11th District Report


Sandy McGhee
11th District Vice President

In accordance with the International Association of Firefighters Constitution and By-Laws Article VI, Section 3, I am respectfully submitting to the officers and delegates assembled at the 54th IAFF Convention in Seattle, Washington, this report of my activities as the District 11 Vice President. My report covers the period from September 2016 through April 2018.

General President Schaitberger has appointed me to Chair the Emergency Disputes Fund/Legal Services committee and the Government and Political Affairs committee. I have been re-appointed as Vice-chair of the Budget and Committee. I have also been re-appointed as a committee member to the Executive Board Education and Training Committee, the Emergency Medical Services Committee, the Fallen Firefighter Memorial Committee, and the Information and Technology Systems Committee. During the reporting period I have retained my appointment to the IAFF Financial Corporation’s Board of Directors. For 2018 I have been appointed to the Executive Board Ad Hoc resolutions committee.

During this reporting period, I have attended all IAFF Executive Board meetings, committee meetings, conferences, and seminars as expected and required.  I have also attended as many Texas State Association of Firefighters and Professional Firefighters of Oklahoma Executive Board meetings as possible. In addition, I also attended the Southern Federation of Professional Firefighters Conference in 2017. I was unable to attend the 2016 Southern Fed conference due to a scheduling conflict.

District 11 continues to grow.  The district has seen the addition of several new locals. I frequently field inquiries from potential new affiliates and the organizing efforts are continuous as we pursue our goal of representing every paid fire department in the great states of Texas and Oklahoma. Since the 53rd IAFF Convention, the following new locals have been added to District 11.

Charter Date               Local Name                                                              Local #             State  

07-01-2016                  Willow Park Firefighters Association                          4745                TX

08-01-2016                  Jarrell Professional Firefighters Association               5104                TX

12-06-2016                  Cibolo Professional Firefighters Association              5117                TX

12-12-2016                  Professional Firefighters of Choctaw                          5114                OK

04-03-2017                  Vernon Professional Firefighters Association             1207 *             TX

05-01-2017                  Manchaca Firefighters Association                             5128                TX

07-11-2017                  Hook and Ladder 3 Pro. Firefighters Association       5140                TX

12-01-2017                  Celina Professional Firefighters Association               5153                TX

12-05-2017                  Professional Firefighters of Princeton                        5155                TX

12-11-2017                  Hutchins Fire Rescue                                                  5157                TX

01-10-2018                  Van Alstyne Professional Firefighters Association     5151                TX

02-01-2018                  Cloverleaf Professional Firefighters Association        5163                TX

*Original Local Number

The IAFF Center of Excellence behavioral health treatment facility designed for IAFF members was opened Spring 2017 in Marlboro, Maryland.  Our Center of Excellence treatment programs are solely for IAFF members who are suffering from PTSD, substance abuse, suicidal tendencies and other behavioral health issues. We quickly learned that most if not all medical plans with a behavioral health benefit require extensive co-pay or out of pocket expenses and some insurance plans do not provide behavioral health benefits at all.  Because of this insurance benefit limitation some firefighters may not be able to enter the treatment programs at our Center of Excellence and receive the best possible care for their behavioral health issues.

Our desire is to assist IAFF District 11 members who need treatment at the Center of Excellence with funding assistance for their co-pay or out of pocket expenses. With the cooperation and help of the Texas State Association of Firefighters and the Professional Firefighters of Oklahoma we have created the IAFF District 11 Benevolent Fund. Our Benevolent Fund Committee is made up of Texas and Oklahoma IAFF leaders who oversee the fund, disburse benefits and provide a detailed written report when necessary. A Board of Trustees audits the Fund and reports on their findings to the Fund Committee.

Currently the revenue source for the District 11 Benevolent Fund is a per capita tax of five cents per member per month.  Our Fund is incorporated and set up as a not for profit organization. We are currently working on converting the Fund into a charitable entity.

District 11 continues to perform at a high level in the IAFF’s Fill the Boot campaign for Muscular Dystrophy. The Mighty 11th has held the top spot in collections for several years. In 2016 District 11 firefighters collected $4,571,006 with Texas collecting $3,782,766 and Oklahoma $788, 240.  In 2017 District 11 collected $4,338,927 for MDA. Texas was again number one in total collections by state.  Nationally, in 2017 of the top ten affiliates in collections for Fill-the-Boot Houston L-341 was second with $436,639 and Dallas L-58 was third with $433,074.  San Antonio L-624 was sixth with $242,311 and Plano L-2149 was eighth and Tulsa L-176 was ninth with $185,401. I want to personally thank every affiliate that works so hard to collect for MDA. The IAFF is the largest single contributor to MDA. Through their efforts in Fill the Boot the firefighters in District 11 are changing the lives of those afflicted with neuromuscular disease. In fact, MDA has recently announced that six new drugs have received FDA approval to be used in the treatment of diseases in the MDA program.  Perhaps even more importantly, these new treatment options deliver an even greater sense of hope to MDA families who are counting on MDA and the medical and scientific communities to move forward with greater intensity than ever before.

