10th District Vice President
Pursuant to the IAFF Constitution & By-Laws, Article VI, Duties of International Officers, Section 3, Officers’ Report to Convention, I hereby submit my officer’s report for the IAFF 10th District, AZ, CA, HI, NM for the 52nd Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio during July, 2014. As fast as things are changing in the fire service, much of this report will be stale information (Report due 4/10/2014) by the time we get to the Convention in July. Since our Convention in Philadelphia two years ago, much has happened in the fire service; the media attacks have been very brutal, especially the legislative attempts to end the defined benefit pensions of fire fighters and other public employees. “As the stampede towards ‘Reinventing Government’ continues, only a concerted, coordinated strategy on the part of public sector labor unions will guard against the urge on the part of frustrated voters to throw the baby out with the bath water. Our membership must be able to count on the maximum level of political access and support as any other interest group competing for the attention of elected officials.” You might think that was something I wrote in the last month or so, it was actually from a piece I wrote in August 1994.
The attacks on public employee pensions are going on in almost every state; at my last count 46 states have taken a shot at changing the benefit structure. They have used the legislative process, the initiative process, the bankruptcy process, with them going after the already retired public employees in Detroit. The city of Detroit has filed the largest and most complex municipal bankruptcy in the history of such filings.
In Detroit, the emergency financial manager filed a plan to bring the city out of bankruptcy. It’s a combination of pension cuts of 10% for fire and police retirees, 30% cuts for miscellaneous retirees, with proposal to only provide about 20 cents on the dollar for bond holders. Remember this is a state with a state constitutional amendment that says, “Pensions shall be a contractual obligation thereof which shall not be diminished or impaired thereby.” Since the above proposal was submitted, it has been amended to make it less favorable to retirees. In my opinion, the appeals will last for another couple of year with the whole issue going before the U.S. Supreme Court sometime in the future.
But you can see how easy it is for the media to create envy or jealousy by looking at the following break-out on pensions. They label public employees as “selfish” and “greedy.”
PENSION BENEFITS FOR WORKERS IN THE UNITED STATES:
Remember the words of General President Schaitberger: “Every decision that is made that effects the wages, hours, or working conditions of fire fighters is made by somebody elected or someone appointed by someone elected.” Stay strong; we have a lot of work to do.
The following table lists the successes in the 10th District of the IAFF SAFER Grant Awards program.