assistance and other critical information you need to protect your members.

To access the toolkit, you will be authenticated through the IAFF database using your IAFF username and password (if you don't have one, you will have the opportunity to create one) as serving in a position of leadership within your IAFF affiliate.

If you have not already completed one, as you enter the web site for the first time, you will be asked to take a short, six-question survey to gather critical data about the effects the financial crisis is having and has had on your local since September 1, 2008.

We need this information as we continue to work for dedicated funding for fire departments specifically targeted to keep our members on the job. We are currently working directly with the White House and congressional leaders to make this happen. We will provide updates as they are available



 

Get the Facts on Health Care Reform

After decades of debate and months of back and forth in Congress, on March 23, President Obama signed historic health insurance reform legislation into law. 

The big question now is, what does health care reform mean for fire fighters?

The IAFF has developed the attached health care reform fact sheet with important information about what the new health care reform law means for you and your family. 

The fact sheet is also available online


 

Brothers and Sisters,

With the Senate’s decision today on reconciliation of the health care reform bill, I want to provide some perspective on the year-long effort.

I believe that one of the most important elements of the reform bill is that the excise tax will not affect you – not today, not tomorrow and not in the future. We stood our ground because we knew we were right. Due in large part to our strong, consistent opposition, the excise tax was modified repeatedly and watered down drastically.

No matter where you stand on the larger reform effort, please know that we worked very hard to insulate you from that unfair tax, and we were successful. Despite what you may have heard, despite the dire warnings and misstatements, fire fighters will keep their current health care and their taxes will not go up.

Here are a few key points: The excise tax:

  • Has been scaled back significantly and won’t even take effect until 2018
  • Was modified so it will apply only to those with the richest plans – $10,200 for an individual and $27,500 for families
  • The tax threshold for health plans that cover fire fighters and others in high-risk professions is even higher – $11,850 for individuals and $30,950 for families
  • Will not be applied to dental or vision coverage

While we focused on the excise tax, that is just one element of a broad legislative overhaul, and the truth is there are many changes in the bill that we can support. The major changes ensure that:

  • Health care coverage is extended to an additional 32 million Americans
  • Ever-rising health care costs will be contained

The reforms also have major implications for the fire service. We all know we can’t afford to continue serving as the primary health care provider for people without insurance, and expanding coverage to the uninsured will help address budget shortfalls at fire department nationwide.

The bill also outlaws some of the worst practices that insurance companies have engaged in. Under the new law:

  • Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage because someone has a pre-existing condition
  • Insurance companies are required to cover the full cost of preventative care, including annual physicals and children’s immunizations
  • Insurance companies are required to cover dependent children until they are 26

Changes to Medicare also are important because we have members who one day may enroll in that program. Those changes ensure that:

  • The Medicare drug benefit for senior citizens is expanded, and effective July 1, will provide a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs for the low-income elderly
  • The gap known as the “doughnut hole” in Medicare prescription drug coverage will gradually close and provide the estimated three million senior citizens who fall into that hole a $250 rebate
  • Medicare will be overhauled so it delivers health care to senior citizens more efficiently and at a lower price

The reform effort has addressed many of the monumental problems afflicting health care in our country for too long. By substantially watering down the excise tax, extending health care coverage to many of the uninsured, improving Medicare for senior citizens and reining in insurance companies, we corrected some of the worst elements of our health care system.

We also know the bill is not perfect and more needs to be done. But this is a good start to improve the delivery of health care, access to health care and to contain costs.

The health care system had become unsustainable, and allowing this crisis to continue was not a realistic option. A recent report by the Government Accountability Office found that the long-term fiscal outlook for state and local governments is very bleak, entirely due to rising health care costs. Even if the economy makes a strong, sudden recovery, health care costs would force cities to continue making deep cuts in fire department budgets.

These changes will help address that crisis.


