With regards to Union membership, the National Labor Relations Act has some pretty specific definitions about who is a Supervisor and who isn't. Notably, the NLRA test for being a Supervisor asks questions about the manager's ability to hire/fire, set wages, make assignments, suspend employees, etc. In the case of our Battalion Chiefs, they can do NONE of these things. Yes, they can make recommendations for disciplinary actions or assignments, and these recommendations are almost always backed by the Department Chief, but they cannot singly make these decisions. By definition, they're not Supervisors.
They can make assignments or approve leave time, but there is at least one court case that supports the "non-supervisor" theory by describing this sort of thing as "minesterial in nature and ...[not involving] any exercise in discretion."
My Local is currently negotiating a new contract; it currently includes Captains and below, and we want to add the Bat Chiefs rank. All our our Bat Chiefs are old-hand die-hard Union members who came up through the ranks. They've maintained their memberships out of principle. In one of our negotiation meetings, the Chief announced that he could not support this contract item. Eventually he made clear that the reason was that he needed the Battalion Chiefs to be on his side of the table in the event of a Union dispute.
A lot of Locals here seem to feel differently about these issues; I respect each one's position (and please respect MINE, thank you!), mainly because we all don't have circumstances that are exactly the same. From my Local's standpoint, we feel that the only employees who should be excluded from our Union are the Chief and the Assistant Chief, since they are (by FLSA definition) Supervisors.
Ironically, our Asst Chief insists on maintaining his membership. Another "die-hard" Union member, he was a Union Officer at one time. The only person in our 148-man department who IS NOT a regular member is the Chief, whom I suspect got "flipped" a few years ago from his membership by the Chief at the time, who was labor-hostile. Our members all fully support the Local.
As I said, we are currently arguing for inclusion of the Battalion Chiefs in contract. Some of you may call them "shift commanders", "district chiefs", etc. If anyone has any insight or past experience in this matter, I'd appreciate hearing from you here or via email.
One last thing: my source for info is <i>The Rights of Firefighters</i> by Will Aitchison. If you're a firefighter, it's nice to have. If you're a Union firefighter, it's a SHOULD have. If you're an Officer of the Union, it's a MUST have. (And no, I'm not a paid endorsee for their publisher.)
PharaohTet (IAFF Local #35, North Little Rock, Arkansas)
I said it before and I'll say it again, chiefs should be organized, just with their own association.
If the Brothers and Sisters follow the rules and regulations, and adhere to the SOP's and SOG's, there should be no need to discipline anyone. That being said... there are those that like to "push the envelope" and force the officers to reprimand.
I hate doing it, but sometimes we have to.
To give you an example from here, as we are in the midst of a significant battle/war with administration and the mayor's office.
We are taking steps, and I choose my words carefully as all of our actions are completely LEGAL, our steps are designed to stop helping the city and administration out as we have done in years past. The city and administration have stopped meeting us halfway, and are jeopardizing our safety by cutting our line firefighting capabilities. As such, we have collectively decided to stop handing out freebies to the city, or benefits of cooperative labor, as in the past. No more details than that will be provided, but it is all legal.
Administration is obviously pushing back, further than just the cuts. The COD's tool of choice for that is the departments chiefs, both battalion level and deputy. That is their job here, they are the chief's hands, etc...
They are the ones dealing out punishment, they are the ones checking to see if off going shift members left early, etc... The chief level officers are a part of administration, and are not labor.
When Local 215 went on strike in 1981, the chief officers crossed the strike line.
My point with this post is that chiefs are looking for ways to pinch guys, here. It is beyond just following the rules. They are the "middle-man" here, between the chief and the local, but they are his guns, so to speak. I will say that they are also "at-will" employees of the city because they have no union affiliation. As such they could be "forced to retire" at the beckoning of the chief.
Sorry for the rant.
I certainly see your point. Between us, we both illustrate what I said earlier about how different Locals have different circumstances to deal with.
We don't exactly get along with our current Mayor (an understatement), but we enjoy a good "help each other out" relationship with our Department administration. I regret that your folks are having the problems you describe; keep fighting the good fight.
Unions were an absolute necessity at one time, otherwise labor would have starved. Those days are long gone - and NAFTA, the movement of businesses from the north to the south & bankrupt businesses are proof. GM says some $1800 of the cost of each vehicle goes to worker benefits. Unions are, and have been for some time, an ongoing part of the problem, not a part of the solution. Be grateful you have a job. Do your best. Don't equate pride with money.
Lets just roll with this here - please don't feed the need to correct these titles or rolls - its just a "For instance" type thing.
Lets look at Buffalo New York:
The Department starts with the :
CommissionerFor all intents and purposes everyone above Firefighter is a part of "Management Personnel" - the Fire Fighters are the "Workers"
Now our Union Local:
Board Members(Firefighters and Officers)
Now Ford Motor Company:
Foremen to C.E.O( Non-Union)
Sargent to Pentagon(Management)
Most Fire Departments seem to use a convenient mix of all these norms. When it comes to "Non-life and death" situations - I believe the standings should reflect the Industries standards of organization.
By having "Management/Admin/Officers" running your Union - its no different than having the C.E.O of Ford Run the U.A.W. !
It seems that to often the "Admin" wants it both ways - they want the "Prestige - Authority and privilege of Rank and all the Benefits of the Unions Contract." - But for the most part "Admin" is not obligated to "Enforce" the Unions contract rights in any job dispute or action - quite the opposite - "Admin" is usually the ones who the Union is pitted against when issues arrive or its time to negotiate a contract. (Yes , many Officers help both sides)
Makes no sense to me , who does "Admin" Represent ? Union or Employer?
But , be careful who you discuss this with - like many other issues in the Fire Services - its easier to get rid of the questioner than to actually answer the question.
The Fire Service has taken the "Authority of Leadership" so far to extremes! Too many , (Not all or even most) of these people wearing Stars and Bars have never served in the Military - yet believe their acting under the "Military Chain of Command and Respect" -
The Ego of their "Perceived Authority and knowledge" takes them far beyond what was meant to be.
Many Firefighters are worried about their jobs - thats why they sit back and swallow this dual role - Union/Admin nonsense.
In no other "Job" situation can a person be charged with "Disrespect" for "Disagreeing" with a member of "Admin/Supervision."
Where else can a "Employee" be isolated and discriminated against if they question the day today "Admin" actions or decisions ?
In no other job I have ever heard of where the Local Union paid for a lawyer to defend a member of Supervision - when that person was charged with "Racial Discrimination" by "Union Dues Paying Employees"
There is to much obvious "conflict of interest" not to have a clear separation between Admin and Union and the Union benefits Admin Enjoy.
Oh My God - I think I done it this time !:eek: