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    Default Batt. Chiefs in or out of the union?

    I'm starting a push to get my Shift Commanders out of the union. It'll be a contract minimum-manning issue, and it may not be successful, but I'm curious how many departments (small municipal) have their senior always-on duty officers in the union?

    I'm talking the one who typically performs vacation, callout and OT duties, along with command of all stations in the city?

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    Anybody working for the department who took the oath of office should be a union member. The small number of desk vs. field shouldn't wreck votes or change agendas significantly, even if the upper echelon forgets why it exists. The guys at the top are not management, they are command and while I can't articulate the difference easily, I can tell the attitude difference between a manager and a commander. At my civilian jobs, I was always able and had no problem telling a manager to screw off--they're managing, not commanding, not ordering. Their position is not a rank, it's merely another task within the company. They represent no higher authority or office. They are owed no special respect to maintain rank discipline. Certainly the jobs resemble each other, but think about it: would you treat your boss at McDonald's the same way you treat your Captain? Would you have the same feelings? Civilians who get a boss who approaches things fro ma military standpoint in a cube farm sure get the difference (and usually resent it) so why are we in the fire service getting so goofy about the difference?

    It's like calling victims/civilians customers. BAD word choice. Customers are always right, victims are often wrong. Customers determine how service is to be delivered. a "customer" could tell you to not cut a hole in the roof, or not break a door. A victim just has to watch. This is why we have different words in the language, even when they are similar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcnally View Post
    I'm starting a push to get my Shift Commanders out of the union.
    Which side of the bargaining table are you sitting on: Labor or Management? What benefit do you hope to accomplish with this strategy?

    FWIW, it doesn't sound like a particularly good idea to me.

    For the record, our Captains (Shift Commanders equivalent to your BCs) are part of our Local. Only the top level Chiefs are not.)
    Last edited by DeputyMarshal; 02-27-2007 at 03:08 PM.
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    Our shift commanders (captains) are union members and hire overtime, fill out daily payroll information, and do other general administrative work in addition to supervising two stations. They report to the Asst. chief who is also a union member. The Chief and I are the only two non-union members of the department.

    It would be nearly impossible to discipline any union members if the Chief and I were unionized. We also deal with issues involving members that have various degrees of union involvement. Sometimes, we have to take the stand that is right for the fire department which may not be in the members best interest.

    A chief who is a union member could not negotiate for the department. Who would you rather have representing the fire department during negotiations, a chief officer or some political hack from city hall?

    The captains perform management functions as well as command. The Chief and I, while we function as incident commanders, are also the upper management for the department. I can assure you that any member here who told me, the chief, or any officer to "screw off" just because he considered us managers would be looking for a new job rather quickly.

    In small departments, all the officers have varying degrees leadership and management functions.
    Last edited by KenNFD1219; 02-27-2007 at 05:25 PM.
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    Thumbs down Let sleeping dogs lie.

    According to our state law, bargaining unit membership is dictated by the state code. Anyone can be in the union, but if you have primarily management responsibilities you are not in the bargaining unit.

    So our Battalion Chief is out, and our Company Officers are in the union.

    I think trying to get your shift commanders out of the union is a bad idea. If your Union is not strong right now, taking away membership will definitely rally the troops together. They will view it as an attack on the union, and btw it is.

    If you've got a problem with the way they (the BC's) are doing business, deal with the problem. Union membership does not prevent coaching, commanding, or disciplinary action. Getting them out of the union will not solve any problems, and it will make any of your other problems much worse.

    My department is still trying to deal with the carnage created by a chief that tried to bust the union. It will take 15-20 years before relations improve, and everyone stung by the last administration is retired.

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    This is about the Fing stupidest thing I've ever heard. We complain that the chiefs forget where they're from, yet we typically want them out of unions? Any member of the department who ahs taken the oath is duty bound to enter a hazard zone. They are not "management" in the typical sense of the word.