Fraternally,




Harold A. Schaitberger
General President


 

New Guidance Addresses Economic Challenges

In addition to extending the FY 2009 application period for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants to January 15, 2010, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has made other changes to the 2009 grant guidance that further address the difficult economic circumstances that some municipalities are still experiencing. The new guidance:

  • Eliminates the financial risk for municipalities that want to use SAFER grants to bring back laid-off fire fighters or restore reductions in force but are reluctant to apply because of fears that if the economy worsens, they would be unable to maintain staffing levels or subsequently reimburse FEMA for the value of the grant. Jurisdictions that lose fire fighters through retirement, separation from service or calls to active duty in the Army Reserves or National Guard during the grant period will not be required to reimburse FEMA for the SAFER grant. Instead, their SAFER funds will be reduced by the number of positions they are unable to fill.

  • Allows jurisdictions that have vacated fire fighter positions during the grant period that are unable to fill those vacant positions due to further economic hardship to petition DHS for a waiver. If the waiver is granted, the jurisdiction would maintain all the positions that were awarded in the grant. The waiver would only apply to positions lost through attrition -- not to further layoffs. In the absence of a waiver, the policies stated in the new guidance addressed above would still apply.

  • Removes the requirement to maintain the positions past the period of performance for awards made to rehire vacated or laid-off fire fighters.

Applicants that have already submitted applications can amend the application given this new policy guidance and extended application period. Contact the Assistance to Firefighters Help Desk at 1-866-274-0960.

Program guidance and applications for SAFER funding are available through the Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE Act) grant program web site. The IAFF encourages affiliates to share this guidance with their fire departments and take advantage of the opportunity to apply for risk-free SAFER grants. 

For additional information or assistance, contact Jennifer Stewart at (202) 824-8631 or jstewart@iaff.org.



 

Help Keep the IAFF Labor Information Database Current

Effective December 1, 2009, IAFF affiliates must comply with a new policy regarding the IAFF Labor Information Database, an online resource that includes a Model Contract Clause Database, Online Contract Library and a Wage/Salary Database.

The terms of the new policy are:

  • Each affiliate is required to send a new wage schedule, memorandum of understanding or collective agreement to the IAFF no more than 90 days following the expiration date of what is currently on file.

  • Exceptions will be granted for affiliates in negotiations, arbitration or that have other issues which make the expired agreement the most current. Exception requests can be sent to mshaffer@iaff.org.

  • Affiliates without a current wage schedule, memorandum of understanding or collective agreement on file, or an approved exception on file will be denied access to the Labor Information Database effective 90 days after the expiration of their schedule, memorandum of understanding or collective agreement on file.

The IAFF will notify affiliate officers by email one week before their wage schedule, memorandum of understanding or collective agreement expiration to request an updated wage schedule, memorandum of understanding or collective agreement be sent within 90 days. If no update or exception is received after 30 days, the IAFF will send a second email notice to remind affiliate leaders of the 90-day deadline. 

If no update or exception has been received after 90 days, affiliates will no longer be granted access to the Labor Information Database.

Send salary schedules, memorandums of understanding or collective bargaining agreements to mshaffer@iaff.org

The Labor Information Database was developed in 2007 to provide affiliate leaders with key information on wages and working conditions. In order to continue to provide current data to be used in negotiations, arbitration and other meetings with local decision-makers, this online resource needs to be kept current.  

Access to the Labor Information Database will continue to be available only to affiliates that have provided the IAFF with a copy of their current salary schedule, memorandum of understanding or collective bargaining agreement.

The new policy was developed in partnership with the Federation of State and Provincial Professional Fire Fighters Association to ensure the Labor Information Database contains current contract terms
.


 

Take Action on Health Care Reform 
Tell Congress Not to Tax Your Benefits
 

The IAFF is joining the AFL-CIO for a National Week of Action on health care reform. The activities kick off November 5 with an ad campaign focusing on finding a fair way to pay for health care reform. The ads will appear in Politico, Roll Call, The Hill and The Washington Post and highlight the U.S. House health care bill as a model for reform.

The IAFF has been lobbying against a plan in the U.S. Senate to tax so-called "Cadillac" health insurance plans. This excise tax would assess a tax on high-value insurance plans and would likely affect many IAFF members' plans that cost more -- not because they offer more generous benefits but because of the dangers of the job or other factors that are more costly. 

The IAFF is working to ensure that this excise tax will not be enacted when a final health care bill is signed into law. 

