2nd District Vice President
The IAFF 2nd District continues to record many accomplishments thanks to the commitment and dedication of the 2nd District staff and support from General President Harold Schaitberger, General Secretary-Treasurer Edward Kelly and the outstanding IAFF staff in Washington, D.C. We also have our hot spots and are fighting the good fight.
Over the last few years, we assisted locals in several areas including grievances, discipline matters, terminations, hearings, politics, grants, staffing, retirement, FLSA violations, FMLA concerns, and negotiations. We also continue to host a District 2 symposium and leadership training program annually in the fall. The affiliates continue to embrace the value of learning and networking afforded by assembling the district together. This year the effect of state legislation overall and throughout the district was much better and less of an attack on our members. Last year was brutal given the kinds of policies that were proposed against public employees. We dodged most of potential adverse outcomes because of outstanding advocacy efforts inside each state capital. We also shared registered some victories in terms of helpful legislation that was passed.
Below is a report given by each respective president in the 2nd District. Nebraska President Darren Garrean, Missouri President Sherwood Smith, Kansas President Bob Wing and Iowa President Doug Neys each offered reports on progress in their states. I would also like to thank all leaders of state organizations and local affiliates throughout the entire 2nd District. They continue to do a phenomenal job. As always, our success is a product of a total team effort.
The last two years for the Nebraska Professional Fire Fighters Association were tumultuous and rewarding. We fought off many devastating blows and scored several wins. I firmly believe the NPFFA fights way above its weight class thanks to relationships we built and resources we obtained from the IAFF.
In May 2017, Grand Island Local 647 hosted an IAFF peer support class open to everyone. We also fought off nine layoffs in Grand Island Local 647.
In Hamilton County EMS Association Local 4956 the fight to get our first contract led to more than five years of litigation. We have gone to the NE Supreme Court for recognition, and the county voted to eliminate EMS service for the community. We are fighting this battle with every resource we have. We hope to move this to a city-operated fire and EMS service so that the community will receive the services it needs and our hard-working members can continue to be employed.
We had an immunization issue arise where a fire fighter got hired with no immunization records and no intention of getting immunized. During this process, everyone has garnered education on the IAFF position on immunizations, which is that all fire fighters be immunized consistent with NFPA 1581 and 1582.
We worked with Attorney General Doug Petersen on the opioids epidemic and with Senator Morfeld on a PSA. Working with the attorney general is something we do not generally need to do, but times are changing and we continue to build our relationships with state officials.
We had members from NPFFA treated at the IAFF Center for Excellence with positive outcomes.
One local reported that city officials placed cameras inside fire stations, including in the living quarters. This is currently being debated by members and opposed.
We have had multiple LODDs.
Rob Taylor from Fremont Local 1015, Jedd Bohlender from Grand Island Local 647, David A Luedtke from Lincoln Local 644, and Matt Vinderfecht from Omaha Local 385 , , , placed Rich Livengood’s name on the wall after confirmation was LODD from 2014.
We had mixed results with multiple legislative issues. We were able to defeat what could have been devastating policy measures.
LB 30 was introduced and would have made it illegal to have a defined benefit plan for fire fighters in Nebraska. The Retirement Security Initiative paid lobbyists in the state more than $15,000 per month to push their agenda of eliminating our defined benefit plan. We worked hard with the IAFF, Omaha, and Lincoln to make sure this did not happen. We defeated this proposal as it never came out of committee during the legislative session.
LB 503 (paycheck deception) and LB 598 (Changes to Commission of Industrial Relations) were killed. LB 598 would have changed the array settings with the Commission – completely changing comparable and how they are determined.
LB 72 (Bond Priority) and LB 578 (Ground Emergency Medical Transport) were both passed.
LB 444 (Work Comp) would prohibit a city from dropping a fire fighter’s? insurance while the individual was recovering from a work-related injury. This legislation did not seem necessary, but it became law.
LB 737 (First Responders Education Bill) would have given a tuition credit to fire fighters who are taking college courses. This bill died because of its fiscal impact and lack of time.
LB 1003 (Military Leave Bill) would increase the number of military leave hours for our members. This is awaiting the governor’s signature to become law.
The NPFFA was able to have former NPFFA President and Omaha Local 385 President Emeritus elected into the Nebraska legislature. We also have a current IAFF Member Francis Kuehler running for the state legislature, and Doug Backens, who is running for County Board of Supervisors.
Our political engagement at all levels is one of the key reasons why we are successful.
Several changes involving the Missouri State Council of Fire Fighters and the state of Missouri occurred since the last IAFF Convention in 2016.
Former MSCFF President resigned due to being promoted out of the bargaining unit. MSCFF 1st District Vice President Sherwood Smith was elected to complete President Kelly’s term as president until the MSCFF Convention. President Smith was reelected at the 2017 MSCFF Convention. At the convention Secretary-Treasurer Kirk Lair did not seek reelection. Ken Mitchell from St Louis City, was elected secretary-treasurer. Lair was voted Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus. Two months in to his term, Mitchell resigned. and Norman Baker from Cape Girardeau was elected to succeed him.
