1. #1
    Temporarily/No Longer Active
    CAFFBOU's Avatar
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    May 2002

    Question IAFF and "right to work" states?

    Hi, I am from California and was wondering how much, or if any at
    all, power does the IAFF or other unions have in a "right to work"
    state. (Arizona, Utah) Since you can be terminated more easily (from what I understand), does the Union have much power? I am sure they can still
    represent you, but how does it all work?

    Last edited by CAFFBOU; 06-26-2002 at 02:13 PM.

  2. #2
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    MOTOWN88's Avatar
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    Mar 2002


    A common misconception is that in a Right To Work state you can be terminated more easily. The fact of the matter it simply means that you cannot be forced to join a union.

    The locals in the Right To Work states have to be a bit more calculating in thier attempts to secure thier power. An example of this would be backing elected officials that share their ideals and mission. Look at Raleigh NC, thier local ousted the mayor and got a mayor that is pro fire fighter. They went on tv and hit the sidewalks to ensure that the public knew they supported the new mayor. Now the man they supported is in office, and I am sure that he will remember who helped him get there.

    The Right To Work state unions have a tougher time no doubt about it but they still get the point across.


  3. #3
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    Nov 2001
    Division 24


    The IAFF has a Guardian Policy that is used when Local governments fire or discipline a union member (usually a officer of the local)That provides legal assistance. Many communities have found out the hard way that you cannot fire a union officer because of their position..Of course they try to use trumpped up charges, but the courts have been very favorable towards the firefighters lately. I thank my lucky stars that I am allowed to sit across from the City Attorney and Officials (including our Chief) and negotiate a fair contract that has provisions for arbitration if necessary. I give alot of credit to IAFF members that do not enjoy that right and will do anything I can to see that it will happen. I met a woman who is running for Congress in Tennessee..She was very complimentary to firefighters. I thanked her and told her the best way to recognize the firefighters in her area was to work for collective bargaining rights.

  4. #4
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    Smoke286's Avatar
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    Jan 2000
    St John's, Newfoundland , Canada


    Motown, the right not to have to join a union does of course mean that one can be terminated from ones job more readily then if you were in a union.In fact without a union managment can and usually will do everything within their power to ummmm mess with you I cannot see how any working man would think that being in a non-unionized position was an advantage.Not that I'm saying you said that,lol.

  5. #5
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    truck6alpha's Avatar
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    Mar 2002
    Hilton Head Island, SC

    Default Sorry- Long Post

    I was the Vice-President of our local while it was active back in the mid-eighties. South Carolina is a right to work state and the whole union issue is an interesting one.

    We organized as a result of unresponsive management and a lack of trust in the Fire Commission's motives. There was the usual hysteria when any group organizes and those of us in leadership positions were labeled as trouble-makers and malcontents. Which was pretty funny, because at the time I was one of the most decorated employees in the department and consistently evaluated as "above average".

    We found that legally, the commission had no legal requirement to recognize our collective bargaining position and refused to acknowledge the union. The advice we were given at the time was that there wasn't a whole lot we could do about it and that the IAFF would back us, but we didn't have a whole lot to stand on. Ultimately, most of us decided that we weren't getting any productive help for the dues we were paying and the local became inactive. This is not a slam on the IAFF; we were simply advised that if we wnated to push it, we could, and the IAFF would back us, but no one seemed very positive in their outlook.

    There are locals in South Carolina but other than Bluffton Township (who do not have a collective bargaining agreement), I have no idea how they interact in regard to collective bargaining. We have people in our organization who from time to time say they want to unionize for whatever percieved issue they are complaining about that week. I tell them every time, go ahead and call the national since we have a charter- it shouldn't be hard to reinstate it- but they never do. I guess it's that same lack of motivation that got them in the situation they were complaining about in the first place.

    I think the IAFF is a great organization (at least in all of my own dealings with them) and I think organizing has benefits- so long as the union local is proactive, participative, and willing to make the department a better organization. The locals who seem to have the problems are the ones who are constantly combative, or show up only at bargaining time, or don't market themsleves to the community (who is going to be your biggest supporter if you get them on your side).
    Michael "Mick" Mayers
    Acting Director, Urban Search and Rescue
    South Carolina Emergency Response Task Force

  6. #6
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    joejoe33's Avatar
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    May 2001


    I'm a IAFF member in a right-to-work state (Texas). Texas IAFF members aren't entitled to anything less from the union than any other place in my opinion. But, you're right, we must choose our battles carefully.

    I heard a quote at an IAFF leadership conference recently. There was a discussion concerning battles. The question was asked, "Why do we go to war?" "We go to war because we want peace."

    It is a struggle in a right-to-work state. There was the town of North Richland Hills here in Texas that was having problems. I think it got the city's attention when the IAFF's President Schaitberger showed up at the local to offer his help.

    I'm proud to be a member of the IAFF.

    Comments and opinions are mine and do not represent the agency or IAFF local that I am affiliated with.

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