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  1. #1
    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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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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  2. #2
    Forum Member MetalMedic's Avatar
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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

  3. #3
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
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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 !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
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  4. #4
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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
    challenge competitor since 1993

  5. #5
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    Talking

    An association, not a union, caters for members' needs. Because it's volunteer employment, there's no reason to have a union.

  6. #6
    Forum Member KeithA8's Avatar
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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 ]

    IAFF member, Love this job! Remember the oath!

  7. #7
    Forum Member MetalMedic's Avatar
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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.

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

  8. #8
    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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    Arrow

    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)

  9. #9
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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

  10. #10
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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!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. #11
    IACOJ Agitator Adze39's Avatar
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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
    Fightin' Da Man Since '78!

  12. #12
    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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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.

  13. #13
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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

  14. #14
    Forum Member MetalMedic's Avatar
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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.

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

  15. #15
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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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
    20/50

  16. #16
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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
    dazed and confused Resq14's Avatar
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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 ]


  18. #18
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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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
    IACOJ Canine Officer
    20/50

  19. #19
    Forum Member KeithA8's Avatar
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    Wink

    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!

  20. #20
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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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