14th District Vice President
Welcome from the 14th District to the delegates and guests assembled for the 2014 IAFF Convention. This report is submitted in accordance with the IAFF Constitution & By-Laws and includes activities through March 2014.
In representing the 14th District (Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee) I have attended all Executive Board meetings, Legislative Conferences, Redmond/EMS Symposiums, Human Relations Conferences, Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial services and Affiliate Leadership Training Summits since the last Convention.
It is an honor to represent this District and the entire IAFF membership on the IAFF Executive Board serving on the following committees: Budget & Finance, Canadian Affairs, Human Relations, Governmental & Political Affairs, Policy & Operational Procedures and a board member of IAFF Financial Corporation.
I have been assisted in servicing the affiliates by the 14th District Field Services Representatives Thomas Malone and Pete Reagan. Brothers Malone and Reagan have been involved in training seminars as well as organizing and assisting the locals with problems. They have also served as grant reviewers for the FIRE Act and SAFER grants. They continue to provide a valuable service to the District and the IAFF. Thanks to them for continued service and dedication to our members.
The 14th District continues to add new locals, and as of April 1, 2014, had 16,187 members in 183 locals. Every state in the District is Right to Work, and with the anti-union attitude of many of the political leaders at the state and local level, organizing and maintaining locals becomes more difficult.
Thanks to General President Schaitberger, General Secretary-Treasurer Miller and the IAFF staff for their continued support as we continue to assist affiliate leadership in their many battles. The staff continues to provide a very valuable and timely response to requests for service and information. On behalf of the 14th District, I want to thank all of you for the service you provide.
We have used the IAFF Guardian Policy in a number of cases, including a recent settlement in the case of St. Tammany Fire District 12 President Jamie Truett, who was fired twice and demoted over a four-year period. We have another case pending in St. Landry Parish. There is also a case still active concerning an Alabama law covering deduction for union dues. In late 2010 the legislature of Alabama changed the payroll deduction law by putting restrictions on locals involving political activity if a local had payroll deductions. This resulted in a federal lawsuit and the federal district judge granted our request for a temporary injunction. The state appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and they narrowed the injunction and submitted two questions to the Alabama Supreme Court, one defining “political activity” as it was written in the law. The Alabama Supreme Court agreed with our position that the definition used in the law was overly broad. The Federal Court of Appeals, to our surprise, ruled against us and now the case is pending a review by the full panel of judges in the 11th District Court of Appeals.
This anti-union legislation was introduced in Tennessee and some other states outside the District. Anti-union legislators also introduced other legislation in states to limit the ability of public employee unions to make political contributions, limit payroll deductions and limit informational picketing.
Pension reform has also been an issue in states and local jurisdictions. Currently, the city of Memphis is attempting to change from a defined benefit system to a defined contribution system with no provisions for line-of-duty disability or death. The IAFF pension department has been a valuable resource for our locals and states involved in these pension battles. The New Orleans pension system won a lawsuit seeking the legally mandated $17.5 million owed to the pension system, but has yet to receive the funds.
Public safety and our members’ safety continues to be compromised by staffing cuts, companies placed out of service and rolling company brownouts. Our locals are using the IAFF GIS studies to show these cuts are affecting response times and compromising the safety of the fire fighters. The IAFF Public Relations Department has been a valuable resource in developing our message on these issues.
It is not easy being a union member in the Fighting 14th District, but our locals, state associations and members continue to fight back against the attacks on their benefits from elected leaders in both parties. I am proud to have the privilege to represent the members of the District and all members of the IAFF. Stay safe and stand tall!