1. #1
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    Post Union for a Volunteer Department

    Is there such a thing?

    Maybe this is a mute question since wages aren't present in the traditional sense, but maybe more for call departments...
    God Bless America! Remember all have given some, but some have given all.
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    Not sure if there is or not... but there is the National Volunteer Fire Council.... that is someplace to start looking.
    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

    "People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter

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    Exclamation

    We have a Unionized paid on call FD we are the second or third in Ohio to have one........want more details email me .......J
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
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    So tell me why I might have a need for a union in a Volunteer FD.
    Stephen J Bourassa
    Latham FD (NY)
    member since 1969
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    An association, not a union, caters for members' needs. Because it's volunteer employment, there's no reason to have a union.

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    Question

    WHY??? You're not negotiating anything. Do you know what a union is for?

    Want to be in a union? Get a paid job!

    Where in Maine are you from? - Just curious.

    [ 01-10-2002: Message edited by: KeithA8 ]

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    Being a former Union Associate ("Steward") and member of a contract negotiations team, I can tell you that Unions negotiate more than just wages. Working conditions and benefits are just as important to try to improve, so I could see a need for some kind of a labor/management relation even in a volunteer department.
    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

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    Thank you Metal... I was going to post something similar until I read your reply.

    Obviously salary wouldn't be a primary issue in this type of situation. I guess that's what I was looking for... improved labor/management relationships, and whether there was such a thing as unionized paid/call firefighters.

    Workplace safety, unfair/illegal administrative practices, discrimination... all the problems that typically just "are" in departments with weak administrative systems. The underlings grumble and gossip, but these things are allowed to happen. If the same types of things happened in a full-time unionized department, there'd be hell to pay. Why the difference? These are usually the problems that cause membership to dwindle in departments/towns that can't afford a full-time staff.

    I see a union as a way to negotiate successful outcomes to these types of issues by uniting the membership as one strong voice. I think the incorporated associations are more of a social and support group, and really don't deal with department-specific issues.

    Maybe union is the wrong word or descriptor, but aside from a yearly wage, everything else seems to fit in with its function. Lots of paid/call departments offer "benefits", which are often called incentive programs. Healthcare, investments, clothing allowances, childcare, fitness incentives... you name it and it's being done by paid/call departments.

    I realize that it can get very complicated, and maybe it's just another level of bureaucracy that isn't needed. I'm just curious how other people operate.

    (I'm talking hypothetically here... not referring to a specific department or issue... just thinking out loud. Thanks for the replies)

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    Paid/Call is an interesting beast. I choose not to go there. But...

    Union for the Volunteers!?! Shouldn't we look into effective leadership vs. unionizing? A union may add a layer of animosity or confusion to an already difficult situation. Plus, I don't want to pay the dues.

    Many volunteer companies vote in their leadership. You choose your pain. Effective leadership from the top to the bottom can fix many problems. There are many posts concerning leadership and the lack their of on the forums. Read them and think about your community you are supporting.

    When it is time for elections you could change the status quo if you vote for the unpopular true leader, the one that causes you to think and a little pain. The one attempting to fix the broken system. You may not be popular with your clique if you vote this way. A little pain goes a long way.

    I support the IAFF for the paid departments and the purpose it stands for. A true volunteer company can work out of the box, without union constrains. Hmmmm, too progressive? Or are you afraid to go face to face with your leadership? The leadership you voted for... Think 'bout it

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    If the department you belong to is all volunteer, then the chances of a Union being implemented is pretty much nill. Now, with the paid on call volly's or part paid departments can utilize the Unions to the extent they are intended to be used for.
    Other than that, it is a pretty mute point to even consider for total Volunteer Companies. Most departments have a board of control, board of trustees, By-Law committee, SOP Committee, and other various names of such units from within the departments that can handle most issues concerning a Volunteer Department.
    However, if these issues are not being addressed and you feel that they are issues that deal with members safety and survival, you can always turn to State or Federally run organizations for help such as OSHA to assist you with these concerns, but first at least go through the chain-of-command.
    Other areas already mentioned that can give assistance to your questions or concerns are the National Volunteer Fire Council, and any County, or State Associations that your department is a member of.

    Keep doing it for the right reasons!!!!!!!!!!!

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    [quote]Originally posted by KeithA8:
    [QB]WHY??? You're not negotiating anything. Do you know what a union is for?

    Want to be in a union? Get a paid job!



    Keith, prepare yourself for a heart attack...I agree with Keith.