    As soon as we draw a distinction, WE put firefighters outside of our community. WE make them not "us." It's foolish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny46 View Post
    This is about the Fing stupidest thing I've ever heard. We complain that the chiefs forget where they're from, yet we typically want them out of unions? Any member of the department who ahs taken the oath is duty bound to enter a hazard zone. They are not "management" in the typical sense of the word.

    As soon as we draw a distinction, WE put firefighters outside of our community. WE make them not "us." It's foolish.
    I second the motion

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    Chiefs don't belong in a firefighters union. They are management, and we are labor. How can both parts be represented when management enforces rules, and punishment is dictated by them? Often times, chief officers are in direct contradiction with firefighter needs.
    The case could even be argued that company officers should be represented by their own association, as company officers are responsible for reprimands, and such. Technically speaking, company officers are mid-level management.
    Management and labor do not have the same interests in mind.

    As a sidenote, our deputy and battalion level chiefs are responsible for over-time hiring. Our local handles all vacation picking for the ranks of firefighter-captain, and does a very good job at it.
    Last edited by jasper45; 02-28-2007 at 03:16 PM.

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    Local 2068 represents everyone from the Recruit Firefighter all the way to the Fire Chief...
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    In St Paul the 24 hr street Chiefs- District Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs are in their own union, fire Supervisors Association. The admin Chiefs that are not.
    All ot is called back by the union.
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kobersteen View Post
    Local 2068 represents everyone from the Recruit Firefighter all the way to the Fire Chief...
    Interesting. Is the Chief entitled to union representation during grievance or disciplinary actions? Of course, I am assuming there is not a higher authority overseeing the FD such as a Commissioner or Board of Directors.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenNFD1219 View Post
    Interesting. Is the Chief entitled to union representation during grievance or disciplinary actions? Of course, I am assuming there is not a higher authority overseeing the FD such as a Commissioner or Board of Directors.
    Representation: That is a very good question.

    EVERYONE has a higher authority...
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    When I was the president of our local we moved to have the Battalion chiefs join the union. We did this because everyone saw the benefit of us speaking has one department with all members having one voice. The test we used was very simple...could a BC hire or fire a member, could a BC disipline a member and could he suspend a member...the answer was no, only the city and the chief could do those things. BC have the right to run the shifts, send a member home for wrong doing and keep general order and efficency of the department with on his shift. The BCs also needed protection for any screw-ups they may have. We are a small department 33 members and we all have a stake in one thing......going home alive.

    PS

    "I'm talking the one who typically performs vacation, callout and OT duties, along with command of all stations in the city?"

    Whats the problem with that......sounds like one BC got you goat...
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper45 View Post
    Chiefs don't belong in a firefighters union. They are management, and we are labor. How can both parts be represented when management enforces rules, and punishment is dictated by them? Often times, chief officers are in direct contradiction with firefighter needs.
    The case could even be argued that company officers should be represented by their own association, as company officers are responsible for reprimands, and such. Technically speaking, company officers are mid-level management.
    Management and labor do not have the same interests in mind.
    Punishment is meted out in the interest of discipline, which is in the interest of the department, which is made up of firefighters. The "management" has taken the same oath and has the same responsibility. We are under their care, and they need to be reminded of that. They remain brother firefighters, so they should be brother union members. They daily deal with the mayor/dictator, etcetera and are responsible to get the absolute best for us. It's not like a regular boss, who seeks bonuses by saving a company money (it shouldn't be) it's like a military organization charged to defend or attack. The moment Chiefs start viewing the fire service as a business rather than a paramiltary organization is the moment we get things like understaffing and station closings.

    The entire fire service has the same interests, managements or otherwise:

    Save lives and protect property.

    This cancer of regarding the fire service as a business and our civilians as customers will eat away until we are a business. That will stink, I promise. Every chief who has ever sold out his men to keep his position (I argue that the department should choose its chief, not the city) has approached the job as a business.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mcnally View Post
    I'm starting a push to get my Shift Commanders out of the union. It'll be a contract minimum-manning issue, and it may not be successful, but I'm curious how many departments (small municipal) have their senior always-on duty officers in the union?

