1. #1
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    Default Role of vols in labor disputes at combination departments

    Has anyone in a combination department been in a situation where there is some sort of labor dispute involving the paid staff and the city? For example, a strike.

    I could see the volunteers being put in a tough situation should that occur. On the one hand they're probably going to want to be supportive of the paid guys since that is who they're working with on a daily basis, but I could also see the city wanting to use the volunteers to make up for gaps left by the paid guys being on strike. That would obviously weaken the bargaining position of the paid guys and I imagine that they'd probably end up being a little disgruntled with the volunteers about that.

    I think the reaction of the volunteers would probably also depend on what the dispute was about and whether or not they thought the paid guys were in the right about it. Its also possible that the paid guys might be fighting for something that would also have a direct impact on the volunteers (better equipment, for example) and the vols might be on the same page.

    Any thoughts?

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    You are aware that Federal law prohibits municipal cops and firefighters from striking, right???
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    True. Though while I haven't heard of firefighters doing it, the "blue flu" seems to strike police forces every now and again.

    But, I suppose the more applicable example would probably be something along the lines of the city cutting back on manning (perhaps all the funds for overtime have been used up) and wanting the vols to fill in the holes.

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    Look into Camden City, New Jersey. Approx 10 square miles, nothing but ghetto. A few years back they used to man 8 engines, 3 trucks, a heavy rescue and three Bn Chiefs. Now they are down to 5 engines, one squad company, two trucks, a cross-manned heavy rescue and one Bn Chief. The City, with little to no tax base (many many vacant buildings) is heavily dependant on state aid for it's operating budget. With recent cutbacks however, they were forced to lay off 65 firefighters. Historically they have always been dependant on outside volunteers to cover companies upon the second alarm, and for mutual aid starting at the third alarm. When the Mayor announced the lay offs, she publically stated "oh we'll just rely on the outside volunteers."

    As you can imagine, this went over like a fart in church. Many outside vollies swore they would not repond in a showing of suppport for the laid off members. Some Chiefs swore they would not respond questioning who would pay for their fuel and other expenditures now that their run load into the City would obviously pick up.

    And then you have the faction of the hard-on vollies who drooled at the very thought of running into Camden- the chance to run into the big city for the big one. These guys were strongly encouraged (and still are) to turn off their pagers if alerted for a Camden City run.
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    Post Well...........

    The O.P. does have a legitimate question though........ And it's a tough one to answer. Although we've never had a Strike as such, many years ago there was a "Job Action" where folks came in to work and made sure that their equipment was OK, and then did almost nothing beyond that, except answer alarms. It's been long enough ago that I don't remember why we did it, and it only lasted about 4 or 5 days. Thinking back, I don't remember any actions by the Volunteers that wasn't supportive of the Career Crews........
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    I think it's something that doesn't really have a clear, consistent answer that covers every situation. However, I'd say a good rule of thumb would be to stay out of any dispute that doesn't directly impact/involve the volunteer side. (Now, obviously this wouldn't necessarily apply if the VFD itself is the actual employer of the career staff.)

    For example,

    If the dispute is about something like wages or benefits of the career that, then I believe the volunteers' role in the situation is to stay out of the "fight" since the compensation of the career staff really doesn't affect the volunteers.

    If the dispute is about a disciplinary/personnel matter involving a career member, then I think they should stay out of that too.

    If the dispute is about something like staffing, then it may be appropriate for the volunteers to get involved if the dispute is something like trying to cut the career staff and expecting the volunteers to step up their role.

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    You're right that every situation would be different. I was just wondering if this is something that anyone else has run into in real life.

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    Default Labor Dispute

    While this scenario of career firefighters, having a dispute with management has not happened to me, I still would like to comment.

    What I see in combo FD's, is that the career staff usually maintain the trucks and equipment, conduct training for the volunteers and other duties.

    If career personnel are at odds with the city/FD management, that would affect me as a volunteer. If the career FF's do not conduct training for us volunteers, we would have to arrange our own training. Same goes for apparatus maintenance. If the career FF that comes on shift, is not doing their start of shift rig checks, us volunteers would have to do that. Same goes for equipment checks, such as SCBA.

    If the career personnel are not covering a station, then it would be up to us volunteers to man the station somewhat to make a timely response, especially for EMS calls.

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    For me personally I would not cross any picket line, especially if there were
    brothers on it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FIRE117 View Post
    While this scenario of career firefighters, having a dispute with management has not happened to me, I still would like to comment.

    What I see in combo FD's, is that the career staff usually maintain the trucks and equipment, conduct training for the volunteers and other duties.

    If career personnel are at odds with the city/FD management, that would affect me as a volunteer. If the career FF's do not conduct training for us volunteers, we would have to arrange our own training. Same goes for apparatus maintenance. If the career FF that comes on shift, is not doing their start of shift rig checks, us volunteers would have to do that. Same goes for equipment checks, such as SCBA.

    If the career personnel are not covering a station, then it would be up to us volunteers to man the station somewhat to make a timely response, especially for EMS calls.
    FYI, for career firefighters, a labor dispute typically doesn't include not performing our job duties.

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