RAY R. RAHNE
9th District Vice President
Pursuant to Article 6, Section 3 of the Constitution and By-Laws of the International Association of Fire Fighters, I respectfully submit the following report of my activities as Vice President of the 9th District, to General President Harold Schaitberger, General Secretary-Treasurer Thomas Miller, the IAFF Executive Board and all officers and delegates in attendance at this, the 52nd Convention of the International Association of Fire Fighters assembled in Cincinnati, OH. Because of the time needed to prepare and produce Convention documents, this report is written and submitted in April of 2014. Consequently, events occurring after April 1, 2014 are not included.
I was honored to be elected IAFF 9th District Vice President in December 2012 to fill the vacancy left by the untimely and way too early passing of our former 9th District Vice President and my best friend Randall E. Atkinson. Randy was a phenomenal leader for the members of the 9th District and to all of the brothers and sisters in the IAFF. Randy represented the 9th District with honor, integrity, pride and dignity. Atkinson was a true unionist and will never be forgotten by the 9th District and the IAFF Executive Board he served with. At the 2013 Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial in beautiful Colorado Springs, the IAFF paid tribute to two union legends on the memorial wall, Randy Atkinson and Brother Jim Judd from Utah. Brother Judd also served Utah and the IAFF with honor, integrity, pride and dignity. I know the 9th District and the entire IAFF will miss both these distinguished union leaders.
The General President has called several meetings of the IAFF Executive Board during this reporting period. I have attended each session of these meetings representing, to the best of my ability, the interests, needs and concerns of the members of the five states that comprise the 9th District and all IAFF members. The General President appointed me to serve on the following committees: Emergency Medical Services (Chair), Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial (Vice Chair), Scholarship Funds (Trustee), Canadian Affairs, Government and Public Affairs and Legal Services.
I have had the opportunity and honor to travel to each of the five states within the 9th District on numerous occasions during this reporting period. The 9th District held an informational meeting in January 2013 for the 9th District state leadership at the ALTS conference in Phoenix. Another 9th District Leadership Forum was held in June of 2013 with an excellent turnout from many locals throughout the 9th District in Las Vegas. I attended two superb Educational Seminars in Oregon sponsored by the Oregon State Council of Fire Fighters in 2013 and 2014. Both these seminars had excellent participation from the members of Oregon. The delegates and guests were treated to outstanding speakers and incredibly educational PEP classes. The professional staff of the IAFF with Education Training and Human Relations customized a human relations class for Local 4196. The class was presented by two highly trained Human Relations Committee members and I was extremely impressed with the results of this customized HR session. The IAFF also prepared customized PEP classes for Wyoming and Colorado regarding needs of each state and presented by exceptionally skilled IAFF PEP instructors. Both PEP sessions received high accolades from all those who attended. Nevada also held leadership forums and I had the privilege to attend these classes as well as the Nevada state conventions in 2013. Las Vegas was also the site of the IAFF IDC conference where DSFRs, state representatives, HazMats instructors, PEP instructors and DVPs met to discuss issues such as the Affordable Care Act, Active Shooter and Fire-Based Community Healthcare Provider Programs. I took an organizing and informational trip to locals throughout Wyoming and was able to speak before the Wyoming State AFL-CIO meeting. The organizing part of this trip was also successful as we were able to organize a new local, Mills Professional Fire Fighters Local 4961. This trip was well received by the Wyoming locals and I hope to do the same in Nevada, Oregon and Utah during 2014 and 2015. As being assigned to the Canadian Affairs committee, I had the honor to travel to Nova Scotia, Canada to attend the Canadian Policy Conference. I want to thank the Canadian brothers and sisters for their invitation, hospitality and impressive informational conference. Denver was the site for the 2013 IAFF Redmond/EMS Conference. Redmond/EMS is a first-class conference dedicated to health and safety as well as EMS issues throughout the IAFF. I appreciate the committed union members and fire service professionals, who worked the event, to make this conference a huge success. Special thanks to Assistants to the General President Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell and Pat Morrison who were paramount to the success of this highly regarded event. The Denver Metro locals did an outstanding job in helping the IAFF make this conference an enjoyable event. I also would be remiss if I didn’t thank North Metro Fire and Local 2203 for their expertise in running the Fire Ops 101 during this conference. I also had the opportunity to attend the IAFF First Collective Bargaining seminar in Memphis, TN. This seminar was modeled after the very successful Political Training Academy. IAFF members were able to gain knowledge on how to be successful in managing collective bargaining referendums or ballot measures. Memphis Local 1784 and 14th District Vice President Todd made all attendees truly understand southern hospitality.
The 9th District had great success in getting jobs back for three of our members in Nevada. The first was William Snyder of North Lyons County Local 4547. Bill was terminated because of vague accusations with no merit. Snyder was awarded his job back with retroactive pay and benefits. Pahrump Local 4068 had two members, Delucchi and Hollis, both discharged for trumped-up and unlawful reasons. The local won an arbitration award to put both these members back to work, but the town of Pahrump refused to abide by the arbitration ruling. Local 4068 took the town to Court to uphold the arbitration ruling. Delucchi and Hollis are now back at work and being made whole by the town. All three of these wins could not have been accomplished without the IAFF Executive Board, the IAFF Legal Department and the IAFF staff for their expert work. Colorado has a Guardian Case for the firing of President Aragon of Stratmoor Hills Local 4955. Aragon was fired because he was the President of this newly organized local. IAFF Attorney Woodley and President Aragon are both encouraged with recent communications from the attorney of the district that will soon culminate with Aragon getting his job back and being made whole by the district.
