14th District Vice President
Welcome from the 14th District to the delegates and guests assembled for the 2018 IAFF Convention. This report is submitted in accordance with the IAFF Constitution and by-laws and includes activities through April 10, 2018 to meet printing deadlines.
It is an honor to represent this district and the entire IAFF membership on the IAFF Executive Board. I served on the following committees: Budget and Finance; Canadian Affairs; Human Relations; Governmental, Political and Public Affairs; Occupational Health and Safety; Organizing and Field Services; Pension Committee; and a member of IAFF Financial Corporation Board. I also serve as chairperson for the IAFF Committee on Assistance to Non-Collective Bargaining States.
In representing the 14th District (Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee), I attended all executive board meetings, IAFF Legislative Conferences, Redmond/EMS Symposium, human relations conference, Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial services and affiliate leadership training summits since the last convention. I also attended state association conventions, legislative seminars and some state executive board meetings.
I also attended the 100th year anniversary event in Washington, DC. on February 28, 2018. I am proud that the district had six of the original locals that helped start the IAFF: Pine Bluff Local 14, Ft. Smith Local 33, Little Rock Local 34, North Little Rock Local 35, Memphis Local 39 (now 1784), and Mobile Local 62 (now 1349). We owe a debt of gratitude to those who came before us and laid the groundwork to make this profession and this IAFF better. They accomplished many things and it is shown in our 100-year history video. Our job is to continue this work to make things better for those working today and those who become members in the future.
I was privileged enough to participate in the MLK 50th Anniversary March in Memphis on April 4, 2018 led by General President Harold Schaitberger, General Secretary-Treasurer Edward Kelly, TPFFA President Eddie Mitchell, Memphis Local 1784 President Thomas Malone and hundreds of Memphis Local 1784 members. We marched to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his support for labor and to protest the zero-wage office from the city just days before.
Our district is thankful to have two very qualified and dedicated district field service Representatives, Thomas Malone and Pete Reagan. Brothers Malone and Reagan were involved in training seminars, organizing and assisting district locals with problems. They have also served as grant reviewers for FIRE Act and SAFER grants. They continue to provide a valuable service to the district and the IAFF.
The 14th District membership remains stable as of April 1, 2018 with 16,019 members in 195 locals. There continues to be interest in the IAFF despite the right-to-work laws in each state and the lack of favorable labor laws.
Currently there are two pension lawsuits in Tennessee, Memphis and Dyersburg, where changes were made to the pension benefits of incumbent employees. These changes conflict with a previous Tennessee Supreme Court ruling. The outcomes of these cases are important to all public employees in Tennessee.
State associations in Alabama and Louisiana were successful in fighting proposed legislation to changes in their pension systems. All states in the district have pursued and continue to pursue expansion of presumptive laws. Louisiana was successful in expanding their cancer presumptive law. Arkansas passed a cancer presumption which provides a death benefit.
In the Gulf Coast area of Mississippi and Alabama we have an internal organizing drive in Gulfport, Biloxi, Ocean Springs and Mobile.
Diminishing health insurance for retirees is a growing concern. Cities are shifting more of the expenses to retirees or dropping retirement coverage. This is causing our members to delay retirement.
In some areas pay is improving, and we see an increase in staffing. In other cities, pay is stagnant, and staffing shortages continue. We are combating these difficult areas using IAFF resources such as Municipal Financial Analyses and GIS mapping. Affiliates continue to utilize the IAFF Pension Department. Many departments are using FIRE ACT and SAFER grants to help their departments.
Our thanks to General President Schaitberger, General Secretary-Treasurer Kelly and the staff at IAFF headquarters for the service you provide to our membership every day. I am proud to be a member of the IAFF Executive Board and proud of all that we have accomplished. Thanks to all the members in the “IAFF Fighting 14th District” for the privilege of representing you.