    I'm talking the one who typically performs vacation, callout and OT duties, along with command of all stations in the city?
    What's the matter.. have a micturating contest with the Shift Commander?

    There are few" brothers" who bring this up from time to time.... they want all of the officers out of the Local, as they feel that they are "management"...

    Most of these same "brothers" have problems with authority and aren't worth crap on the fireground either...

    Be careful what you wish for... you just might get it.

    PS: City/Town hall loves this.. it's divide and conquer...
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 03-03-2007 at 01:16 PM.
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    There are few" brothers" who bring this up from time to time.... they want all of the officers out of the Local, as they feel that they are "management"...

    Most of these same "brothers" have problems with authority and aren't worth crap on the fireground either...

    I realize this post wasn’t directed at me with a name, but it is implied. I already posted that I don’t want chiefs in my local, and I also said that the same argument could be made about company officers in the local, and since my ‘fire ground’ ability has been questioned, I will respond.

    I have no problem with authority, and my position actually makes authority stronger for a boss. A firefighters association should only have to worry about firefighter issues, and the officers association is likewise only concerned about officer issues. Company officers are in a supervisory position, and they can’t discipline and be your ‘buddy’ at the same time.
    From a labor standpoint, the only position being getting cut, is firemen; at least that’s the case here. No one ever comes out and say lets cut the boss position, it's always the number of firefighters. Unless you're going to change the job description of a boss, they are a supervisor, a safety position,and not a working position, on paper. Firemen are the workers; they put out the fires, firemen take the blood pressures, and they maintain quarters, not the officers. The system isn’t working the way it is now, with the officers in our local. There have been no officer position cuts in the last three years, yet there have been close to 150 firefighter jobs eliminated. That is a drastic change in our working conditions that my local has been unable to deal with, and prevent.
    I will absolutely argue that chiefs don’t belong in a firefighters union. Our chief of department is the one who is cutting us, and our other chiefs fall right in line with his moves. In fact, way back in 1982, when my local went on strike, it was the battalion level and deputy level chiefs who scabbed. You absolutely can not be management and labor; you HAVE to be one or the other.
    This last statement is why I say it can be argued that company level officers should have their own local, as they are mid-level management. Their authority will actually increase, as they will not have to worry about doing their job the right way. Now, with everyone in the same local, when a company officer writes a fireman up for tardiness, or enforces a uniform standard, and the firefighter files a grievance, it is truly brother against brother. The boss needs to do their job without being concerned about friendship. The quasi-military format loses it's teeth with friendship and buddies. Yes, we are both serving the public, but rules need to be enforced. With a seperate local, each group has their own best interests represented, and that makes us stronger.
    My point is simply that company officers and chiefs belong in the IAFF, just not in the same locals as firefighters. There is a difference between the two, and it doesn’t weaken your negotiating position to have separate associations.
    Company level officers most certainly deserve representation, as do chiefs, and firefighters.
    Last edited by jasper45; 03-03-2007 at 07:02 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper45 View Post
    There is a difference between the two, and it doesn’t weaken your negotiating position to have separate associations.
    Right. The mutts in City Hall would never pit two groups of firefighters (regardless of rank) against each other.
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    Right. The mutts in City Hall would never pit two groups of firefighters (regardless of rank) against each other.

    Hey, the model is already out there, and it works, check it out sometime. Our city police also have their own supervisors association and officers association. They are very successful, and have far less bickering than we do with one local.
    Besides, we already have mutts in white shirts here, looking to sell their mothers grave for an extra bugle. We don't need city hall for divisiveness.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasper45 View Post
    I realize this post wasn’t directed at me with a name, but it is implied. I already posted that I don’t want chiefs in my local, and I also said that the same argument could be made about company officers in the local, and since my ‘fire ground’ ability has been questioned, I will respond.