    If you want to be in a union, go become a career firefighter. And that goes for those vollies who put union stickers on their windshields too.
    IACOJ Agitator
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    I have been a member of IAFF, and I've been represented by the union in adminstrative proceedings. I say this only because I detect a hint of a "holier than thou" attitude in some of these posts--spare me.

    I was just curious if such a thing existed and how it worked. Progressive paid/call departments don't vote in leadership. Social and support functions (commonly associations) are separated from municipal operations, and this is where by-laws and voting and the like still exist. I don't think it's healthy to vote in leadership. It should be a hiring process established by the chief and it should be formal. Just my thoughts.

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    The IAFF is a career oriented union. I don't really see a need for a volunteer department to have a union.

    Here is a quote from the IAFF's webpage that states who is eligible to become a member of the IAFF.

    "Any person of good moral character who at the time of making application is engaged in service within the jurisdiction of the association, including all full-time, paid employees engaged in fire fighting, emergency medical or rescue service activities, will be eligible for active membership in the association through its chartered locals, state or provincial associations, and joint councils. The Association may allow other categories of employees as required by applicable state, provincial or U.S. or Canadian federal laws, subject to appropriate documentation and the approval of the General President."

    I don't think that there is even a reason for vollies to unionize. What would be the point other than creating a "****ing" match between the officers and the firefighters, or to just say that you are a member of a union.KNOW WHAT I MEAN?
    IAFF Local 2270

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    I see where you are going here A. Ridge... unfortunately, this is becoming another career/vollie debate that will surely give me a severe case of constipation.

    What you are looking for is a way to use a "union model" in order to maintain or improve the working conditions in a non-career fire department. I do think the NVFC would be a good resource for informaiton. I also agree that a formal "union" is probably more adversarial than what you need. In my department, we have an oversight committee that reviews the SOPs and we also have a grievance committee that can act as an advocate to a member who may be involved in a serious disciplinary situation. While the Chief has ultimate control over discipline, there is an outlet if the violator feels he/she is being unfairly treated.

    As for "benefits", the City does not provide us with much. Most of this is a function of our "association" which eliminates the problem of preserving benefits since we are all members of the association. My guess is that you probably already have the tools available to provide the service you need that may resemble a union. All that is needed if to somehow integrate it into your particular department.
    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

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    Progressive paid/call departments don't vote in leadership.

    Votes.

    What a terrible way to lead a Nation, State, Town, or Fire Department.
    IACOJ Canine Officer
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    [quote]Originally posted by KeithA8:
    WHY??? You're not negotiating anything. Do you know what a union is for?

    Want to be in a union? Get a paid job!

    Where in Maine are you from? - Just curious.

    [ 01-10-2002: Message edited by: KeithA8 ]




    I have to agree with Kieth on this one too !!
    The Career Guys out there need unions to negotiate their contracts, working conditions, salaries, benifits, and any other issue that arises related to their employment.

    As volunteers what do we need to negotiate ? we're not paid, we don't have a contract, health benifits and the like....So why would we need a union to represent us ? I also agree with ADZE..Why put a IAFF Sticker on your car if you're not a union member ? Thats down right silly not to mention a dis-respect to those men and women that fight fires as a career
    ***The Opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not reflect those of the Department to which I am a Member ! ***

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  17. #17
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    [quote]Originally posted by Dalmatian90:

    Votes.

    What a terrible way to lead a Nation, State, Town, or Fire Department.



    Is there sarcasm there? I can't tell. If there is, I only say this as I've seen many unqualified candidates become leaders simply because of "the good ol' boy" thing. True, you can end up with clueless leaders even if you go through a hiring process. I just don't think voting in your leaders is the best answer. An interview or recommendation committee that presents hiring suggestions to the chief is where I see memebr involvement being valuable. I don't think the tail should wag the dog. The fire service isn't a republic--which would be the place for the voter to express herself.

    If voting in your line officers and such works in your department, that's great. Based on my experiences though, I don't think it works in a healthy manner.

    I don't see why this is an issue of career-vs.-non-career. If always making this an issue when it isn't is what floats people's boats, then that's sad.

    I think I, too, agree that such a setup would add an an unnecessary level of management and might create an adversarial environment. And to those who have said the problems could be rectified with leadership changes, discussing the issues with the leadership, or effective leadership, I agree. But realistically, these aren't always possible and/or don't have favorable outcomes.

    I'm just looking for information here folks. I'm not saying it should be one way or the other. Thanks.

    [ 01-12-2002: Message edited by: A. Ridge ]


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    Is there sarcasm there?

