Sandy McGhee
11th District Vice President

In accordance with the International Association of Firefighters Constitution and By-Laws Article VI, Section 3, I am respectfully submitting to the officers and delegates assembled virtually for the 55th IAFF Convention. This report of my activities as the District 11 Vice President covers the period from September 2018 through April 2020.

General President Schaitberger has appointed me to Chair the Emergency Disputes Fund/Legal Services committee and the Government and Political Affairs committee. I have been re-appointed as Vice-chair of the Budget and Finance Committee. I have also been re-appointed as a committee member to the Executive Board Education and Training Committee, the Emergency Medical Services Committee, the Fallen Firefighter Memorial Committee, and the Information and Technology Systems Committee. During the reporting period, I have retained my appointment to the IAFF Financial Corporation’s Board of Directors. For 2020, I have been appointed to the Executive Board Ad Hoc Resolutions committee.

During this reporting period, I have attended all IAFF Executive Board meetings, committee meetings, conferences, and seminars as expected and required. I have also attended as many Texas State Association of Firefighters and Professional Firefighters of Oklahoma Executive Board meetings as possible. I attended the 2019 Texas State Association of Firefighters convention, as well as the 2018 and 2019 Professional Firefighters of Oklahoma annual conventions.

Every Local Matters

The IAFF is made up of over 3,000 local affiliates. Each and every one of them is important to our Union. The vast majority of IAFF local affiliates have less than 100 members. Some may tend to think that the large affiliates or big cities get all of the attention and service from the IAFF. However, the IAFF does not differentiate between large locals and small locals. Every service provided by the IAFF is intended for every local affiliate, regardless of the size of the local. This approach to services and value reflects the thought that, as a labor union, what happens to one of us happens to all of us. There are no big me’s and little you’s in the IAFF. We are all in this together. A rising tide raises all boats. What happens in one area affects us everywhere else. What happens in one state affects us in other states. When one state legislature passes a bill that positively affects fire fighters, that makes it easier to pass that same law somewhere else. Conversely, that same principle holds true for the passage of laws that negatively affect us.

Over the past several years, we have been working in District 11 to ensure that our affiliate leaders and members understand this principle of unionism. To that end, we have been on the road in the district visiting local union officers and members where it matters the most, at the fire station around the kitchen table. We have delivered information about the resources of our union, discussed the issues, listened to the concerns, and made notes of the criticisms and complements.

For the reporting period, and together with the respective state association representatives, we have made a stop in the following cities and towns across District 11.

Alva Denison McKinney Stephenville
Amarillo Denton Mesquite Sulphur Springs
Argyle Duncanville Midland Sweetwater
Arlington Euless Midlothian Taylor
Athens Flower Mound Montgomery County* Temple
Balch Springs Forney Mt. Pleasant Terrell
Beaumont Frisco Nederland Texas City
Belton Garland Odessa The Villages
Big Spring Glenn Heights Orange The Woodlands*
Brenham Grand Prairie Palestine University Park
Bristow Grapevine Pampa Van Alstyne
Bristow Guymon Paris Vernon
Canton Hurst Pfluegerville Victoria
Carrolton Hutto Plainview Waco
Cedar Hill Irving Plano Waxahachie
Celina Jacksonville Port Arthur Weatherford
Chandler Jenks Richardson Wichita Falls
Clinton Killeen Rockwell Woodward
Cloverleaf Leander Rowlett *Met together

 

Organizing

District 11 continues to grow. I frequently field inquiries from potential new affiliates, and the organizing efforts are continuous as we pursue our goal of representing every paid fire department in the great states of Texas and Oklahoma. Since the 54th IAFF Convention, the following new locals have been added to District 11.

