RICKY J. WALSH
7th District Vice President
The following report of the 7th District Vice President is respectfully submitted to General President Harold Schaitberger, General Secretary-Treasurer Thomas Miller, the IAFF Executive Board and all officers and delegates at this 52nd Convention held in Cincinnati in accordance with the provisions of Article VI, Section 3 of the International Association of Fire Fighters Constitution and By-Laws. The report contains a summary of activities within the 7th District from August 2012 through April 2014.
Since the date you honored me with the privilege of representing the members of Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska, I continue to faithfully serve the members of the district and this International to the best of my ability. I have attended all Executive Board meetings and completed all tasks assigned t
o me by the General President. My actions and votes during board meetings were made with the needs and the concerns of the 7th District members in mind, but also with great regard for the interests of all IAFF members on the front lines every day and those in retirement. My specific duties as a member of the IAFF Executive Board include serving on a number of committees including the IAFF Financial Corporation, Education & Training, Emergency Medical Services, Organizing & Field Services, Information and Technology, Wildland Task Force, Legal Services and Human Relations. I also continue to work towards the development of the IAFF Motorcycle Club and serve as Chairman of the IAFF-MG committee. It has been my honor to attend and participate in all IAFF functions since the Philadelphia Convention including far too many Line-of-Duty Death memorials honoring our fallen brothers and sisters.
The office of the 7th District actively creates new programs to benefit affiliate locals while continuing existing programs with constant review and improvement. With the assistance of District Field Service Representatives (DFSR) Brian Hurley (Tumwater Local 2409) and Greg Womack (Boise Local 149), my program known as “mini-education seminar series” has been enhanced and continues to educate members with workshops offered at the local, grassroots level. During the last two years, over 300 members have taken advantage of the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills through participation in 15 “mini-education days” at various locations throughout the district. The venues included firehouse training rooms, hotel meeting rooms and college campuses. Training topics were primarily workshops previously offered at ALTS, but they also included specially designed courses specific to either the location in which the training was delivered or the “hot issues” of the day. The customized courses were developed by either the DFSRs or me. I thank AGP Jim Ridley and Director Matt Vinci for their continued support and assistance to me in this endeavor.
The 7th District website continues to deliver information to all IAFF members with an interest in the activities of the IAFF 7th District 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Links to all state associations in the 7th District are accessible from this site, as are the 7th District Vice President editorials, announcements, photos and other important documents. In addition, the website contains a 7th District Library that houses labor publications for checkout to any member registered to the site. The website is available at www.iaff7thdistrict.org. I have also created a 7th District Vice President Facebook page, as well as a 7th District Facebook page. Both our Twitter and Facebook accounts are now utilized to disseminate information to the district and beyond. I will continue to consider various avenues of message delivery to assure timely uptake of news and other information by IAFF members.
On another front, the 7th District Caucus has been an overwhelming success thanks to the commitment of the State Association Executive Boards and the 7th District IAFF State Representatives. Montana hosted the caucus in 2012 and Washington in 2013 with support from Bozeman Local 613, Vancouver Local 452 and 7th District headquarters as the primary sponsors. The 2012 caucus featured 7th District, IAFF affiliate, friend and life coach Donna Forgy as well as mandatory team-building exercises for all attendees. In 2013, the caucus featured “How to Talk Union” with John Kretzschmar and a team-building exercise enjoyed by all attendees. We invite you to visit and view on the 7th District website. The 7th District Caucus is also sponsored by DiMartino Associates, MDA and Alaska Airlines. The 7th District State Leadership Team functions together as one in an effort to give all members of the 7th District every opportunity to grow and be successful.
The Magnificent 7th District and the associated state organizations continue to invest in education. Annually, each state association presents a joint education conference in partnership with the 7th District Office. The subject matter varies from general classes to topics specific to the state in which the conference is held. Instructor backgrounds vary from local union members with expertise to state agency representatives. The 7th District Office also partnered with the WSCFF, PFFI, MSCOPFF and the HAMMER training facility to conduct an annual Fire Ops 101 event in Richland, Washington. Invitations for the event are sent to all 7th District locals encouraging them to bring their local decision makers for ‘a day in the life of a firefighter.’ During the event, policy makers from the Northwest interact with the simulations and experience a small part of what fire fighters go through on a daily basis. Tri-City Locals 1052, 1296, 1433 and I-24 deserve acknowledgement for the success of this program, as well as my younger sibling Battalion Chief Curtis Walsh who I count on heavily to make this program happen. Fire Ops 101 has been so successful in the 7th District, we have branched out to have an event in Juneau and an annual event in Boise. To date, the 7th District team has graduated over 400 policy makers from the Fire Ops 101 program. I wish to thank the many dedicated union leaders and fire service professionals who work to make these events a success. Special thanks to Assistant to the General President Lori Moore-Merrell who is paramount to the success of these highly anticipated and sold-out events.
Looking towards the future, a new and exciting educational program was born out of the 7th District office this year titled “The Young Member Conference.” The program is designed to be a part of succession planning for every local and state office, as well as this office as we educate and mentor new leaders. The Young Member Conference was limited to those local affiliate members born in or after 1980, and it is considered to be a shining star on the horizon for consideration for union leadership positions. This is a new concept as opposed to the concept that “It’s your turn in the barrel,” which is practiced by too many of our affiliates. In its inaugural year, 192 young members participated in a two-and-a-half-day seminar where they learned about IAFF history, labor history, politics, state association history, real world views and research resources. This conference will be an annual event in the 7th District.
