1. #1
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    Thumbs down Firefighters reject IAFF

    Fire Union Rejected in Lakeland, 40-33
    By Rick Rousos
    The Ledger

    LAKELAND, FL -- City firefighters on Wednesday rejected the chance to join the International Association of Fire Fighters union, which would have represented them in wage and other negotiations.

    The vote was 40 against representation and 33 for it. Eight firefighters didn't vote.

    "I'm delighted," City Manager Roger Haar said. "I was also surprised."

    Haar said that in the aftermath of Sept. 11, a lot of public safety employees feel they want to be part of a larger brotherhood.

    Haar said one of the biggest complaints from firefighters was a lack of communication with their department and city supervisors.

    Haar and Fire Chief Mike Mohler said they have tried to improve communication with the workers and will continue to do so.

    Mike Steele, a driver engineer at the department for the past 10 years, was a big union proponent.

    "We are disappointed," Steele said. "But we have a year to bring it back up."

    Steele speculated that some firefighters became scared last week after lawyers from the city spoke out against the union at the Fire Department.

    Mohler said he was pleased. He said he didn't know how the firefighters would vote.

    "They had some issues, and we tried to educate them as best we could," Mohler said. "They voted their conscience.

    "I'm happy for the firefighters."

    Ledger reporter John Chambliss contributed to this story. Rick Rousos can be reached at rick.rousos@theledger.com or 863-802-7516.

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    "I'm delighted," City Manager Roger Haar said. "I was also surprised."
    Anytime the City manager is "delighted", things are not good.

    "They had some issues, and we tried to educate them as best we could," Mohler said.
    Ahhhhh....the City educated the firefighters about the Union.....hmmm.

    And what do you suppose they said?

    Dave

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    Steele speculated that some firefighters became scared last week after lawyers from the city spoke out against the union at the Fire Department.
    They must not know that if a lawyers lips are moving, he's most likely lying. They (the firefighters) should have went out and got their own representation or had an International rep present at the meeting.
    I agree that anytime the city manager is "delighted", something's wrong.
    FTM-PTB-EGH-RFB-KTF

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    Do these firefighters have any union or association? Was it a vote to join their current union with the IAFF or are they all covered under a municipal workforce union?

    I find it hard to believe 81 firefighters would not want to be represented in some way. There must be more to this, time to start digging.

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    So, who are these guys?
    http://www.iaff4173.com/

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    That seems a we bit strange to have a Local # prior to voting in the union. I totally agree with the idea that if the Chief and City Manager are "delighted" that they scared the firefighters into not voting to affiliate, they should be concerned.

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    Originally posted by E229Lt
    So, who are these guys?
    http://www.iaff4173.com/

    Gut reaction... possibly some of the pro-union voters setting up a site in preparation for membership (to be publicized after the vote), thinking they had more votes than they actually did?

    Just an idea......

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    You normally obtain a Local # AFTER you have affiliated.

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    Could it be the old number from their previous affiliation??? Not sure how IAFF assigns numbers.

    Published Tuesday, October 29, 2002

    Firefighters to Vote on Joining Union
    The Lakeland workers say they don't have a great enough voice.

    By Will Vash
    The Ledger

    will.vash@theledger.com

    LAKELAND -- Many Lakeland firefighters are asking: Where's the respect?

    Honored as heroes by the public in a wave of post 9/11 patriotism, they say it's high time they have more of a say in their own department.

    "Our city administrators and Fire Department administrators need to use us," said firefighter Mike Steele. "We want to be recognized, and we keep being told we're not."

    Rank-and-file firefighters will decide Nov. 6 whether to join the International Association of Fire Fighters, which could serve as the bargaining unit for the department's 102 nonsupervisory employees.

    The IAFF represents 95 percent of Florida firefighters.

    Lakeland City Manager Roger Haar and Fire Chief Mike Mohler oppose union representation, characterizing it as a risky "gamble" that won't result in change.

    But George Sucarichi, 10th district vice president with the Florida Professional Firefighters organization, said city officials refuse to listen to their workers' concerns.

    "The city could take steps on some minor issues that would definitely create a more hospitable relationship," Sucarichi said. "They won't do it. They want to stonewall and make things difficult."

    In a letter to firefighters, Mohler said a union "cannot and will not guarantee anything."

