1st District Vice President
This report is respectfully submitted in accordance with Article VI, Section 7 of the International Association of Fire Fighters Constitution and By-Laws. This report contains a summary of my activities as 1st District Vice President from September 2016 to April 2018.
On behalf of the 1st District, I would like to extend a heartfelt welcome to all the delegates and guests attending the 2018 IAFF Convention in Seattle. It is an honor to be serving as 1st District Vice President as we celebrate our union’s centennial. For 100 years we fought on behalf of our brothers and sisters throughout the United States and Canada. Every day our fights get tougher, but our membership gets stronger. We continue to provide quality education and resources to our members. In addition, we have an extremely knowledgeable and resourceful executive board led by our General President Harold Schaitberger and General Secretary-Treasurer Edward Kelly. They continually support the 1st District, and I know they support the entire IAFF.
During my first term I attended state conventions, executive board meetings and membership meetings in New York and New Jersey. This year we will be host our inaugural 1st District PEP Event. It will be held at the end of June in White Plains, New York. I anticipate a large turnout and look forward to bringing the event to New Jersey in 2019. We will also hold a 1st District Caucus Event in conjunction with the PEP event to discuss convention resolutions and business for the district.
Politics continues to play an important role in our success, and we made significant progress in both New York and New Jersey. I encouraged more members to get involved politically and to participate in the very successful IAFF FIREPAC. FIREPAC provided crucial support for our IAFF endorsed candidates in both states.
The IAFF provided various training programs throughout the district since the last convention. Peer support training, social media and public relations, Haz-Mat, affiliate leadership courses and legal training just to name a few. These training programs are important for the future because we have new affiliate leaders getting elected to lead their local. We must continue to provide these classes so that incoming leaders can do their jobs effectively.
Unfortunately, one of the realities of our job as both leaders and fire fighters is dealing with tragedy. On a regular basis we are reminded of the horrible events which occurred on 9/11. Too many members continue to get sick and as a result, they are dying in record numbers. Most of them are members of Local 94 and 854, but there are many outside those locals that are also suffering and dying. Fortunately, the IAFF helped to ensure passage of a permanent 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. In addition, efforts by the IAFF to prevent cancer in fire fighters should be commended. We can never eliminate all the dangers, but we must do everything we can to mitigate them.
The NYSPFFA increased its activity with President Fresina and his executive board in place. There has been a lot of success on the legislative front for both the NYSPFFA and the NYC locals. In September 2016, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that restored disability benefits for members of Local 854 and 94. The IAFF provided crucial support through E18 and FIREPAC to make that happen. In addition, this past year, an extended filing deadline was passed and signed for members of the NYSPFFA in the NYS LP&FRS. Members now have five years after retirement to file for cancer benefits.
The NYSPFFA also recently moved to biennial conventions. In its place, they will be setting aside one day at the beginning of the 1st District PEP Event to conduct any outstanding business. They also increased the number of educational opportunities throughout the year. They worked closely with the IAFF communications and media department. Most importantly, they worked closely to defeat the NYS Constitutional Convention Ballot Referendum. E-18 produced videos and the messaging and targeted communications was provided by the strategic campaign department.
The Guardian Policy and EDF helped locals fight back against attacks. Recently, the Guardian Policy case in Port Chester, NY was settled after a lengthy fight. While we were not successful in getting eight members reinstated, the members received financial compensation. We will continue to monitor the situation in Port Chester and will push to re-establish professional fire fighters if the political climate changes.
After eight long years, the tenure of former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is over. With strong support from the PFANJ led by President Marino, Phil Murphy was elected governor and was sworn in this past January. The IAFF provided support through FIREPAC and worked closely with the PFANJ to ensure our efforts were effective. Members of the IAFF and PFANJ had great difficulty working with Christie. They look forward to working with Governor Murphy.
The communications and media department created a strategic campaign to reinforce the value of the IAFF and PFANJ to the members and market both organizations to fire fighters in New Jersey who are not members. This campaign is just getting started, and we hope to be signing up new members soon.
In Atlantic City Local 198 had conflict with a Christie appointee. The individual supervised the finances of Atlantic City. He ordered cuts to compensation and attempted to lay off members. Fortunately, the IAFF Guardian Policy was in place, and we were able to resist the layoffs. The IAFF provided direct legal representation through the Guardian Policy, and every department provided help from peer support to municipal financial analysis. Governor Murphy agreed to replace Christie’s appointee and hopefully will find someone who will work cooperatively with Local 198.
A PFRS Pension takeover bill continues to be pushed by some other groups in New Jersey. The original bill was extremely flawed, and the IAFF and PFANJ member locals voiced strong opposition to the measure. However, both the Senate and Assembly passed the legislation.
As expected, Governor Christie issued a conditional veto that made a bad bill even worse. The changes he demanded were unacceptable to all stakeholders, and as a result the bill died. As expected, the bill was resurrected with the incoming administration. The PFANJ knew this bill would move quickly through the Senate and Assembly so they offered amendments based on comments from the IAFF Pension Department and Robert Klausner. The bill passed, and we expect Governor Murphy will issue a conditional veto with changes that will be unacceptable to everyone.
In closing, I want to thank the entire IAFF staff for always being responsive to members of the 1st District. I look forward to serving the membership for another two years and will always fight for them.