Charter Date Local Name Local # State
9/1/18 Argyle Professional Firefighters Association 5190 TX
10/1/18 Katy Professional Firefighters Association 5192 TX
11/1/18 Orange Co. Prof. Firefighters Association 4740* TX
12/10/18 White Settlement Professional Firefighters 5197 TX
2/11/19 Alamo Professional Firefighters Association 5206 TX
3/1/19 Gladewater Professional Firefighters Association 5210 TX
6/13/19 Professional Firefighters of Grove, OK 5231 OK
9/1/19 Berryhill Fire Protection District 5237 OK
9/1/19 Sunnyvale Professional Firefighters Association 5238 TX
12/1/19 Groves Professional Firefighters Association 1905* TX
1/1/19 Cy-Fair Professional EMS & Fire Association 5248 TX
1/1/20 Tomball Professional Firefighters Association 5249 TX
1/3/20 Melissa Professional Firefighters Association 5250 TX
1/14/20 Bexar-Wilson Prof. Firefighters Association 5253 TX
4/1/20 River Oaks Professional Firefighters Association 5264 TX

*Original Local Number

Working with Service Representative Steve Dorris and Assistant to the General President Mark Treglio we have developed a new organizing strategy for District 11. Using information obtained from the Texas Commission of Fire Protection, we have identified over 3,000 professional fire fighters in Texas that are working in fire departments that are not affiliated with the IAFF. The thought behind our new strategy centers around the question of, “how do we start our new affiliates off on the right foot?”

Our process is streamlined and straightforward. It is the same whether we are responding to an inquiry or we are reaching out to an unaffiliated fire department. The prospective new affiliate receives an information packet of IAFF services, what we expect is communicated to them and a meeting is set to discuss organizing with the IAFF.

Under our new strategy, we are expecting certain commitments from potential new locals. For example, even though not required, a potential new local must commit to the following:

  1. Joining their respective state association
  2. “Pass-through” budgeting
  3. A minimum per capita structure
  4. Operate with a budget
  5. A political action program

The process is simple. An electronic Charter Application is sent along with a District 11 Organizing Booklet. The organizing booklet details how the organizing process will work, provides a Strategic Plan, a Constitution and By-laws based on the IAFF sample but containing language that details our requirements and expectations, and a Best Practices section for successful local unions. This process has proven to be successful. We haven’t had any potential new affiliates balk at this new strategy. We believe starting a new local off on the right foot with an internal structure that sets them up for success is the best long-term solution for organizing.

Peer Support

As our union addresses the real issue of behavioral health, the International has partnered with experts to develop the IAFF our Peer Support Training program. Peer Support is the most sought -after training program in our regimen. To date, District 11 has over 500 members trained in this important program. Since inception Peer Support training has been delivered in the following District 11 jurisdictions.

11/15/16-11/16/16 Waco TX
07/25/17-07/26/17 Houston TX
10/09/17-10/10/17 Longview TX
01/24/18-01/25/18 Austin TX
09/06/18-09/07/18 Dallas TX
09/10/18-09/11/18 Oklahoma City OK
09/20/18-09/21/18 Plano TX
10/18/18-10/19/18 Garland TX
02/21/19-02/22/19 Garland TX
03/06/19-03/07/19 McKinney TX
05/30/19-05/31/19 PFFO held in OKC OK
07/25/19-07/26/19 Allen TX
08/15/19-08/16/19 Irving TX
09/16/19-09/17/19 Coppell TX
12/12/19-12/13/19 Frisco TX
03/05/20-03/06/20 Midwest City OK
03/05/20-03/06/20 Garland TX
02/27/20-02/28/20 Fort Worth TX

 

The IAFF District 11 Benevolent Fund was created in 2017. Since that time, the Fund has worked to assist fire fighters with out-of-pocket expenses related to care at our union’s IAFF Center of Excellence in Marlboro, Maryland.

The Center of Excellence is an IAFF fire fighter only campus dedicated to providing the best care for members suffering from injuries and illness associated with traumatic events, substance abuse, suicidal tendencies and other behavioral issues.