    It's sarcasm wrapped in sarcasm. Ooozing sarcasm like too much mayonaise on a sarcastic sandwich as you go to take a bite from it from a sarcastic mouth.

    What would this proposed Union do to select it's officers? Ask the Selectmen to appoint a Union President when they appoint the Chief?

    You can not equate "progressive" with "appointed, not elected." That's a logical leap that's too broad to jump. Indeed, I'd suspect your not in a "progressive" call department if the subject of unionizing is even coming up -- unless there is quite a bit of difference in which direction to
    progress towards.

    There are departments that are there own organizations, and elections are fine. There are departments that are part of a municipal gov't and they appoint the chief, and that's fine. Some places elect a chief and appoint line officers; others elect line officers and appoint a chief. These systems work day in, day out all around the nation.

    How your officers are selected means squat. The standards and terms they are held too are important.

    Set standards of the minimum qualifications. Set terms after which their continued role at that position is reviewed. Develop personnel development programs that groom up-and-coming officers.

    One of the great advantages we have on the vol/poc side is people can move into and out of officer's roles with minimal financial impact as there life outside the fire service allows greater or less committment to the department. The department's I've seen become most bound up don't have to do with elected or appointed officers, but officers who no longer have the time to commit, but also do not want to give up and have nothing forcing them to give up their rank that took them decades to obtain. Elections and/or periodic review of appointments based on the standards of performance set by the organization move this deadwood to the side. And kinda like re-kindles, what's is today's deadwood may come back to life in a few more years when their life outside the station changes and they have more time or desire to apply themselves -- and if appropriate, they can move back up to officer roles.

    From what I've seen it doesn't make a difference elected or appointed or hybrid. Qualifications can matter, and periodically reviewing performance *definitely* matters.

    Matt
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    Adze & Brian Dunlap,
    The electrodes are connected and shock is advised! I'm laughing my tail off! I can't believe you guys actualy agree with something I said. WOW!!! See you guys aren't so bad. (just kiding) Good to hear the support.

    And to all you wanna-be's take the union sticker off your car!!! I can't believe the amount you pay for those things on E-Bay. And the scabs selling them to you should be kicked out of the union!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    IAFF member, Love this job! Remember the oath!

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    Originally posted by Dalmatian90
    Is there sarcasm there?

    It's sarcasm wrapped in sarcasm. Ooozing sarcasm like too much mayonaise on a sarcastic sandwich as you go to take a bite from it from a sarcastic mouth.

    I find it difficult to believe that you would be sarcastic

    Originally posted by Dalmatian90

    There are departments that are there own organizations, and elections are fine. There are departments that are part of a municipal gov't and they appoint the chief, and that's fine. Some places elect a chief and appoint line officers; others elect line officers and appoint a chief. These systems work day in, day out all around the nation.

    How your officers are selected means squat. The standards and terms they are held too are important.

    Set standards of the minimum qualifications. Set terms after which their continued role at that position is reviewed. Develop personnel development programs that groom up-and-coming officers.
    I hate when this happens, but I agree with Dal. If the company or state or town has no standards for officers, then you might as well open the doors to the asylum and let them run for Chief. In NJ, we have some State standards that give a "base line" for officer qualification (ICS 200, FFI, HazMat Ops, etc.) The State powers to be are in the process of creating "voluntary" officer standard recommendations that go far above the minimums that are there now. (I guess it is only a matter of time before the "voluntary" standards become mandatory.)

    This at least requires officer candidates to be trained to a certain level. Of course, this doesn't meant that they necessarily know what they are doing.

    Voting or not voting is beside the point. At my company, if you join today as a 75 year old guy or gal who is only going to help with fundraising and administrative stuff, you can still vote for Chief. That, I will admit, is assinine. But, you can only vote for a Chief who meets our State minimum standards and our company standards (age, activity, qualifications, etc.). This assures that the 75 year old fundraising guy who never fought a fire isn't going to become Chief.
    Originally posted by Dalmatian90


    One of the great advantages we have on the vol/poc side is people can move into and out of officer's roles with minimal financial impact as there life outside the fire service allows greater or less committment to the department. The department's I've seen become most bound up don't have to do with elected or appointed officers, but officers who no longer have the time to commit, but also do not want to give up and have nothing forcing them to give up their rank that took them decades to obtain. Elections and/or periodic review of appointments based on the standards of performance set by the organization move this deadwood to the side. And kinda like re-kindles, what's is today's deadwood may come back to life in a few more years when their life outside the station changes and they have more time or desire to apply themselves -- and if appropriate, they can move back up to officer roles.