In October, IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger spoke at a press conference on Capitol Hill calling for Congress to seek alternative sources of revenue. Watch the press conference.

The IAFF is urging its members to contact their U.S. Senator and tell them to leave this excise tax out of the health care reform bill. The goal is to have one million union members write or call Congress. 

Call Congress today at 1-877-323-5246 or (202) 224-3121.

Click here for more information on the Week of Action. 

 

Excise Tax on Health Insurance Will Hurt Fire Fighters

As an IAFF affiliate leader, you know all too well that health care costs are rising out of control and that escalating insurance premiums are diminishing wages and other benefits. Affordable health insurance is also a growing need among retired fire fighters who often lose coverage under employer-paid plans when they separate from service.

While the health care debate on Capitol Hill remains contentious, the IAFF is committed to fighting on its members' behalf for health care reform that protects the benefit plans our members have and reduces the costs both to our members and their employers.

The plan now being proposed by the Senate Finance Committee would assess a 40 percent tax on high-value insurance plans -- a tax that would hit many IAFF members' plans, which cost more because of the dangers associated with their jobs, not necessarily because they offer more generous benefits.

The IAFF strongly opposes this or any health care reform bill that imposes an excise tax on insurance companies because those excise taxes are likely to be passed on to IAFF members, and is lobbying tirelessly against the Senate Finance Committee plan to tax so-called "Cadillac" health insurance plans to finance health care overhaul.

IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger spoke at a press conference on Capitol Hill October 7 calling for Congress to seek alternative sources of revenue. "The tax could become similar to the alternative minimum tax (AMT) and trap more and more middle class taxpayers each year under the Finance Committee plan," he said.

Watch the press conference

Related Articles:

House Labor Allies Balk at Tax on Health Plans (CQ 10/07/09)

Unions pledge fight over excise tax (USA Today 10/07/09)

Labor Unions Plan Ads to Counter Baucus U.S. Health-Care Bill (Bloomberg.com 10/08/09)


 

Changes Will Allow Use of SAFER Grants to Retain Fire Fighters

President Barack Obama has approved the new rules that govern how fire departments can use funding from the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program. These changes are especially significant during the economic crisis that has caused widespread layoffs of IAFF members across the country.

The new guidelines will apply to the $210 million that Congress approved for SAFER for Fiscal Year 2009. The IAFF wrote and lobbied for the new provision that was included in HR 2346, the Supplemental Appropriation bill – which was initiated and supported by President Obama – to allow the use of SAFER grant funding to rehire laid-off fire fighters and prevent fire department staffing reductions as a result of the current financial crisis.

With its passage, the bill grants Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano the discretion to waive the rules governing the current SAFER program and make funds available to save IAFF members’ jobs. The IAFF will immediately begin working with DHS to develop new rules that outline how SAFER grants can be used to address the current wave of staffing cuts.

“Changes in this supplemental appropriation extend a lifeline to fire departments across the nation at a time when fire fighters are losing their jobs,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “Adequate staffing is the most critical component to effective response and civilian and fire fighter safety.”

SAFER provides money for all departments to increase staffing. The funding is available to all fire departments. Under the original law, passed in 2004, communities could only receive a SAFER grant if they planned to increase fire department staffing levels. Fire fighters hired with SAFER grants had to be retained for at least five years and fire departments couldn’t reduce staffing levels during this period. Those restrictions have combined to prohibit fire departments from using SAFER grants to prevent layoffs, and have discouraged fire departments from applying for SAFER grants during this current economic recession.

The rule changes approved by the president eliminate the language that has prevented using this money to alleviate the need to lay off a fire fighter. In addition, President Obama is proposing $420 million for SAFER in his Fiscal Year 2010 budget.

The IAFF has prepared Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that help explain what the changes mean for your fire department and provide a potential timeline for the new rules to be in place so your department can begin applying for the grants.


 

NYC Mayor Says No Rank and Affiliation on 9/11 Memorial
Tell Bloomberg that FDNY fire fighters deserve proper recognition

The National September 11 Memorial Foundation has informed Michael Burke and other families of FDNY fire fighters killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks that ranks and affiliation will not be included on the Memorial Wall in New York City because New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, chair of the Memorial Foundation Board, believes such distinctions will cause visitors to mourn the death of the plane's captain or a fire captain more than the death of the plane's passengers or the civilian the fire fighter was trying to rescue.

