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Thread: Union 101 for dummies

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    Default Union 101 for dummies

    Hey, I'm an aspiring career firefighter and just had a few questions about unions.. And how they operate..

    I know the basics.. I.e. they negotiate contracts, provide employee representation, etc.

    The confusion on my part is:

    How do unions negotiate contracts? How do they decide on wages, bennifits, and pensions?

    Do unions place hiring standards and outline the testing/hiring process at all?

    Do unions have any say over who gets hired?

    When lay offs occur, what is the policy to figure out who gets cut?

    Are. There any clear cut advantages or disadvantages to being in the union or not being in the union?

    And lastly, in the last election, I know the IAFF enforced Obama Biden, now I'm really foggy on the political endorsement/ preference, but it makes no sense to me that the IAFF would endorse a party, that for the most part is destroying cities like Philly, Detroit, buffalo etc..why would the union endorse a party that really isn't union supportive?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigGriffC12 View Post
    How do unions negotiate contracts? How do they decide on wages, bennifits, and pensions?
    Collective bargaining with management
    Do unions place hiring standards and outline the testing/hiring process at all?
    Some Unions can and do have a say in the standards.
    Do unions have any say over who gets hired?
    Officially, no.
    When lay offs occur, what is the policy to figure out who gets cut?
    In most jurisdictions, it goes by seniority-date of hire.
    Are there any clear cut advantages or disadvantages to being in the union or not being in the union?
    All depends on how you feel about what your union can and cannot do for you. I was a strong proponent for my Union as they did many things to protect us from abuse by Management by "keeping them honest and giving them many moments of pause."

    And lastly, in the last election, I know the IAFF enforced Obama Biden, now I'm really foggy on the political endorsement/ preference, but it makes no sense to me that the IAFF would endorse a party, that for the most part is destroying cities like Philly, Detroit, buffalo etc..why would the union endorse a party that really isn't union supportive?
    Unions are a product of the Democratic Party. Its as simple as that. It doesnt mean you have to vote for their guy however.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigGriffC12 View Post
    And lastly, in the last election, I know the IAFF enforced Obama Biden, now I'm really foggy on the political endorsement/ preference, but it makes no sense to me that the IAFF would endorse a party, that for the most part is destroying cities like Philly, Detroit, buffalo etc..why would the union endorse a party that really isn't union supportive?
    Because the GOP's ideology is to abolish collective bargaining completely.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

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    Oh Grasshopper, you have a lot to learn

    Suggest you read a few books on the history of unions, do not have any titles to suggest.

    Get an understanding of where unions came from and where they ae at now.

    some answers to your questions depends on what part of the counrty you are in and how much hate to use the word power or authority they have in a specific city or state

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    Quote Originally Posted by scfire86 View Post
    Because the GOP's ideology is to abolish collective bargaining completely.
    And the Dem's ideology is to destroy everything else, so I guess they're even.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigGriffC12 View Post
    Hey, I'm an aspiring career firefighter and just had a few questions about unions.. And how they operate..

    I know the basics.. I.e. they negotiate contracts, provide employee representation, etc.

    The confusion on my part is:

    How do unions negotiate contracts? How do they decide on wages, bennifits, and pensions?
    Our union looks at wages from similar size dept's. Along with that, the state of the local economy, how many runs they take and similar factors.
    Do unions place hiring standards and outline the testing/hiring process at all?
    The Civil Service Commission handles that mostly here. The union can offer advice and opions though.
    Do unions have any say over who gets hired?
    NO
    When lay offs occur, what is the policy to figure out who gets cut?
    SENIORITY, last hired, first fired.
    Are. There any clear cut advantages or disadvantages to being in the union or not being in the union?
    Yes, most politicians are morons. They have no clue what it takes to do our job, they're more worried about being reelected. You need an entity to protect you from being a scapegoat or wrongly disciplined. They also can be proactive in bettering the conditions and safety environment. And they can also help the city manage things better by providing solutions that may not occur to the management side.
    On the flip side, a few pieces of deadwood enjoy the same protection as the productive members. No organization or group is perfect.

    And lastly, in the last election, I know the IAFF enforced Obama Biden, now I'm really foggy on the political endorsement/ preference, but it makes no sense to me that the IAFF would endorse a party, that for the most part is destroying cities like Philly, Detroit, buffalo etc..why would the union endorse a party that really isn't union supportive?
    Unions typically slant Democratic, but not always. And despite how many thousands of members a union has, it has ZERO votes in elections. They simply tell you who represents the particular interest of the union best, as does the NRA, Right to Life organizations, or PETA. It's up to YOU to decide who better represents YOUR interests as a whole. My faith and family comes before the interests of the IAFF when I vote. I am a proud member, but I am still a free individual, and I would expect any other member to respect that. As a union member, you pay to belong, it's not something that you get for free. The union is there to work for YOU.

    BTW, I think that you mean to say "endorse", not "enforce".
    Last edited by johnsb; 02-25-2013 at 07:41 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigGriffC12 View Post
    Hey, I'm an aspiring career firefighter and just had a few questions about unions.. And how they operate..

    I know the basics.. I.e. they negotiate contracts, provide employee representation, etc.

    The confusion on my part is:

    How do unions negotiate contracts? How do they decide on wages, bennifits, and pensions?
    Typically, the union has a negotiating committee who meets with the negotiating committee or designated person for the employer. Both sides present the issues they want to discuss and then they work on finding mutually acceptable resolutions to each issue. Wages are oftentimes reflective of other similar sized departments in the region and/or are in line with the PD salaries for that municipality. A lot of pension related stuff is set by state statute.

    Do unions place hiring standards and outline the testing/hiring process at all?
    Sometimes the union can have input on the hiring standards. For example, my department is pretty small and we don't have the ability to send new hires thru an academy. This is largely due to our entry level positions being part-time. So we kind of need our new hires to be already trained in order for them to be an immediate asset. We negotiated with our city some fairly basic certification requirements for our applicants in order to test.

    Typically the testing and hiring is set by the municipalities Civil Service Commission.

    Do unions have any say over who gets hired?
    Not officially, but in smaller departments they may be able to talk up some of the preferred candidates.

    When lay offs occur, what is the policy to figure out who gets cut?
    Typically the least senior get cut.

    Are. There any clear cut advantages or disadvantages to being in the union or not being in the union?
    Yes, however these can vary from one place to another. In states that are "right-to-work" and the workers have no collective bargaining rights, the advantages can be less clear since the union may not be able to negotiate much in the way of a contract. In my state, police and fire by law, have collective bargaining rights and binding arbitration for dispute resolution (in exchange for not being able to strike) and we are able to negotiate or have a say in things that firefighters in other states can't.

    And lastly, in the last election, I know the IAFF enforced Obama Biden, now I'm really foggy on the political endorsement/ preference, but it makes no sense to me that the IAFF would endorse a party, that for the most part is destroying cities like Philly, Detroit, buffalo etc..why would the union endorse a party that really isn't union supportive?
    Overall, the Democratic party is far more supportive of labor unions and labor in general than the Republican party these days. A lot of what is going on in city's like Philly and Detroit is a product of the recent downtown in the economy coupled with bad decision making in past years, corruption, hubris and in some cases, incompetence of local government officials. It's not so much a matter of the Democratic Party being unsupportive of unions as it is a matter of the politicians in power who happen to be Democrats being ******bags.

    Additionally, as already touched on, the Republican Party has pretty much declared war on organized labor over the last year or two and are hellbent on eliminating collective bargaining rights nationwide. So, the Obama/Biden endorsement by the IAFF was pretty much a no-brainer from a labor perspective.
    Last edited by FireMedic049; 02-25-2013 at 09:49 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    And the Dem's ideology is to destroy everything else, so I guess they're even.
    How so? The most destructive policies of the last 30 years occurred while a GOP was president.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

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    Quote Originally Posted by scfire86 View Post
    How so? The most destructive policies of the last 30 years occurred while a GOP was president.
    Then why is the debt up as high as it is, my taxes have gone up, and there's no budget that's been passed since the King has been in office? Not to mention the attacks on the Constitution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    Then why is the debt up as high as it is, my taxes have gone up, and there's no budget that's been passed since the King has been in office? Not to mention the attacks on the Constitution.
    Because a so called "fiscal conservative" president initially cut taxes (aka revenue), passed Medicare Part D, and started two wars. All of which contributed to the doubling of the national debt in those eight years. That was after inheriting an almost balanced budget, and a surplus which (instead of paying down the debt) he promptly gave away in the form of $300 checks.

    There are many other reasons. But those are some of the highlights. Just in case you didn't know, wars are expensive. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were both paid for with borrowed revenue.

    But now that a Dem is in the White House, conservatives have all of a sudden become concerned about the debt and deficit.