    I have no problem with authority, and my position actually makes authority stronger for a boss. A firefighters association should only have to worry about firefighter issues, and the officers association is likewise only concerned about officer issues. Company officers are in a supervisory position, and they can’t discipline and be your ‘buddy’ at the same time.
    From a labor standpoint, the only position being getting cut, is firemen; at least that’s the case here. No one ever comes out and say lets cut the boss position, it's always the number of firefighters. Unless you're going to change the job description of a boss, they are a supervisor, a safety position,and not a working position, on paper. Firemen are the workers; they put out the fires, firemen take the blood pressures, and they maintain quarters, not the officers. The system isn’t working the way it is now, with the officers in our local. There have been no officer position cuts in the last three years, yet there have been close to 150 firefighter jobs eliminated. That is a drastic change in our working conditions that my local has been unable to deal with, and prevent.
    I will absolutely argue that chiefs don’t belong in a firefighters union. Our chief of department is the one who is cutting us, and our other chiefs fall right in line with his moves. In fact, way back in 1982, when my local went on strike, it was the battalion level and deputy level chiefs who scabbed. You absolutely can not be management and labor; you HAVE to be one or the other.
    This last statement is why I say it can be argued that company level officers should have their own local, as they are mid-level management. Their authority will actually increase, as they will not have to worry about doing their job the right way. Now, with everyone in the same local, when a company officer writes a fireman up for tardiness, or enforces a uniform standard, and the firefighter files a grievance, it is truly brother against brother. The boss needs to do their job without being concerned about friendship. The quasi-military format loses it's teeth with friendship and buddies. Yes, we are both serving the public, but rules need to be enforced. With a seperate local, each group has their own best interests represented, and that makes us stronger.
    My point is simply that company officers and chiefs belong in the IAFF, just not in the same locals as firefighters. There is a difference between the two, and it doesn’t weaken your negotiating position to have separate associations.
    Company level officers most certainly deserve representation, as do chiefs, and firefighters.
    Brother Jasper..this was not directed at you.. the parties in question happen to be in my own local.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 03-04-2007 at 12:58 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnny46 View Post
    This is about the Fing stupidest thing I've ever heard. We complain that the chiefs forget where they're from, yet we typically want them out of unions? Any member of the department who ahs taken the oath is duty bound to enter a hazard zone. They are not "management" in the typical sense of the word.

    As soon as we draw a distinction, WE put firefighters outside of our community. WE make them not "us." It's foolish.
    I have no problem with our BCs being in our union, but how about as officers in the union? Can they really play both sides and wear both hats successfully? My BC gave me threats and gag orders and he was a union officer over my worker's comp case. Where do you go when you that happens to you? Your union? Oh, ya, he is your union. So, let them in the union, but not as officers in the union. There needs to be some separation.

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    Default overdue reply

    After a week, I figured there'd be no responses.

    O.K., I am management, upper echelon, or whatever you want to call it. I was a union member for 12 years, and have been non-union for 8.

    I never forgot where I came from, and the union often states I'm the only one from "the other side of the table" who is on their side, which in itself is a problem.

    I am also a former Marine infantryman, and know the command structure in that respect, its successes and limitations. To me, it's the best structure in the world.

    Now, for the one who claims this is "command" or "paramilitray" and not "management versus labor." There are differences, and you're right, "be careful what you ask for."

    The problems I see is a uniformity with the chain of command. It is a well understood principle that in a "command" structure, as one put it, that the lower ranks have a complete understanding that orders, when lawful, are to be obeyed without question, right?

    Well, I believe it is one of any union's responsibilities to negotiate for pay, benefits, and security of its members. For years, our union, and I can only speak to mine, while in meetings, will cast open statements that the "chief," or "white shirts," or whetever nomenclature you prefer, are never on their side. Never have their backs.

    Those types of statements are what cast doubt and a lack of faith in the integrity of the command structure, and when your top department-ranking members, be they Captains, BCs or Shift Commanders, sit in and fail to quell that kind of talk, they are in effect contributing to it.