"This is a disgrace," says IAFF 1st District Vice President Kevin Gallagher. "To not honor our fallen brothers with their rank is wrong. We cannot let their sacrifice go without the proper recognition for the courageous acts they performed."

Burke's brother, William F. Burke Jr., was a captain in Engine Co. 21. Michael requested to meet with the board about the decision to omit ranks and was told no. "This is a public entity supported by public funds. I am the voice of a guy who gave his life on 9/11, but I cannot meet with the board," writes Burke in his message, "Denying My Brother's Identity" posted on the FDNY web site. "I don’t know where any of them were on September 11."

The IAFF is encouraging members to send a loud and clear message to Mayor Bloomberg and the National September 11 Memorial and Museum Foundation that listing the rank and company affiliation of FDNY fire fighters who gave their lives that dark day is about honoring them and that disallowing it is inexcusable.

The sample letter below can be copied, pasted and sent to Mayor Bloomberg at joe@national911memorial.org. Please copy eNews@theBravest.com  or ranksmatter@hotmail.com for their records. National September 11 Memorial Museum CEO Joe Daniels can also be reached by phone at (212) 312-8800 or by FAX at (212) 227-7931.

For more information, click here.


Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Chairman
National September 11 Memorial and Museum Foundation

Mr. Joseph Daniels
President/CEO
National September 11 Memorial and Museum


Dear Mayor Bloomberg,

Why aren't the ranks of those killed in the 9/11 terrorists attacks being included on the memorial wall at the National September 11th Memorial in New York City?

We are told it is because the Memorial Foundation Board, chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, believes these distinctions would cause visitors to mourn the death of the plane's captain or a fire captain more than the death of the plane's passengers or the civilian the fire fighter was
trying to rescue.

To Mayor Bloomberg and the Board, we say that is not only wrong it is insulting. It is not Mayor Bloomberg's nor the Foundation Board's place to dictate to America what visitors should know of 9/11 when they visit the World Trade Center site in order to control what they should think and feel. It is only our place at this historic place to recognize what happened here, to faithfully preserve and convey the meaning, magnitude and impact of the attacks and confront the evil that men are capable of and the destruction and the death they cause and, in response, the sacrifice.

The memorial must speak to future generations as equally as it does to us. As such, the 406 first responders at the World Trade Center, the military personal at the Pentagon and the flight crews who died in service to their city, their country and humanity on 9/11 must be identified by the rank they earned with
their lives.

The world is coming to the site for 9/11, not a lesson in contemporary notions of political correctness from Mayor Bloomberg and anonymous board members. History demands it; honor demands it and we demand it.

Your Name
Your Address
Your Phone

 

 

U.S. Supreme Court Reverses Lower Court Decision in Ricci v. DeStefano Case

Eighteen New Haven, Connecticut, fire fighters who filed suit in federal court against the City of New Haven after the City threw out the results of promotional exams prevailed over the City today when the United States Supreme Court, by a 5-4 vote, reversed a lower court’s decision. 
 
In the case, Ricci v. DeStefano, the Supreme Court ruled that the City of New Haven could not throw out the results of a promotional exam simply because it feared the outcome of a test could potentially leave it vulnerable to lawsuits from minority fire fighters who did not qualify for promotion as a result of a test, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
 
The IAFF recognizes that promotional systems are developed locally, where virtually every fire department in the country uses its own, unique system to best fit the needs of that community and its fire department. The IAFF also recognizes the fact that a variety of valid promotional testing processes have been developed that place emphasis on different elements of the testing procedure – including written and oral testing, seniority, table top scenarios, efficiency ratings and job-related skills, to name a few. 
 
“Fire fighting involves life and death situations on a regular basis, so any system that is used to hire or promote must be completely unbiased and ensure that candidates are truly qualified to do the job,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “It’s a tough balancing act for jurisdictions in developing their procedures, but they have a responsibility not to fail on either account because lives are at stake.”
 