    Can you explain their sudden concern? Obama hasn't done or proposed anything that hasn't been done or proposed by conservatives in the past.

    Which attacks on the Constitution are you referring? I don't know of any.
    Last edited by scfire86; 03-03-2013 at 10:43 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scfire86 View Post
    But now that a Dem is in the White House, conservatives have all of a sudden become concerned about the debt and deficit.

    Can you explain their sudden concern? Obama hasn't done or proposed anything that hasn't been done or proposed by conservatives in the past.
    I can. It's either cognitive dissonance or multiple personality disorder.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scfire86 View Post
    Because a so called "fiscal conservative" president initially cut taxes (aka revenue), passed Medicare Part D,Obamacare is cheap?? Who's funding THAT?? and started two wars. All of which contributed to the doubling of the national debt in those eight years. That was after inheriting an almost balanced budget, and a surplus which (instead of paying down the debt) he promptly gave away in the form of $300 checks.

    There are many other reasons. But those are some of the highlights. Just in case you didn't know, wars are expensive. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were both paid for with borrowed revenue.
    Hmm, seems your hero didn't do anything to end them any sooner to save a buck.
    But now that a Dem is in the White House, conservatives have all of a sudden become concerned about the debt and deficit.

    Can you explain their sudden concern? Obama hasn't done or proposed anything that hasn't been done or proposed by conservatives in the past.

    Which attacks on the Constitution are you referring? I don't know of any.
    You obviously have your head buried somewhere. 2nd amendment, Drones, amoung other things.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    You obviously have your head buried somewhere. 2nd amendment, Drones, amoung other things.
    Lol. No one has taken or wants to take away my guns. I own several. The drones issue is more of the usual manufactured faux outrage hard-ons we've come to expect from conservatives since Jan. 2009.

    I'm more worried about the financial sector tanking the economy again than I am over the elimination of any civil liberties. It's pretty hard to buy bullets when there's no money in the bank. Closer to home. I'd be more worried over the continued assault on public employees pay and benefits by conservatives. I'd rather be paid at a higher level that allows me to join the NRA and fight perceived gun control than whether or not I'm allowed to own guns I can't afford. But that's just me.

    As usual you respond with an issue that is of minimal importance to the law abiding citizen just doing their job to provide for themselves and their family.
    Last edited by scfire86; 03-07-2013 at 10:03 AM.
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    Unions, the good:

    * Need to meet minimum requirements to "turn out",especially building trades unions.
    * Provide the education needed for the trade, and arranges continuing ed. to maintain license requirements, especially the building trades.
    * Maintain a hiring hall, again, mostly building trade unions.
    * Negotiate contracts for members with company/companies. Determine how the increase, with member input, will be distributed on the the check.
    * Represent members in grievance situations, or unfair labor situations. Have the ability to match the corporate world in terms in legal representation.
    * Same work, same pay.
    Fire related, from my perspective:
    * Has fought to maintain a decent entrance physical exam, no watered down crap or CPAT.
    * Maintained the cities adherence to the hire list, not allowed them to reach the bottom of the gene pool to hire "protected class" individuals just for the sake of meeting a quota.
    * Held the city liable for unjust firings/disciplinary actions. Expensive and time consuming, but an individual member would have no chance fighting the bureaucratic machine known as city hall.
    * Fought to maintain civil service rights, especially for our returning vets.
    * Maintained bidding rights

    The bad:

    * Can keep the inept employed.
    * Not every job is a "living wage" job in need of benefits, think SEIU.
    * Bench seniority, mainly building trades. If you suck and are continually riding the pine, a company needs to take you to get to an employee worth a crap.
    * Same work, same pay. Can cause a least common denominator affect when it comes to production.
    * Can and have called strikes not for the purpose of true work place issues, but for nothing more than political BS. IE transit workers strikes, NYC garbage workers, etc.
    * Can and have called strikes at the worst possible economic times. Company goes under-nobody has a job, company hires temps-you still aren't working.
    * About as close to socialism as it comes, again I refer you to anything from the SEIU.
    * Promote class warfare, SEIU and others.