These last two years, as you all know, have continued to be a struggle, with attacks on collective bargaining, pensions, jobs and continuing to make locals go to court to uphold favorable arbitration awards. In some states we are starting to see a small turn around, but there are still many locals that have not seen a raise in over three years. This is not because of lack of leadership but rather bad politicians trying to take advantage of extraordinarily difficult times in our nation. There is one positive that I have seen from these tough times and that is the development of leadership in the 9th District. I have seen new and old leaders being put into a dreadful situation and have seen these leaders emerge as even stronger leaders. I believe that the toughest job in this great International Union is being a Local President. I’m extremely proud of the local leadership in the 9th District, and I know we will all continue the fight to help our members concerning wages, benefits and working conditions.
Legislatively, all the 9th District states had success during this reporting period. Colorado was able to accomplish the unbelievable when the Colorado Professional Fire Fighters (CPFF) passed a collective bargaining bill, SB 25, for all professional fire fighters in the state. This was a very complex bill that was passed during the extraordinarily bad political climate of 2013. SB 25 was passed with a collaborative effort by the IAFF, the CPFF leadership team and legislative friends. Nevada had a successful legislative session in 2013 by beating back attacks on pensions and collective bargaining. Nevada developed a very effective statewide public relations program that has drastically increased the image of fire fighters throughout the state. Oregon was enormously successful in the 2014 legislative session by passing three great bills and stopping a proposed statewide referendum initiative for Right to Work in the upcoming November election. The first bill, SB 1518, is a bill which narrowed the definition of a supervisory employee for fire fighters’ collective bargaining. This bill will decrease the ability of employers to remove existing fire fighters from the bargaining unit based on supervisory duties and in some cases give mid-level managers the ability to vote to join a union. The second bill, SB 4055, closes a loophole in the funding of Oregon’s 911 call centers, providing a mechanism to collect the 75 cents a month fee to pre-paid cell phones. The third bill, HB 4104, allows one to be treated for an on the job injury in a timely manner and states that who will pay, will be worked out later. The Utah 2014 legislative session was successful because there were zero attempts by the legislature to attack fire fighters and /or labor in this general session. The zero attacks were attributed to numerous reasons, including the fact that during the last two sessions in Utah the Professional Fire Fighters of Utah (PFFU) killed all 10 anti-labor bills that were brought before the Utah legislators; the PFFU maintained a daily presence at the state capital and the Utah One labor Coalition provided a united front. The PFFU also supported seven bills that passed during this session. Wyoming Federated Fire Fighters were able to stop an attack on their collective bargaining law. In this short legislative session of 20 days, a bill was introduced to eliminate binding arbitration, which would have effectively done away with collective bargaining for the Wyoming fire fighters. This bill was defeated by the quick action of the Wyoming Federated Fire Fighters, the IAFF and political friends of the Wyoming Fire Fighters. The continued success of the 9th District is due in large part, to the outstanding cooperation and networking among locals, state associations and our great International Union!
The 9th District Field Service Representative (DFSR), Jeff Hamilton, was extremely busy during this reporting period, doing work throughout the 9th District. Jeff has dealt with everything from arbitration to organizing. I know the extensive time Jeff spent this year with Sheridan Local 276 helped them come through another tough negotiation that went to arbitration. Sheridan Local 276 is in the final process of receiving a phenomenal arbitration award. Those of you who had the pleasure of working with Jeff know he does exceptional work and is a true professional.
I want to express my thanks to each local union office for their dedication, time and work they have given the members of their locals. A special thanks to President Mike Rogers, Colorado Professional Fire Fighters; President Rusty McAllister, Professional Fire Fighters of Nevada; President Kelly Bach, Oregon State Fire Fighters Council; President Jack Tidrow, Professional Fire Fighters of Utah and President Joe Fender, Federated Fire Fighters of Wyoming. I value the friendship, support and advice they have given me these past years. In giving their time and talent they have made the International Association of Fire Fighters stronger for all IAFF members. I would also like to congratulate President Rusty McAllister of Nevada for his strong work and graduating from the prestigious Harvard Trade Union Program this year.
There will be numerous important resolutions before the delegates at the IAFF 2014 Convention this year and I urge careful consideration of each resolution. The action that takes place at this Convention represents your future and the future of this great International and your local. Both “pay check protection” and Right to Work legislation remain popular with members of the far right anti-worker element. Both measures would destroy the ability of the IAFF, and that of all unions, to represent the working men and women at the bargaining table. As union leaders, it is our responsibility to educate our members regarding these issues so they can make more informed decisions when faced with these issues at the ballot box. These are union issues and they will impact your family’s future.
A special thanks to General President Schaitberger, General Secretary-Treasurer Miller and all the IAFF departments and their staff for supporting the 9th District with our numerous requests throughout this reporting period.
The 9th District has received $36,673,428 in SAFER awards for the FY 2010 – FY 2013 reporting period and over $85,000 in EDF grants and loans.
New locals this reporting period were: