15th District Vice President
In accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and By-Laws of the International Association of Fire Fighters, I respectively submit my report as 15th District Vice President for the period of September 1, 2016 to April 10, 2018.
During my term in office I attended all IAFF Executive Board meetings and served on various executive board committees at the request of the General President. It has been my pleasure to serve as chair of the Education and Training Committee, vice chair of the Canadian Affairs Committee and as a member of the Communications and Media and E-18, Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial, Organizing and Field Services, and Technical Assistance Committees. I also attended many other events which include the Canadian Legislative Conference, Canadian Policy Conference, Redmond Symposium, Affiliate Leadership Training Summits, Human Relations Conference, Atlantic Provinces Professional Fire Fighters Association (APPFFA) Convention and LODD services honoring our fallen fire fighters.
I have endeavored to provide the affiliate locals of the 15th District with the representation, support and assistance that our members deserve. This has been accomplished through local affiliate visits and meetings, telephone conversations and email correspondence. All requests for service from affiliate locals and the Atlantic Provinces Professional Fire Fighters Association were promptly addressed. Request for services have been addressed by myself, District Field Services Representative Larry Cook and District Services Representatives Paul Boyle and Glenn Sullivan. Affiliate local services were provided by utilizing IAFF resources to the best of our abilities.
Service to locals throughout the district included assistance with collective bargaining and attendance at collective bargaining sessions when requested. I was also happy to assist with requests regarding grievance and grievance arbitration, collective bargaining arbitration, public and media relations, occupational health and safety and behavioral health concerns.
Service was also provided for political action initiatives and government lobbying for improved presumptive laws and member benefits. I provided information and direction with respect to fire fighter wellness and fitness, duty to accommodate and disability management programs and advice regarding local administrative issues. Affiliates and the provincial association were able to access District PEP and Occupational Health and Safety training and programs. I am pleased to report that many of our members have also received training in peer support and behavioral health.
Over the past two years, this district encountered challenges in our attempt to maintain and improve benefits for our members and to ensure a safe work environment. Not unlike our brothers and sisters throughout the entire IAFF, we had to deal with threats to our wages and benefits, cutbacks and downsizing. Safe staffing, adequate equipment and PPE is a continual concern. Our members are being forced to do more with less.
Our much-deserved pension plans are under attack as employers attempt to reorganize our plans that forces our members to shoulder the greatest share of unfunded liabilities. Many of our local leaders are trying to preserve pension benefits and at the same time justify their pension plan benefits with the general public. Maintaining adequate staffing of fire fighters to safely provide fire and emergency services has also been a challenge. The constant pressure upon wage and benefits for members and the fight to protect what we have accomplished has been difficult for many local leaders. I commend them for their hard work and dedication in fighting for and ensuring that our members and their families get the benefits they deserve.
Despite the challenges and with the help of IAFF resources we secured wage increases for all locals through collective bargaining and interest arbitrations. We maintained and in many cases improved members benefits. We also held the line on station closures and downsizing. Through political action we halted negative changes to interest arbitration in both New Brunswick and Newfoundland. With the assistance of the APPFFA and local leadership we secured presumptive cancer legislation in Newfoundland and presumptive PTSD legislation in New Brunswick.
Since our last convention, we are fortunate to have the Montreal Fire Fighters re-affiliate with the IAFF. My congratulations and welcome to our new members from the province of Quebec. Likewise, I congratulate and welcome the Mirimachi, New Brunswick fire fighters who also affiliated. I worked closely with these two new locals to ensure a smooth transition and access to IAFF services. With these two affiliations and additions to existing locals the number of members in the district as increased by approximately 2,400. Organizing new members continues to be a priority.
I would like to thank the staff of the Canadian office for their continual hard work and dedication and their assistance to both myself and the district locals. As vice chair of the IAFF Canadian Affairs committee I had the opportunity to work on improvements to federal legislation and programs which affect our fire fighters on a national level. I also had the opportunity to work with the Canadian provincial presidents to propose programs and initiatives that will strengthen the fire service and protect our hard-earned benefits.
My term in office has been both rewarding and encouraging, and it could not have been done without the hard work, dedication and the cooperation of the many fire fighters throughout the district. I especially would like to thank the local union officers, local union leadership and the APPFFA Executive Board of the for your continued support and cooperation.
Thank you to General President Harold Schaitberger, General Secretary-Treasurer Edward Kelly and the excellent staff of the IAFF for their leadership, assistance and support during the past two years.
Many important resolutions will be presented to the delegates at this convention. I look forward to the interaction and the debate that comes with planning for our future. I trust that you will be fully engaged in providing this direction. I thank you for affording me the opportunity to represent you as your district vice president. Enjoy this convention experience and best wishes to you and your families.