In addition, the IAFF supports and advocates for unbiased, job-related, validated hiring and promotional systems for fire fighters on the basis of their skill and ability in the technical and demanding work of fire fighting and emergency response without regard to race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or national origin.
 
In the New Haven case, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the lower courts, saying that the City could not throw out the results of a promotional test based on “fear of litigation alone.” The City believed that applying the test scores would result in a disparate impact on minority test takers who did not qualify for promotion based on the test results. 
 
The Court further said that “absent a strong basis in evidence that the tests were deficient and that discarding the results is necessary to avoid violating the disparate impact provision,” the results could not be thrown out.
 
The case has been remanded back to federal district court to determine final action consistent with the decision of the Supreme Court.
 
The IAFF will be preparing a more detailed analysis of the ruling and will post it once it’s completed.


 

Frequently Asked Questions
Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant Program

The IAFF is working with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish the new guidelines for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants to make funding available to rehire fire fighters who were laid off, bring back positions that are not being filled and to prevent further reductions in staffing that have resulted from the current financial crisis.

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below provide the basics of what we know right now and a potential timeline for the new rules to be in place so your department can begin applying for the grants.

These FAQs can also be downloaded as a PDF file.

What is SAFER?

What does the new bill do?

The old rules were too restrictive, how will the new rules help?

Where does the bill stand now?

When will the application period begin?

What should I do in the meantime?

I already have a SAFER grant. How will the changes affect me?

Where can I find updated information on the status of the bill and the application process?


What is SAFER?
The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program was created to provide funding to fire departments to hire additional fire fighters to help ensure compliance with staffing, response and operational standards established by NFPA and OSHA. For more information, click here.

What does the new SAFER bill do?
Under the original law, passed in 2004, communities could only receive a SAFER grant if they planned to increase fire department staffing levels, committed to retaining SAFER-funded hires for at least five years, and pledged not to reduce staffing levels during that period.

That is changing under the new law. The IAFF wrote and lobbied for the new provision that was included in HR 2346, the Supplemental Appropriation bill – which was initiated and supported by President Obama – to allow the use of SAFER grant funding to rehire laid-off fire fighters and prevent fire department staffing reductions that occurred as a result of the current financial crisis.

With its passage, the bill grants Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano the discretion to waive the rules governing the current SAFER program and make funds available to save IAFF members' jobs. So if your department has had layoffs or reductions in force through attrition, you should apply for SAFER funds once the new rules are written to get those fire fighters back on the job and fill the spots that were lost. 

The IAFF is working with DHS to establish guidelines for how SAFER grants can be used to address the current wave of staffing cuts. The new guidelines will apply to the $210 million that Congress approved for SAFER for Fiscal Year 2009, as well as the $420 million that Congress is expected to approve for Fiscal Year 2010.

The old rules were too restrictive, how will the new rules help?
Keep in mind that our talks with DHS and the Office of Management and Budget on changing the rules are similar to negotiating a deal.  We will work to make all of the changes possible that will enable struggling departments to get money quickly to bring back fire fighters, and we are working to fix the problems that prevented departments from applying for SAFER grants in the past.  However, we won't have specifics on what exactly has changed until those talks are finished and the federal government issues the new rules.

That said, knowing that many departments didn't apply for SAFER grants under the old rules, we are focused on fixing the problems.  In our discussions with Secretary Napolitano, we will be looking to accomplish a number of things:

  • Foremost, we will work to significantly relax the rules and eliminate much of the bureaucracy to assist troubled departments in getting grants quickly to bring back laid-off fire fighters and fill staffing positions that have remained vacant.
  • Additionally, we are focused on eliminating many of the issues that prevented departments from applying for SAFER grants under the old rules so that funds obtained to fix problems and grant money used to expand departments will be less encumbered, as well. To that end, we will discuss issues such as potentially eliminating the match requirement and the money jurisdictions were required to come up with for maintenance of the grant in the old rules, as well as possibly raising the cap, among a number of other issues.

Where does the bill stand now?
The bill is now on its way to the White House, and President Obama has promised that he will sign it. Once the act is signed into law, we expect a timeline of between 30-60 days (possibly by August 1) for DHS to issue the new guidelines for administering SAFER grants. The IAFF is meeting with DHS to help move this process along as quickly as possible.