    That's just a few, I'm sure there are many more good and bad. I've been fortunate to belong to 2 very good unions, but both are "skilled trade" unions.
    The IUEC is outstanding, especially Local 9. Very well run, and gets the big picture when it comes to negotiating. Provides skilled employees through their educational/apprenticeship and not afraid to muster out those that can't cut it.
    My IAFF local does well also, for the most part, picks the right battles intelligently. Not always on the offensive or whining over stupid crap. The benefit of that is when we do make a statement, it's not the "cried wolf" syndrome. If you screw up and get your dumb *** in trouble or fired, they will ensure the city follows the rules, but won't waste member funds to fight a losing battle. On the other hand, if the city wrongs an employee, the will go to battle for you tooth and nail. They a very successful at this for 2 reasons; they pick the intelligent fight, and don't have a history of crying wolf.
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPFDRum View Post
    Unions, the good:

    The bad:
    I agree with a lot of this. But I think the most succinct point is made in this cartoon that was recently sent to me.

    Name:  Mgmt.png
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    Quote Originally Posted by scfire86 View Post
    Lol. No one has taken or wants to take away my guns. I own several.BS!! Feinstein and others are dead set on it, they just don't have a clue how to do it yet. The drones issue is more of the usual manufactured faux outrage hard-ons we've come to expect from conservatives since Jan. 2009.
    REALLY?? How come it took a filibuster to get Eric Holder to reaffirm the Constitution?
    I'm more worried about the financial sector tanking the economy again than I am over the elimination of any civil liberties.
    "Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither.”
    It's pretty hard to buy bullets when there's no money in the bank. Closer to home. I'd be more worried over the continued assault on public employees pay and benefits by conservatives.
    We handled that here in Ohio,
    I'd rather be paid at a higher level that allows me to join the NRA and fight perceived gun control than whether or not I'm allowed to own guns I can't afford. But that's just me.
    I'd rather be paid at a higher level too, and I was until my taxes went up thank's to the Dems.
    As usual you respond with an issue that is of minimal importance to the law abiding citizen just doing their job to provide for themselves and their family.
    I see you'd rather just be a well paid slave.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    REALLY?? How come it took a filibuster to get Eric Holder to reaffirm the Constitution?
    I got news for you pal. The president already has the authority to order the use of deadly force on Americans, on American soil, that are not engaged in any combat. That was shown on 9/11 by VP Cheney who admitted that a decision was made that could used military force against Americans. As much as I disagree with VP Cheney on numerous policy issues, I'm certain is was not a decision he made lightly. You must be very young or you would know. I admire Sen. Paul's use of the talking filibuster, but it was more theatrics than substance. I can think of numerous scenarios where a president might have to authorize the use of drones on Americans on American soil without anyone being given due process.

    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    I'd rather be paid at a higher level too, and I was until my taxes went up thank's to the Dems.
    Someone has to pay the check for all the budget busting policies that were supported by conservatives in the last administration. Be happy you have that problem. A lot of people lost everything when the market tanked. Someone is paying the taxes to pay for your job in the fire service. I can assure there are many in your community who wouldn't given the choice.

    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    I see you'd rather just be a well paid slave.
    That means so much coming from someone whose livelihood is paid for by the taxation of others.
    Last edited by scfire86; 03-08-2013 at 06:04 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scfire86 View Post
    I got news for you pal. The president already has the authority to order the use of deadly force on Americans, on American soil, that are not engaged in any combat. That was shown on 9/11 by VP Cheney who admitted that a decision was made that could used military force against Americans. As much as I disagree with VP Cheney on numerous policy issues, I'm certain is was not a decision he made lightly. You must be very young or you would know. I admire Sen. Paul's use of the talking filibuster, but it was more theatrics than substance. I can think of numerous scenarios where a president might have to authorize the use of drones on Americans on American soil without anyone being given due process.

    There's a big difference in preventing immediate deaths, and blowing up someone just sitting at a cafe having a coffee.
    Someone has to pay the check for all the budget busting policies that were supported by conservatives in the last administration.
    And Obama has how long to deal with that?? Oh yeah, he rammed Obamacare down our throats. How much is that gonna cost again?
    Be happy you have that problem. A lot of people lost everything when the market tanked. Someone is paying the taxes to pay for your job in the fire service. I can assure there are many in your community who wouldn't given the choice.


    That means so much coming from someone whose livelihood is paid for by the taxation of others.
    So as a Firefighter/Paramedic I should get down on my knees and thank big government for allowing me to exist?? Don't think so Skippy. Keep drinking the Koolaid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    There's a big difference in preventing immediate deaths, and blowing up someone just sitting at a cafe having a coffee.
    Holder's initial response was that extraordinary circumstances might require the president to authorize the use of deadly force against Americans on American soil. The scenario you describe may or may not be extraordinary. No one stated there is a "one size fits all" solution. One thing is certain, I wondered what this month's wholly manufactured issue of absolutely zero importance would allow some blowhard politicians to grandstand would be.

