JAMES B. JOHNSON
16th District Vice President
As the Vice President of the 16th District, I have attended Executive Board meetings, Conferences, and other IAFF functions as required. I am presently serving on the following IAFF Executive Board Committees: Chairman of the Information and Technology Committee and as a member of the Legal Services, Government and Political Affairs, Education and Training, Policy and Operations and Communications, Media and Public Affairs Committees. I also serve as the Chairman of the IAFF Standing Committee on Wildland Fire Fighting.
I have focused on improving our communication, educating our leadership, lobbying for the IAFF’s legislative agenda and providing advice and technical assistance to our federal affiliates. The last two years have presented many challenges for the 16th District. Nonetheless, we have accepted the challenges and as a team we continue to move the district in a positive direction with purpose and conviction.
Our District Field Service Representatives and our Service Representatives within the District will continue to provide on-site assistance and training for our local affiliate leaders, as we continue to move toward the goal of empowering leaders with the tools they need to represent their members. At the 2014 Affiliate Leadership Training Summit, we conducted an all-day training session on federal sector bargaining and labor relations, and the feedback from this training from those that attended was excellent.
The IAFF and the District continue work on the Hill with congressional staff. Obviously, there continue to be a number of attacks on federal employees coming out of Congress. There are efforts to reduce or eliminate official time used for representational purposes and continuing efforts to increase retirement contributions, just to name a few. The IAFF is actively involved in opposing these attacks that not only impact all federal employees, but IAFF federal members directly. Concurrently, we will continue to educate Congress on the importance of passing the federal presumptive issue and federal trade time equality.
The District also continues to participate in several federal employees’ forums, such as the Federal Postal Coalition, the United Defense Workers Coalition and the Federal Workers Alliance providing valuable input regarding federal employee issues and policy.
In 2013, as federal fire fighters were threatened with potential staffing reductions due to furloughs, information was provided to the locals regarding staffing grievances for locals that needed to take action. The District remains prepared to assist with arbitration matters related to these grievances. Although many federal agencies want to assume risk and reduce safe practices on the backs of our members, this District will remain steadfast in our position of maintaining safe staffing and response criteria.
While it is obvious that our District is constantly confronted with perilous attacks from many political fronts, it is clear that the IAFF and the 16th District I proudly represent remain ready and willing to protect the interests of the federal fire fighters. Since the last convention, we have successfully defeated several scurrilous attempts to repeal the contracting prohibition that protects the jobs of federal fire fighters working for the Department of Defense and we will continue to do all we can to continue to protect the jobs of IAFF members. Additionally, in the last two years, the District has been involved in several successful arbitrations assisting locals with their issues. Several precedence-setting issues were funded through the IAFF’s Guardian Policy, and those cases have resulted in favorable decisions regarding staffing and FLSA policy coverage for issues regarding membership pay that resulted in direct monetary benefits to some of our affected members.
Also, through my office, the District has presented many issues before the Federal Labor Relations Authority such as Negotiability Appeals, Unit Clarification Petitions and issues before the Federal Service Impasse Panel. In several Unit Clarification issues we were successful in including previously excluded employees into the IAFF’s bargaining units.
Overall, the past two years have brought many changes and produced successes and setbacks. Having served for many years on the job as a federal fire fighter, I know that every tangible benefit or “win” received is the result of a hard-fought battle. Because of the District members’ support, the IAFF and the 16th District have become a respected voice in the federal employment arena. Much of the credit for this and other successes we have achieved should also be given to the many leaders in the District that eagerly sacrifice their time and effort for the members of their locals and the entire District. In addition, the support we have received from General President Schaitberger and General Secretary-Treasurer Miller and the IAFF staff has been tremendous.
It has been an honor for me to be your representative and to serve on the Executive Board of this great International as your 16th District Vice President. The experience is rewarding and educational and I look forward to continuing to serve the District.