When will the application period begin?
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano agreed to postpone the 2009 application process for SAFER grants until the new waiver authority is in place. This assures that the $210 million that Congress appropriated for SAFER can be applied to 2009 applications. The application period has historically opened in July, but it could be later this year. We expect the application process to being in early August, although that is not a certain date.

What should I do in the meantime?
Work with your fire chiefs and local lawmakers to prepare for the application process. Ultimately, management has to file for the grants, so start working with your department and city decision-makers to be ready to submit applications as soon as the application period is announced. 

I already have a SAFER grant. How will the changes affect me?
The changes under the new law will not affect existing SAFER grants. The changes are not retroactive.

Where can I find updated information on the status of the bill and the application process?
The IAFF will post information about the application period on the IAFF web site as soon as it is available. Affiliates will also be kept informed via e-mail news blasts, so make sure you have set up an account at www.iaff.org.


 

Senator Puts Taxing Health Benefits
"On the Table"

Immediate Action Needed to Avoid Tax Hike on Fire Fighters
Call Your Senators Today

The nation's professional fire fighters could see their federal taxes jump under a health care plan being pushed by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), who chairs the Senate committee that oversees tax policy on Capitol Hill.

Senator Baucus has stated and is fighting in support of a plan to tax employees on the value of their employer-provided health care to pay for an overhaul of the nation's health care system.

If you have health care insurance provided by your employer, as virtually every single IAFF member does, you will be disproportionately taxed by Senator Baucus's plan.

While President Obama campaigned strongly AGAINST such a plan, and has continued to indicate he does NOT support Senator Baucus's proposal to tax health benefits, the plan has support among a number of Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

We need your help and action immediately to fight Senator Baucus's plan! If enacted, the health care tax could cost you several thousand dollars a year.

"We need every IAFF member in the nation to call both of your senators today and tell them not to tax our health benefits," says IAFF General President Harold A. Schaitberger. "So far, senators are listening to economists and policy wonks rather than working Americans. While we are on the Hill telling the Senate this proposal is a huge mistake, we need your help to derail it. Please contact your senators today to let them know your displeasure with Senator Baucus's plan."

Call and email both of your senators with a simple message: 

"Don't support any health care plan that taxes health care benefits." 

The Senate switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. Simply call this number and ask to be transferred to your senator's office. 

Click here to send your senator an e-mail. 

 

 


As you know, the World Health Organization has raised its pandemic alert for H1N1 (swine) Flu to Phase 5, indicating that a global outbreak of the disease is imminent. It has advised all countries to immediately activate pandemic preparedness plans.  

To assist you in protecting our members, we have developed a tip sheet to give you some guidance when interacting with your department and members on the issue. We also have developed a sample letter reminding your chief, mayor, city manager, county executive – whoever you believe is the best person – that adhering to NFPA 1581 is the best way to ensure the health of our members during this threat.

For our members, we have also put together some resources to remind them to take the necessary precautions for responding safely and effectively during this outbreak.

To that end, on our web site is a Remember the Basics tip sheet, an Interactive Resource Guide and a comprehensive database of additional resources.

We will continue to update these resources as events warrant.

Stay safe.   


 


New Program Provides Training Support to IAFF Affiliates at No Cost
 

Have your department's training budgets been cut short? Need training but don't have enough instructors to deliver it? Do you have instructors who took the IAFF HazMat/WMD Train-the-Trainer (TtT), but haven't been able to put their skills to work? 

The IAFF has received an increase in funding from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to expand its current Train-the-Trainer model and provide Supportive Teaching Sessions (STS) for those who have completed one of the IAFF HazMat/WMD TtT courses. 

The economy is tough, and training budgets are quick to be cut, but this new initiative is available at no cost to IAFF affiliates.

After successfully completing a Train-the-Trainer course, the IAFF will provide up to two Supportive Teaching Sessions for instructors. Instructors who have completed a TtT, working through their affiliate president, will be assigned an IAFF master instructor, who will act as a mentor.  