Our mission of outfitting local affiliate leaders with the tools they need to be successful is ongoing. I believe education and training is critical to the long-term success not only of the 11th District, but also our Union. One of the best resources to accomplish the challenge of educating local union leaders is the material provided by the International’s Department of Training and Education. With the assistance of our District Field Service Representatives and various District Service Representatives, we continue to provide educational opportunities around the District where we deliver IAFF educational material to Union leaders. We have a District PEP event scheduled for October 2018 in Dallas, Texas. I appreciate the help and support of L-58 for hosting our event and working to ensure its success.

During the reporting period we have continued our work to build the local political operations of district affiliates. As a result, we have seen a significant increase in the number of affiliates who have established local PAC funds. This increase in the number of PAC’s across the district has had an enormous impact on our ability to advance the political agenda of firefighters.  Most recently we have worked with Assistant to the General President Governmental and Political Affairs, Dave Lang to roll out the Texas Triple Play PAC program. This trial program is a re-branding of our political operation where we are partnering with the Texas State Association of firefighters to inform District 11 members in Texas and encourage them to make regular monthly contributions to IAFF FIREPAC, TAFPAC, and their own local PAC. Part of our conversation about PAC giving centers around the fact that, organizationally, we have three PAC funds all owned by the membership and each operating at a different level of government. With the approval of the General President E-18 has created a video made with Texas firefighters where they talk about the importance of PAC giving and the critical necessity of having a viable local political operation.  This program is still in its infancy and I expect it to produce great results.

In November 2016 L-367 Texarkana, Texas became the most recent local in Texas to win the right to collectively bargain when the voters in Texarkana passed Texas Local Government Code Chapter 174 the Police and Fire Employee Relations Act. During the election process District Field Service Representative Joe Tellez was assigned to assist L-367. We were in Texarkana several times during this referendum election.  We consulted with the local, blocked walked, passed out literature, and manned a polling location on election day. With the assistance of TSAFF District 2 Vice President Steve Dorris and coordination work by DFSR Tellez several Texas locals sent members to assist L-367. TSAFF President John Riddle also lent his full support and worked in the election. On election day L-367 won by almost 76 percent. L-367 has now been recognized as the sole exclusive Bargaining Agent for Texarkana, Texas fire fighters and will begin bargaining their first contract in October 2018.

Arlington, Texas L-1329 won due process rights for L-1329 members in May 2017 when the voters of Arlington adopted Texas Local Government Code Chapter 143 Civil Service. Chapter 143 covers among others, rules and procedures for hiring, promotions, discipline, sick leave, and annual leave.  Our local did an outstanding job and ran a very effective campaign in a conservative city.  I participated in the election by block walking with our local and manning a polling location on election day. The TSAFF was also very involved in the election.  The city of Arlington made this election very ugly with their mud-slinging and personal attacks on our local president and the firefighters in general.  Since the election the city of Arlington has attacked our local to the point that General President Schaitberger approved Legal Guardian Policy coverage.  The city’s non-stop retaliatory actions have proven to be unprecedented. The Civil Service statute has an implementation period.  All the city’s actions listed below have been since Civil Service was adopted but before it has been implemented.

