Good morning to all and Happy Thanksgiving! Wanted to ask a question this morning that I have not been able to answer myself. I probably just dont know the proper place to find the information. A few months ago, I interviewed for a career spot, needless to say, I didnt get it, Im hazarding a guess that it was my interview. I just didnt know how to answer one of the questions, and it threw me for a loop! The question was (not verbatum, i apologize) " In your opinion, how much influence do you think the Union should have compared to the Staff Officers in a fire department?" I answered along the lines of, "they should work together to strive for the best work environment possible for the employees." I now know that this was somewhat the wrong answer, as the Union's role from what I understand is to maintain a fair and safe work place for the member(s). My question is, where can I learn the ins and outs of the Union, PFFI, and IAFF, so I will be better equipped to answer this when my next interview comes along? Thanks in advance!
Oh, Im not sure if this pertinent, but the interview, like I said, is for a career spot, I'd be moving from paid-call, to career, so I'm really excited and hoping to blow the next interview out of the water!!!
This is not a very often asked question, because it asks you things that a person that doesn’t work there wouldn’t know. The relationship between the union and management are different with every department, some work hand in hand, others fight, yell, and attack each other at every chance. There are also regional differences, if you are in a “Right to work” state the union will have less power than in a strong union state.
It is always important to visit the station of a department you are testing for, and that is one of the questions you could ask. The culture of each department is different and the union/management relationship is a big part of that.
The question you say you were asked was “In your opinion, how much influence do you think the union should have compared to the staff officers in a fire department?” Your answer was that they should work together.
Here is the problem I see, you didn’t answer the question. They asked you how much influence they should have, or who should have more, and you said they should get along. It is really important to listen to the question and be sure to answer what they ask.
Without knowing who you are testing with, I would say a good answer would be that it depends on the situation. There are situations where the union should have no say at all, there are others where they should have the lead. When the department is deciding how to allocate their budget, the union and membership should have input, but it is solely up to management to make those decisions and spend the money. But in situations where safety, working conditions, work schedules, or discipline are concerned the union needs to be very involved. A great situation would be one where people that have run the union the promote to positions of management and so have the interest of both sides in mind.
That's a very baited question and in my opinion, could almost be against some discrimination rules. If you're hardcore pro-union and the person interviewing you is anti-union, that's a slippery road to travel. It's a very poor question to ask, especially if you're an outsider not involved with the union.
This is not a common question.
Don’t you think probably everyone of those panel members has been a union member some time in their career?
The union does not set policy for the department. The union and city negotiate a contract know as a memorandum of understanding that both try to live by. The union can attempt to influence policy in those negotiations.
Usually new hires are not covered by the union for the first year or during their probation period.
From a candidate:
Aha! Good point. Maybe I should have been more like...."As an applicant or new member of this department my opinions and thoughts on the union would be whatever I was told for them to be. Furthermore, since I don't really have any personal experience or knowledge I would find this an opportunity to learn from my superiors, which would be everybody, about this issue."
I think I'm on the right track now. Thank you for your help!