Here's how it works...

Session One: An IAFF mentor will team teach with your local instructor. DOT funding for this project includes one IAFF master instructor, expenses and student materials for the program. Compensation for your local instructor will be covered by your respective department or organization. 

Session Two: Your local instructor will team teach with an IAFF master instructor, this time assuming more of a leading instructional role in the classroom. DOT funding for this project includes one IAFF master instructor and expenses. Compensation for the local instructor and student materials for the training program will be covered by your respective department or organization. 

During each session, the IAFF master instructor will observe the teaching skills of your local instructor and provide structured feedback intended to enhance his or her style and knowledge base. 

For more information, or to request a Supportive Teaching Session, contact the IAFF HazMat/WMD Department at (202) 737-8484.  



 


IAFF Continues to Work to Ensure Fire Fighter Pensions Remain Unchanged

At the urging of the IAFF and other public sector groups, the IRS has announced it will delay implementation of a regulation that would change the rules for determining pension eligibility.

Under a proposal issued last year, the IRS sought to do away with using years of service as a criteria to determine eligibility for a pension, seeking to replace it with a straight eligibility age.

The new regulation was scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2009, but after hearing about the serious disruptions this would create for public pension plans, the IRS postponed the effective date until January 1, 2011.

The IAFF will continue working with the IRS and its allies in Congress to assure that fire fighter pensions remain intact.

Read the IRS announcement.

Read previously published web story.


 


New Online Mini Drills Offer Hazard and Risk Analysis for Emergency Response

The IAFF has developed a series of online "Mini Drills" for responding to hazardous materials incidents. These Mini Drills give emergency responders an opportunity to practice their own jurisdiction's Standard Operating Procedures/Guidelines (SOPs/SOGs) to address issues present during a hazardous materials incident and evaluate their effectiveness. 

Each drill includes:

  • A Facilitator Guide

  • Photograph(s) or diagrams(s) from hazardous materials incidents

  • Incident information for each stage of the response process

  • Resource documents (e.g., Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for materials involved in the incident)

Each drill takes approximately 1.5 to two hours to complete. Mini Drills are accessible on the IAFF web site.

For more information, or to submit an incident for consideration, contact the IAFF HazMat/WMD Training Department at hazmat@iaff.org.


 

IAFF Releases Third Resource for the Labor Information Database

The Wage and Compensation Database, developed as the third resource in the IAFF Labor Information Database, is NOW AVAILABLE online.

This new resource makes a searchable wage/salary database available to leaders as needed, allowing users to develop a list of municipalities for comparative purposes using population and other geographical and demographic data. Demographic data contained within the Wage and Compensation Database is from the U.S. Census Bureau and Stat Canada. 

Users can develop their own list of jurisdictions, then prepare charts for the rank of fire fighter for years 1, 6, 11, 16 and 20 of service. Charts include information on base salary, longevity pay, scheduled hours of work, leave hours, holiday hours and personal hours.

The Labor Information Database, created in partnership with the Federation of State and Provincial Professional Fire Fighters, includes three online resources designed to give local leaders rapid access to key information through a password-protected web site.

The first product, the Collective Bargaining Agreement/Wage Schedule Library, is searchable by province or state, and was released in December 2007. IAFF affiliate leaders can search from more than 1,600 salary schedules, memorandums of understanding or contracts using this secure Library. 

A Model Contract Clause Database, developed as the second resource in the Labor Information Database, is searchable by clause type and links to the main Online Contract Library for easy reference -- from model clauses to full collective agreement language. Restricted to affiliate leaders, this Model Contract Clause Database is a valuable resource for local affiliates at the bargaining table and in informal talks with their employer.

Keep in mind that only those IAFF affiliates that have submitted their current salary schedule, memorandum of understanding or contract for inclusion in the database are able to gain access to this valuable resource. 

