5th District Report


Thomas Thornberg
5th District Vice President 

In accordance with the International Association of Fire Fighters Constitution and By-Laws, Article VI, Section 7, I respectfully submit this report as 5th District Vice President to General President Harold Schaitberger, General Secretary-Treasurer Edward Kelly, the IAFF Executive Board and all officers and delegates to the 54th IAFF Convention in Seattle, Washington. This report is a summary of my assignments and activities as 5th District Vice President from August 2016 to April 2018.

I had the honor and privilege to serve the IAFF members of the 5th District since our last convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, when I was re-elected District Vice President by acclamation. I have been appointed by the General President to serve on the following committees: Grants Administration-HazMat/WMD (chair); Emergency Disputes Fund and Legal Services (vice chair); Canadian Affairs; Communications, Media and E18; Emergency Medical Services; Information and Technology Systems; and Technical Assistance/Information Resources. I also serve as the chairman of the IAFF Labor/Employee Assistance Programs standing committee. I am a Board Member of the IAFF Financial Corporation. At this convention, I am serving as chair of the Legislative Committee. I attended all IAFF conferences, seminars, meetings that I have been authorized to attend in addition to the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Service and far too many line of duty death funerals and memorials.

I traveled extensively within the 5th District and attended state conventions, conferences, seminars and meetings. I assisted many locals and state associations with negotiations, grievances, political action campaigns, FLSA disputes and pension issues. I helped organize several Fire Ops 101 programs.

In 2015 the 5th District held its first Partnership in Education Program (PEP). With the General President’s approval, we will be holding our fourth consecutive District PEP this May in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Our members really enjoy this opportunity to receive quality education close to home where it is more affordable for many locals.

5th District locals continue to take advantage of the IAFF Political Training Academy and the Communications Academy. Members attended every one these great opportunities to enhance their abilities in these crucial areas.

Over the past two years the IAFF provided hundreds of municipal financial analyses (MFAs) and wage comparisons, several geographical information system (GIS) studies within the 5th District. This data helped locals improve wages, benefits and working conditions for their members.

The district field service representatives (DFSRs) and service representatives working side by side with the IAFF department staff provided hundreds of hours of service to locals in every aspect of our jobs. Locals continue to use every department and every service available to them from the IAFF and those departments continue to offer the highest quality service that can be found anywhere.

The 5th District is still growing. We added five new locals and two new affiliates to locals since our last convention. This is a great trend that has continued for several years despite the forces we are battling to maintain unions as a strong voice for workers.

Locals in the district continue to stay involved in their communities not only with the work we do and through political advocacy, but also through charitable work. Locals in the 5th District lead the IAFF in Operation Warm – Coats for Kids. We are working with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) to fill the boot and attend MDA summer camps. Locals are also involved with many other charities within their communities which demonstrates even more our commitment to those we serve.

We have many IAFF 5th District members in political office at various levels of government, but this year I am very excited to have one of our own. Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin (PFFW) President and Madison Local 311 President Mahlon Mitchell is running for governor of Wisconsin. So far, Mahlon has been working very hard, and we are hopeful that he will not only be on the ballot next November but will become the next governor.

I am very proud of the work being done in the 5th District, which would not be possible without the work of our state associations, local leadership, district field service representatives and service representatives. I want to thank DFSRs Jerry Biggart and Mike (Woody) Woodzicka, Service Reps Jose Carbajal, Mike Eliason, Tom Johnson, Patrick Kilbane, Derek Matykowski, Darren Schimke, Greg Sikora, Lance Tryggestad and Scott Vadnais. The work you do for our members is invaluable.

I am also very proud to be part of the work being done at the IAFF. New and innovative programs are available for our members including FireCARES, IAFF SMART and our own Center of Excellence to name just a few of incredible reasons to belong to this great organization.

With the election of an unprecedented number of new IAFF Executive Board members at the 53rd Convention, it seems that we as a board are more energized than ever to come up with new ideas and programs to lead us into the future. I am honored to work alongside all of you.

In closing, I would like to thank General President Harold Schaitberger and General Secretary-Treasurer Ed Kelly for your leadership and friendship. You continue to take this union to new heights, and it is truly a pleasure to work with you both. I want to thank the entire staff at the IAFF — you are incredible! And last but certainly not least I want to thank my family, my two sons Kyle and Cody — both Fire Fighters and proud IAFF members — and my beautiful wife Cathy. Thanks for your love and support that allows me to do this work.

I wish all delegates a productive and successful convention, and to all gathered in Seattle, congratulations on a “Century of Progress Through Unity!”