    Now remember they are in "brother" capacity, and can't infringe in open discussion due to their rank, which at that time doesn't exist.

    I can't even imagine a meeting to include my platoon commander (LT), my company commander (CAPT), and my battalion commander (LTCOL) all present while fireteams and squads say how the regimental and division COs and the Commandant don't give a crap about the little guys, all the while my COs that are sitting next to me are hearing this, and sometimes contributing to it. It would never, ever happen, which is why it works.

    I believe officers should be out of the union, or at least BCs. The lower ranks should absolutely believe their superiors have their backs, and would never put them in jeporady. If someone feels otherwise due to a complete lack of confidence in their superiors, then it is already too late.

    For those who've never served in the military, it is hard to envision how strict the system is about insubordination and/or insolence. Within our union, it is "freedom of speech."

    All members of the department should respect the structure, keep bitching only on an "uphill" direction, and openly support the wishes of their superiors to their subordinates. I find it hard to see how that can happen with the atmosphere some of you have drawn about your superiors.

    So, I guess the answer is that most of you have lower-level chief officers in the union. Thanks.
    Last edited by mcnally; 03-13-2008 at 03:03 PM.
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    Default Imho

    In my humble union opinion the answer to the question of should BCs be in the union (or same bargaining unit as suppression) boils down to who is in charge of discipline. A key role of the union is to protect it's members from unfair, inconsistent discipline amoung other things. Depending on the structure of a given department the BC's are often in charge of discipline. While it can be argued that a captain may be the first level decision maker typically in the progressive discipline model they are only involved in verbal warnings, verbal reprimands and written reprimands but substantial discipline (i.e. time of w/o pay, y-rating, termination, etc.) typically falls into the role of BC, admin or higher.
    Protecting the rights of, and providing representation for, both parties would become a conflict of interest for the stewards and union itself. Given the situation that the BCs were not in charge of discipline, and this responsiblity fell into someone else's role (such as an ***. Chief) then it would be more resonable to allow them into the unit.
    In the experiences on our department of approx 50 union members that at one time included our BCs... there was coersion and intimidation which occured at general membership meetings thus requiring the use of secret ballots and the sense of members at large not feeling free to express there feelings at the podium or during open florr discussion. Just one of the reasons that our BCs were voted out of our union years ago.

    don't get me wrong... we're all brothers. But some brothers are closer than others.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slocityhoseman View Post
    In my humble union opinion the answer to the question of should BCs be in the union (or same bargaining unit as suppression) boils down to who is in charge of discipline. A key role of the union is to protect it's members from unfair, inconsistent discipline amoung other things. Depending on the structure of a given department the BC's are often in charge of discipline. While it can be argued that a captain may be the first level decision maker typically in the progressive discipline model they are only involved in verbal warnings, verbal reprimands and written reprimands but substantial discipline (i.e. time of w/o pay, y-rating, termination, etc.) typically falls into the role of BC, admin or higher.
    Protecting the rights of, and providing representation for, both parties would become a conflict of interest for the stewards and union itself. Given the situation that the BCs were not in charge of discipline, and this responsiblity fell into someone else's role (such as an ***. Chief) then it would be more resonable to allow them into the unit.
    In the experiences on our department of approx 50 union members that at one time included our BCs... there was coersion and intimidation which occured at general membership meetings thus requiring the use of secret ballots and the sense of members at large not feeling free to express there feelings at the podium or during open florr discussion. Just one of the reasons that our BCs were voted out of our union years ago.

    don't get me wrong... we're all brothers. But some brothers are closer than others.
    As a Deputy and a member of my Local...

    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.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 04-26-2008 at 03:50 PM.
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    Default Chief = NON Union

    How many supervisors outside the fire service are in the same union as their own "subordinates"?

    Anyone with a chief title means non-union. Or at least not the same local!

    NO union local can be a chief or even a captain. way too much on the line.

    Gonzo: who is interpreting the rules? exactly.

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    BCs and above are out of the union, here.

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