Don't be left out! Email your collective bargaining agreements, MOUs and salary schedules to mshaffer@iaff.org or mail to:

IAFF Labor Issues and Collective Bargaining
1750 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20006 


 

To:       All Local Presidents, Delegates and Members of the PFANJ

From:  Kevin Gallagher, IAFF 1st District Vice President

Date:   July 15, 2008

Subject:  IAFF Database

This month, the IAFF Database was expanded to include items which can be of great value to our union leadership when preparing for contract negotiations. One item is a section on our website called “Contract Language.” This section allows you to review contract language on any subject that may be part of your current contract, or items you may add to you future contracts. The site will give you 3 sample contract wordings on each of 70 + items listed for you to review. Anything from uniform allowance, to overtime, to drug and alcohol testing language. This could be of great assistance to you, in addition to saving money, by allowing you to come up with the proper wording without the need of an.

The second item is the “Wage Database.”  This permits the local membership to compare other municipalities base on demographics, population, or area.  For example, if your city has a population of 50,000, you could review the salaries and benefits of 10 cities of similar size. Now you will have something that you can use to compare benefits when seeking a contract with your city. This could be of great value to challenge the city’s numbers hopefully in your favor. 

Finally, this new site allows you to review the exact contracts of other cities in your district, as well as across the country. Any contract from Edison, NJ or Rochester, NY, to Los Angeles City to Maui, Hawaii. This can only be done by having the leadership of these cities forward you their respective contracts to the IAFF database.  If we have it, now you have it. 

This information can only be available to you and your local leadership directly, only if you have forwarded your current contract to Michele Shaffer at the IAFF Technical Services Department at IAFF headquarters. Then, and only then, will you have total access to this information. In our own district, less than half of our locals are currently up to date with their contract in database. Let’s make every effort to get your contracts into the IAFF to be placed in our database. Only then will you have total access, otherwise, the only way to get this information will be through the 1st District Vice President Kevin Gallagher. 

If you need any assistance in obtaining this information contact your respective PFANJ representative. It is very much in your local’s best interest to become a part of the IAFF database. Your will be better informed, and better prepared to deal with the constant battle with your municipalities in trying to get your members and their families what they truly deserve and what they truly deserve and that is a fair and equitable contract.


Fraternally,

Kevin Gallagher
I.A.F.F. 1st District Vice President


 


Surviving An Economic Crisis: A Hands-On Guide for
Local Leaders

How to prevent or minimize adverse actions on fire department budgets
and individual benefits

Download a Copy

It's becoming a familiar story that the current economic downturn is a major factor in creating fiscal  concerns among local and state governments across the United States. Headline after headline describes budget shortfalls and cost-cutting measures that force municipalities to cut services, including public safety departments and their employees.  

The Boston Globe reports, "Across Massachusetts, cities and towns face the prospect of deep cuts in what appears to be the grimmest fiscal year since 2003. Moreover, " local revenue and state aid can't keep up with such rapidly rising expenses as employee health insurance, heating oil and even street paving. Many " town and city officials face a difficult choice: cut staff and programs..."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes, "The city of Atlanta expects to fall short $120 million when it approves its next budget in June, which likely means 25 percent cuts for most city departments. The decrease comes as the city collects less money from sales tax, property taxes and other fees, while spending more on health insurance and pensions. Mayor Shirley Franklin and her staff are brainstorming ways the city can cut back on spending."

In Kansas, CBS affiliate WIBW-TV reports, "The Council adopted the 2008 budget with certain dictates to staff, including cutting overtime by 10 percent, cutting contracts and commodities by 3.2 percent, and cutting capital expenses and upgrades for a total...anticipated savings of $750,000. Some of the cuts include reducing callback overtime in the fire department by idling one or two engine companies when staffing drops below minimum levels."

These headlines and many more like them are appearing in local newspapers throughout the country, and yours could be the next to feel the budget squeeze. To help IAFF affiliates prepare for and prevent proposed cuts in staffing, health care benefits, compensation, pension plans and other areas as a result of an economic downturn, the IAFF has revised and published its “Surviving An Economic Crisis” guide. This hands-on guide includes advice and guidance to help affiliates understand how their respective local governments operate in order to evaluate the threat, identify resources and develop a strategy and plan to prevent or minimize adverse actions on fire department budgets and individual benefits.

Download “Surviving an Economic Crisis”
For more information, contact the IAFF Department of Labor Issues and Technical Assistance at (202) 824-1545.


 

 

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