This office continues to service the locals of the Magnificent 7th with the assistance of the IAFF headquarters and the State Executive Boards. The work of the IAFF State Representatives, appointed by General President Schaitberger after consulting with me, cannot be overstated. The work of contract assistance, jurisdictional issues and local business model formulation are just some of their assignments. This office could not achieve the success it has without the dedication of these brothers and sisters.
The Magnificent 7th District office continues to oversee the 7th District Benevolent Fund, primarily to assist 7th District members when they hit bumps in the “road of life.” This has been a highly successful endeavor that has truly hit its target of existence. The money for the fund is generated by the members themselves through annual events such as the Shad Fishing Derby, the Rum and Diet golf tournament, the Salmon Derby and the sales of Magnificent 7th District clothing. The bi-annual 7th District Gala, held at the IAFF Convention, is the largest fundraiser for the program. The fund is also available to 7th District locals who have community needs but lack the resources of a charitable fund. In addition to assisting members or affiliate communities in their times of need, six annual college scholarships are awarded to children of 7th District members beginning their first post-high school educational experience. Special acknowledgement goes out to Brother Bill Dodd (Local 710) for his expertise in the initial set up and his continued support as the official 7th District Benevolent Fund accountant.
The 7th District perseveres in its support of FIREPAC, continuing to surpass the previous years’ totals in 2012 and 2013. I want to recognize and give thanks to all IAFF state and local officers for their efforts and attention to FIREPAC, their state association PACs, as well their local affiliate PACs. AGP Kevin O’Connor, David Billy and the entire staff of the IAFF Governmental Affairs Division are to be commended for assisting me and the members of the Magnificent 7th in achieving more dues check off locals than any other district. They are truly there for us when we need them!
The Magnificent 7th District not only gives dollars to political activity, but also time and effort. All State Associations were heavily involved in politics. In Alaska, the AKPFFA made great strides in electing friendly politicians to their state House to assist their pursuit of collective bargaining and a defined benefit pension plans for their members hired since 2006. Additionally, AKPFFA beat back proposed Right to Work legislation again, but we expect to be in the same battle in coming years. This year, they have been on the stump to preserve U.S. Senator Mark Begich in a top-tier race considered.
In Washington, the WSCFF was actively engaged in the governor’s race supporting long-time friend and former U.S. Congressman Jay Inslee, taking him from a 20-point deficit to the governor’s mansion. The WSCFF has been forced to work very hard to hold onto their current collective bargaining law and pension funding due to the formation of a bipartisan Senate majority caucus.
The PFFI continues to try to gain a presumptive law. This session, they were double-crossed by one member, a ranking committee chair, even though the bill had great bipartisan support. The PFFI also fought against an anti-collective bargaining bill in two consecutive sessions. The MSCOPFF successfully defended U.S. Senator Jon Tester and elected Steve Bullock (D) as governor. They will be fiercely fighting to defend U.S. Senator John Walsh, who was appointed to replace Max Baucus, in another top-tier race. Finally, 13 members of the 7th District graduated from the IAFF Political Action Training (PAT) Academy over the past two years, and many past 7th District PAT graduates continue to work at the IAFF’s pleasure when called.
The 7th District continues to grow, both in the number of locals and in membership. New locals have been chartered in every state in the district during the last two years, with many potential efforts yet to be explored. Our growth in these uncertain economic times is a testament to the hard work of the members of the Magnificent 7th District, as we continue to grow even in these uncertain economic times.
On a personal note, I retired from the Richland Fire Department on October 1, 2013. During the previous nine years, I juggled department work schedules and the responsibilities and duties of the District Vice President, admittedly with some stress. I would like to thank my home Local 1052 for the support that only a small local could give, particularly absent any management support. It surely is appreciated. I look forward to having just one full-time job going forward from here.
I would be remiss if I did not mention and whole-heartedly thank the following State President and Secretary-Treasurer teams for their overwhelming support: (WSCFF) Kelly Fox and Greg Markley, (MSCOFF) Joel Fassbinder and Dave Van Son, (AKPFFA) Tom Wescott and Brian Partch, and (PFFI) Tom Lovell and Curtis Smith. In addition, a whole-hearted thank you and farewell to my close friend Ron Davies, former PFFI President who served with a vision that has changed the PFFI forever. Also, thank you to the State Executive Board members, DFSRs and all of the IAFF Service Representatives of the 7th District. Without their sacrifice and support, working for you would be immensely difficult. Additionally, I thank all of the staff at IAFF headquarters for their talent and dedication to assisting the DVPs, the state associations and the locals of this great International. It is difficult to express the proper gratitude to General President Schaitberger and General Secretary-Treasurer Miller for their guidance and assistance to the 7th District and myself. I can only say thank you, and I enjoy the journey that we share. Last but not least, thank you to my family and my close friends for their sacrifices and understanding as I carry out my commitment to the members of the 7th District and the IAFF.
In closing, the above represents a mere summary of the highlights of the last two years in the Magnificent 7th District. It could not entirely reflect the continued dedication, hard work and sacrifices of the local and state leadership or its members on behalf of this great International Association of Fire Fighters. It is an honor and truly a privilege to serve all of you. I urge you to support the resolutions presented to you by the Executive Board, as they address issues that will benefit the members of this great International Union. This week demands your attention, but is also a time of growth. Cultivate new relationships and solidify old friendships, as they are valuable beyond words, never to be taken for granted. Above all, enjoy your experience at Convention. Stay safe!