  • Since the election the city has refused to participate in Meet and Confer after November 27, 2017 essentially nullifying any agreements made in that process.
  • The city has eliminated EMT-I pay, Swing Pay (Pay one received for mileage when swinging from one station to another when reassigned in the morning), and Education pay below a Bachelor’s Degree. L-1329 members had previously been paid based on college hours completed, as well as a degree.
  • The city unilaterally eliminated all existing promotional lists for Apparatus Operator (Driver), Lieutenant, and Captain.  Because the city was eliminating existing sick, vacation and holiday balances October 31, the first day civil service became official, thirty of our members retired. With the retirement of these members before October 31, there were enough open positions to have promoted everyone on those promotional lists prior to civil service beginning. The local sent a formal letter to the chief requesting he promote these members before October 31, instead he eliminated the list.
  • Since the adoption of Civil Service, but before it has been implemented the city has required all sick leave to be substantiated, even though the city allows 72 hours of unsubstantiated time. The fire department has the most stringent sick leave policy in the city. The city has eliminated any existing sick leave balances a member may have above 180 hours and made the member start over fiscal year 2017-2018 with 180 sick leave hours.  Any remaining balance would be put in a members Family Medical Leave bank to be accessed only upon depleting all Sick, Vacation and Holiday hours if on FML.  Any remaining balance in this FML will not be paid out to the member upon retirement, only the balance in the members new civil service bank, up to 1080 hours.
  • The city council did a “bait and switch” ordinance reading between the first and second reading of an ordinance pertaining to this issue.  The Mayor threatened members on council who did not support this change that if they brought it up for a reconsideration vote, he would take the entire FML bank away from every fire fighter.
  • The city eliminated any existing vacation balance a member may have above a balance based on years of service.  Any remaining balance would then be put in an inaccessible bank for the member to be paid out at retirement at the 2017 rate.  All vacation hours were placed in a “use it or lose it” system.
  • The local had members on FML when the new FML rules were put in place. They started a ‘stand-in’ system to work for these members in an attempt for them to not have to draw down all their sick, vacation and holiday time. The department stepped in and said no stand-ins are allowed until a member has depleted all their sick, vacation and holiday time. L-1329 members have always been allowed to work “light duty” if they were off on workers compensation or had been injured or had surgery due to an off-duty event.  Since the election there is no more light duty, except for worker’s compensation issues. Members are being forced to use all their sick, vacation and holiday time.
  • The fire chief has put together a hand-picked group of members within the fire department to start an AFD “Stakeholder” Committee to address labor/management issues and circumvent L-1329.
  • In a show of power, the Chief simultaneously transferred over 1/3 of the fire department to different stations and shifts. All the previously mentioned benefit changes and moves are not applicable to deputy chiefs, assistant chiefs, the chief, or any non-civil service employees in the fire department.

The IAFF legal team is vigorously pursuing every remedy in this very troubling case. Never have I seen a city react with such blatant retaliation when one of our locals exercises its rights and wins a referendum election.

During this reporting period I continued to daily consult with the affiliate leaders in District 11. I worked as Interest arbitrator, consulted on grievance and disciplinary issues, and worked on negotiation issues for numerous locals in the district.  I worked with countless local affiliate leaders and assisted them as they faced the challenges of leading a local union. I consulted with and assisted directly with the locals that pursued, worked and ran referendum elections.

Our ongoing alliance with strategic media consultant Erin Powers, of Powers MediaWorks LLC, continues to pay dividends for firefighters in District 11. Erin’s expertise in media relations has proven to be invaluable. His firm consults with the Texas State Association of Fire Fighters and several locals in the district.  In each case, the relationship with our local and the media in that city or town has drastically improved. Erin shares the goals of firefighters and the IAFF. He also works well with IAFF media staff to ensure a consistent message and operation. Most recently Erin has joined L-4711 member and IAFF Communications Training Academy alumnus Braden Frame in delivering Communications work shops around the state of Texas. These workshops, held at the scheduling of the Texas State Association are proving to be a valuable tool in improving local affiliate communications programs. I participate as my schedule permits.

I want to thank General President Schaitberger for his leadership, guidance and advice he has given me over the years.  It has proven to be invaluable, and I am very appreciative. I also want to thank General Secretary-treasurer Ed Kelley for his support. After his election in 2016 GST Kelley has hit the ground running bringing new and innovative programs and ideas to the office of our General Secretary-treasurer.

Words are not adequate to express my sincere appreciation to all the staff in every department at the IAFF. Thank you for your outstanding work. I appreciate your assistance, and all that you do for this International and the members of District 11.

I would be remiss if I did not thank the leadership of the two outstanding state associations in District 11 for all the support and great work that is done on behalf of IAFF members in Texas and Oklahoma. President John Riddle and Secretary-treasurer Brandon Day lead a great organization in Texas that provides outstanding service in all the areas that affect professional firefighters. In Oklahoma, President Ricky Burns and recently elected Secretary-treasurer Curtis Maloy an Executive Board of seven Vice Presidents are always on the frontlines for Oklahoma firefighters. To both organizations, keep up the good fight.

Congratulations to PFFO Secretary-treasurer Emeritus Jim Long. In January 2018, after more than twenty years in office, Jim did not seek re-election as the Secretary-Treasurer for the PFFO. Over the course of his Union career Jim Long consistently displayed honor, integrity, and tenacity as he worked diligently on behalf of firefighters. Thank you, Jim, for your work!

District Field Service Representatives Joe Tellez and Rick Beams are outstanding union leaders and great assets to all the affiliates in District 11.  I thank them for their loyalty and commend their efforts and commitment to advance the agenda of professional firefighters. Without the support and hard work of these two exceptional leaders in the district who have shown an unwavering commitment to improving the overall well-being of professional firefighters, I would not be able to do my job or deliver the service that is deserved by the members of the 11th District.

With the blessing and support of my wife Tina, my family, and my home local Tulsa Firefighters Local 176, I remain humbled by the experience and truly honored to serve as the IAFF District 11 Vice President. Thank you!