    "You will vote `Yes' if you want the union to talk for you and `No' if you don't want them to come between us," Mohler said. "Please don't gamble or vote your rights away without educating yourself."

    "I, like all of you, wish things moved faster than they do, but I can assure you we are moving forward and City Hall listens," Mohler said in the letter.

    Mohler said he is proud of his firefighters.

    "We are not Tampa, nor are we Hillsborough County or Orlando," Mohler said in the letter. "What we are is a very good fire department that all of you should be proud of, and where the contribution of each member is both needed and appreciated."

    But Sucarichi said fire administrators refused, until pressure was applied, to run American flags in front of city fire stations at half-staff for a fallen firefighter in a neighboring county.

    "Tell me what is positive and beneficial about a decision like that," Sucarichi said. "What does that tell you? Wouldn't that be considered a red flag?"

    Firefighters say several recent instances illustrate the problems within the department.

    Steele said fire administrators keep association material off firehouse bulletin boards and the city refuses to deduct association dues from paychecks.

    The IAFF, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, represents more than 240,000 professional firefighters and emergency medical personnel in the United States and Canada, according to IAFF report.

    The IAFF is influential in lobbying the state Legislature for laws protecting the long-term health of firefighters, association members said.

    Lakeland firefighters had an IAFF union in the mid-1970s, but the affiliation ended in 1979, officials said.

    City officials said that a similar disappointment will befall another union.

    Sucarichi said the city needs to work with the union.

    "If you don't have a vehicle, then you don't have a voice," Sucarichi said.

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    In some cases, the IAFF will let an affiliate obtain their old local # upon re-affiliation. Other times a new number is assigned and the local may ask the IAFF for their old number back at a later time. You can usually tell when a IAFF local affiliated by their #. There were 66 original locals. Pittsburgh is Local 1,Chicago Local 2 and right down the line to #'S in the 4200's. I myself am curious to the real story behind all of this. I dont think Florida has bargaining rights, but don't quote me on it. I believe that locals that organize without rights truly are taking a courageous stand. I think they should re-think their vote for next time. There really is STRENGTH IN UNITY.

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    The article says that eight firefighters didn't vote. What the article didn't say was wether or not those firefighters were elegible to vote (ie: If they wouldn't be part of the bargaining unit due probationary status, their rank being too high, etc.)

    However, if those eight individuals were elegible to join the union and therefore vote, and had they voted for the formation of a local, then, well, I don't have to state the obvious, they'd be IAFF members.

    My thoughts on non-voters in general are SHAME ON THEM! Our democracy was set up for a reason, and I feel it is our duty to participate. Now I know there are those out there who will say we have the right to not vote, and while I agree they do, I say their non-votes are automaticly for the winning side. As for the non-voters in that department, I say they are worse than those who voted against the union, and therefore could almost be labeled as scabs.

    My $0.02
    Ken

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    I say they are worse than those who voted against the union, and therefore could almost be labeled as scabs.
    So just because they voted for what they thought was best, you say they are bad people? Do you know all the details of what their choices were? Do you have all the information? Or are you simply saying being Union is better than anything else?

    It's their choice, it's their vote, I would not go and say one side is better or worse than the other without the information.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    So just because they voted for what they thought was best, you say they are bad people?
    Thats the point Bones, they didn't vote. Scabs may be harsh, but sometimes you have to stand up and be counted.....Vote either way, its your right.

    Why did they lose their Local in the first place? Any ideas?

    Dave

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    Default A non-vote is a vote for the winner by default

    That was my point. I have higher respect for those that voted against the union, as it is known where they stand. It is those that can vote that choose not to that I am referring to.

    And, to answer your question, no, I do not know all the facts. I thought I made that clear in my earlier post. Sorry for any confusion. If those eight that did not vote are not eligible, fine. Then it doesn't matter.

    Be safe.
    Ken

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    Originally posted by MIKEYLIKESIT
    You normally obtain a Local # AFTER you have affiliated.
    When I helped start the union at my last non-fire dept. job we had a number assigned before the vote for leagal reasons (contract preliminaries, proposals to the city etc.) You have to have an identifier to start initial contracting.
    "What makes a person run into a building others are running out of?...Character."- Dennis Smith

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