    Now I know.

    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    And Obama has how long to deal with that?? Oh yeah, he rammed Obamacare down our throats. How much is that gonna cost again?
    You're funny. The status quo will continue to cost more when the only access to the health care system is via the ER. Given that you claim to be a paramedic, I would think you would know that. It's been shown that Obamacare will save money in the long run.

    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    So as a Firefighter/Paramedic I should get down on my knees and thank big government for allowing me to exist?? Don't think so Skippy. Keep drinking the Koolaid.
    No. That's not the point. You're complaining about taxes when your livelihood depends upon the taxation of others. It's not like there is a magic pot of money that is solely allocated to pay for emergency services. More importantly there are individuals who believe you make too much or the taxes they pay for your salary is excessive and wouldn't pay for you to exist if they had the choice. Just like you don't like paying taxes for things you don't like.

    No kool-aid. No need to thank me for throwing cold water in your face to wake you up.
    Last edited by scfire86; 03-08-2013 at 08:40 PM.
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    For me, it's not a point of living off other peoples taxes, or paying taxes. The real issue isn't even the taxes for core services, but the blatant fraud and the continual social program upon social program. It's not a safety net, it's become a way of life for a segment of our population. Call me what you will, but paying people from the "social security" fund that have never contributed, is wrong; allowing people to live in one state and collect in another, is wrong; paying for numerous illegitimate kids, is wrong. Especially when not holding the fathers responsible. Using an EBT card at a casino or liquor store is wrong. It goes on and on.
    Until we get term limits and a flat tax, eliminating loop holes, it will never change. Period.
    As far as your voting choice, it's yours.
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPFDRum View Post
    For me, it's not a point of living off other peoples taxes, or paying taxes. The real issue isn't even the taxes for core services, but the blatant fraud and the continual social program upon social program. It's not a safety net, it's become a way of life for a segment of our population. Call me what you will, but paying people from the "social security" fund that have never contributed, is wrong; allowing people to live in one state and collect in another, is wrong; paying for numerous illegitimate kids, is wrong. Especially when not holding the fathers responsible. Using an EBT card at a casino or liquor store is wrong. It goes on and on.
    Until we get term limits and a flat tax, eliminating loop holes, it will never change. Period.
    As far as your voting choice, it's yours.
    Ah, someone who "gets it". I'm tired of hearing "Oh that's just grant money". NO, it's TAXPAYER money, quit spending it on stupid stuff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SPFDRum View Post
    For me, it's not a point of living off other peoples taxes, or paying taxes. The real issue isn't even the taxes for core services, but the blatant fraud and the continual social program upon social program.
    I would agree with you were it not for the fact that many conservative groups have their hands into the government coffers just as deep as any of those you believe are abusing the safety nets.

    I will reiterate what I told johnsb. There are groups that make no distinguishment between your livelihood and the crack mom getting welfare payments for her kids.
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    Ah, someone who "gets it". I'm tired of hearing "Oh that's just grant money". NO, it's TAXPAYER money, quit spending it on stupid stuff.
    I agree whole-heartily.
    I'm not a fan of grants....I can see an important grants being used for such things a fire-wide issues: NIMS related training, specialized equipment, radios system and etc. Or even grants to provide NFPA compliant equipment in times of extensive upgrades or modernization. Hell, even equipment and training for the very rural areas with-out a tax base. This don't include fee based private organizations...they don't want to pay for fire service, hey, it's a free country, I'm good with that.
    But to use it to run day to day operations of a fire department or maintain adequate staffing to make up for the costs incurred directly or indirectly of the mounting welfare society is criminal.
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
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    Quote Originally Posted by scfire86 View Post
    I would agree with you were it not for the fact that many conservative groups have their hands into the government coffers just as deep as any of those you believe are abusing the safety nets.

    I will reiterate what I told johnsb. There are groups that make no distinguishment between your livelihood and the crack mom getting welfare payments for her kids.
    Morons come in all shapes and sizes. Firefighters and EMS personnel provide a VALUABLE service to their communities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    Morons come in all shapes and sizes. Firefighters and EMS personnel provide a VALUABLE service to their communities.
    No arguments on either of those points. However, that doesn't mean that every individual taxpayer out there would pay for that service given the choice.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

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