    From what I've seen it doesn't make a difference elected or appointed or hybrid. Qualifications can matter, and periodically reviewing performance *definitely* matters.

    Matt
    The only point I will differ on is that qualifications DO matter.
    The above is MY OPINION only and not that of anyone else. I am not representing any organization in making a post here!!!!

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    Default just one more opinion

    Anybody out there ever worked in a company (busines, not fire company) where a highly qualified jerk was promoted up the management line? You can end up with a highly knowledgeable, well trained jerk with no common sense or people skills or sense of priorities as the boss. And to top it off, they weren't voted in.

    Have you ever voted for what appeared to be a very honest, caring, concerned politician who somehow managed to turn the corner to disregard, self-serving mismanagement before their term was up?

    Point being, you can end up with no prize or the cream of the crop either way. At least with a vote, if it came out wrong, you get a shot at fixing the situation in a year or some other specified interval.

    My other question...
    I saw the Christmas list of benefits you seem to be looking for. .
    Lots of paid/call departments offer "benefits", which are often called incentive programs. Healthcare, investments, clothing allowances, childcare, fitness incentives... you name it and it's being done by paid/call departments.
    Wow, no wonder you want a union to negotiate for you. Maybe you need a personal agent too. Sorry if this seems sarcastic, but you don't seem to have a firm grip on the concept of VOLUNTEER
    Lead by example...
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    Default unions ?

    I can see a possible need for union. I am a part-time paid per call FF/EMT. Check out my post "Benefits question?". If you have no insurance or injury benefits then I can see a possible need for union. We have an assoc. which could act as a union in some negotiations like for benefits as example. I don't think a "union is really necessary, and assos. could fill your needs. We pay dues of $45 annual which covers "flower fund" and Christmas party plus we donate annual to "toys for tots" from those funds.
    Bruce

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    I am a Volunteer, and I have 2 IAFF stickers on my car. One of them is a MDA supporter sticker, because that is the one thing I support the IAFF doing. Muscular Dystrophy is a terrible condition and I will give the IAFF money for them to help those Children. It is a small sticker and the IAFF logo is barely visible. I also have a Large IAFF sticker that was on my car when I bought it. I could not scrape the thing off because it seems whoever put it on there had it on there for a while and it baked to the rear window. So instead of replacing my window, I got one of those stickers of the little guy Peeing on a NASCAR number and placed it over the IAFF sticker. So now it shows the Little guy Peeing on the IAFF logo, Perfect! I do not believe Volunteer Fire/EMS needs a union. As bad as the IAFF tries to screw us over, why would you want to join them? They are an opressive organization who is all about Money. Look at this resolution 43 thing here in PG County Maryland. Do you think the Union is actually going to throw out 200-300 Dues paying members because they are Vollies on their days off? Hell no! They cannot afford to lose that much money! If they lost that much money, then they would not be able to contribute to another losing presidential candidate!


    Keepin' it safe yo!- I think not

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    CW7704:
    You should do some home work on the IAFF before you open your big trap. Why don't you log onto their web site and do a little research on them before you throw mud in their eye - you JERK!!! Another example of people talking about something they don't understand.
    IAFF member, Love this job! Remember the oath!

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    You should do some home work on the IAFF before you open your big trap.
    I don't need to do homework. Watching the Union local here in PG County Maryland is enough ammunition for me. You guys are nothing to me. Just another Fire Department Social Club that can be thrown out of any Jurisdiction at any given time.

    Why don't you log onto their web site and do a little research on them before you throw mud in their eye - you JERK!!!
    I have seen the great IAFFonline.org. And what is your point? Seems like a big political action comittee to me. There is nothing significant on there, except the one aticle where the IAFF was whining because Congress did not pass that Collective Bargaining Bill, THANK GOD FOR REPULICANS AND MODERATE LIBERALS! And its JERK OFF not JERK!!!

    Another example of people talking about something they don't understand.
    I understand the Union perfectly, You come to the Softball games, go out drinking with the Local guys, go to all the meetings and vote the way the Local wants you to, and you are in like Flinn! But, if you decide to go against the local on any issue, you are branded a trouble maker and harassed on the job, Which is BS. Why don't you go back to your slow hole in Conneticut and let me Complain about the Local in my own County without anyone from another state replying. YOU SHOULDNT OPEN YOUR BIG TRAP ABOUT PROBLEMS IN A JURISDICTION 400 MILES SOUTH OF YOU!

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