On the political front, the MSCFF continued its fight against paycheck deception and recertification measures in each of the adjoining years. We have been successful thus far and continue to garner support from both parties to have public safety stripped from the paycheck and recertification language. In 2018, legislation was filed that contained PTSD and cancer presumptive language. With support from Governor Eric Greitens we believed we had a good chance of lobbying this language to passage. However, Greitens is under investigation for legal and political troubles of his own which stymied our efforts. His political future will have some bearing on how we proceed.
IAFF DVP Mark Woolbright continues to offer our affiliates educational opportunities. Proudly, our members and leadership have taken full advantage of these benefits.
Although the number of affiliates remained the same in the state, local affiliates continued to organize departments into their respective locals. The total MSCFF membership surpassed 5,900 members.
Legislation introduced during the 2017 and 2018 sessions of the Kansas Legislature include:
- Modification of the language addressing the Kansas Police and Fire pension system to increase the benefit received by retiring members of police and fire from 90 percent of the individual’s final average salary to 100 percent. This proposal received a committee hearing in 2018 in both the House and Senate and was voted favorably out of the Senate committee unanimously for consideration by the full Senate.
- Legislation was introduced in both houses that expands existing language regarding cancer presumption covering duty related disability pensions under for police and fire. This proposal received a committee hearing in both the House and Senate this year and was voted favorably out of the House committee unanimously for consideration by the full House.
Other pending legislation includes:
- Recognizing PTSD as a duty related injury or illness under for police and fire. and
enhancing coverage under Workers’ compensation.
Local union issues/activities:
- Wichita Local 135 hosted a very successful peer support certification class in August 2017. The event was well attended by both the rank and file and staff members representing multiple fire departments from across the state.
- The 2017 KSCFF conference was hosted by IAFF Local 2119, Hays, Kansas and was a huge success. The delegates in Hays voted to hold the 2018 conference in Kansas City, hosted by IAFF Local 64.
- Congratulations to all local affiliates who had successful local elections in the fall of 2017. A special congratulation to members of IAFF Local 64, Kansas City, for voting out former Mayor Mark Holland, who was unsupportive of fire fighters and electing Mayor David Alvey, a strong supporter of fire fighters. Alvey’s initial action as mayor was to assure the citizens and fire fighters of Kansas City that no fire companies or fire stations would be eliminated during his administration in contrast to proposals by Holland.
- IAFF locals in Topeka Local 83, Wichita Local 135 and Junction City Local 3309 were among the other Kansas affiliates who experienced successful local elections.
In conclusion, all IAFF affiliates and members in Kansas would like to thank the leadership of the IAFF, General President Harold Schaitberger, General Secretary-Treasurer Edward Kelly, and specifically 2nd District Vice President Mark Woolbright for their continued efforts and support.
We added one new local and merged another department in to an existing local, increasing our membership by about 30.
We are also in talks with a few other employee groups with the potential to add another 40 to 50 new members.
We expanded our social media footprint on Facebook and Twitter, adding nearly 2,000 followers this year. We continue to expand our use of these platforms to assist local and statewide issues.
We are continuing to work through collective bargaining changes that were implemented in 2017. The locals who were required to recertify all did so with a 96 percent “yes” vote. Locals that will be losing dues deduction are either switching to the IAFF SMART platform or finding another to collect dues. It will take another three to four years before all our locals complete making dues deduction changes.
Fortunately, there was no bad pension legislation introduced during this session, most likely because it is an election year. After collective bargaining, legislators did not want to generate controversy this session. They did, however, hold special meetings outside the normal legislative process where out-of-state, right wing groups were brought in to redefine what constitutes a “healthy and sustainable” pension. This is a clear attempt to bring these radical ideas into the public policy arena and solidify their talking points for future pension reform measures.
We did get a ground emergency medical transport (GEMT) bill through this year. This will provide supplemental reimbursement for our departments who provide ground transport through the Medicaid program.
Health and Welfare
We hosted one IAFF peer support training class and will be hosting another later this year. The body resolved to host three in total at last year’s convention.
We have created a committee and began discussions to evaluate the creation of a health care trust for our members. The goal is to provide more affordable and better healthcare benefits for our retiree’s and to get our health care benefits away from employer control and out of the collective bargaining process for our current members.
The next governor’s election is our first priority. We have been highly engaged and had great participation from our members in support for our candidate. Our locals have stepped up with both PAC dollars and membership participation.
Lastly, on behalf of the IAFF 2nd District I would like to congratulate all the IAFF affiliate members and leadership on our IAFF 100th Anniversary and thanks to all our predecessors whose courageous advances and victories that they won that we all enjoy today.
This concludes the 2nd District 54th IAFF Convention Report.