As an accredited facility by the Joint Commission and dually licensed by the State of Maryland, the center operates at the highest level of compassionate, fire fighter focused care. Unfortunately, it has taken years for the profit-driven insurance corporations to welcome our center into their networks. Combined with high deductibles, co-pays and travel expenses – the financial burden of care is often an obstacle to our members in crisis.

The IAFF District 11 Benevolent Fund works to assist members with costs related to travel and co-pays through direct payment grants. Eligibility for assistance is based on that member’s home local’s affiliation with their state association or individual local participation with the Fund.

Incorporated in the state of Oklahoma, registered with the IRS and approved as a 501c3 non-profit, tax-exempt charity. The Fund is compliant with all applicable state and federal reporting and regulatory law and rules.

The Benevolent Fund Corporate Board of Directors are IAFF District 11 Vice President Sandy McGhee, TSAFF President John Riddle, PFFO President Ricky Burns and TSAFF S/T Brandon Day. The Board of Directors are joined by the Fund Committee who are charged with the process, recommendation and distribution of grants from the fund. Additionally, the committee ensures a transparent and accountable annual audit and financial reporting process.

Since inception, Sandy McGhee (IAFF 11th DVP), John Riddle (TSAFF President), Ricky Burns (PFFO President), Jim Nance (L176-Tulsa), Joe Tellez (L51-El Paso, Ret), Curtis Maloy (PFFO S/T) and Brandon Day (TSAFF S/T) have served on the Benevolent Fund Committee.

The Fund currently operates with no salary or overhead except for routine accounting costs and report filing fees. No other expenses are incurred, placing the fund well within the highest industry standards and guidelines for tax-exempt charity organizations.

To date, the Fund has awarded 22 grants totaling $20,950.

In 2019 alone, the IAFF District 11 Benevolent Fund delivered assistance to 15 fire fighters. Looking to the future, the Fund must pursue additional benefactors and funding sources. Per capita tax is not an adequate long-term sustainable funding source for the needs of over 27,000 IAFF members across the district.

The Board of Directors are researching the cost of hiring a third-party fundraiser and actively pursuing support from District 11 local leaders to forge new corporate partnerships as long-term donor sources.

With IAFF fire fighters on the frontlines battling the intense stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic, and every day risking it all to provide the highest level of public safety, the District 11 Benevolent Fund is here for them. We stand ready to provide financial support when the mental traumatic injuries of the job demand the highest level of care.

The IAFF Center for Excellence and our District 11 Benevolent Fund will be there.

 MDA

District 11 continues to perform at a high level in the IAFF’s Fill the Boot campaign for Muscular Dystrophy. The Mighty 11th has held the top spot in collections for several years. In 2018, District 11 fire fighters collected $4,097,024. In 2019, District 11 collected $4,359,103 for MDA. The top 10 in collections within District 11 are as follows:

2018 2019
Houston L-341 $399,226 Houston L-341 $386,248
Dallas L-58 $391,534 Dallas L-58 $358,331
Plano L-2149 $219,675 Plano -L2149 $228,848
San Antonio L-624 $216,201 San Antonio L-624 $186,658
Oklahoma City L-157 $184,000 Oklahoma City L-157 $153,633
Midland L-4405 $125,359 Corpus Christi L-936 $116,827
Corpus Christi L-936 $105,314 Fort Worth L-440 $112,351
Fort Worth L-440 $94,675 El Paso L-51 $101,047
Irving L-2073 $80,077 Odessa L-1665 $94,560
Killeen L-2505 $76,752 Irving L-2073 $91,666

 

Nationally, in 2019, of the top 10 affiliates in collections for Fill the Boot, Houston L-341 was second with $386,248 and Dallas L-58 was third with $358,331. Plano was fifth with $228,848 and San Antonio L-624 was seventh with $186,658.

I want to personally thank every affiliate that works so hard to collect for MDA. The IAFF is the largest single contributor to MDA. For over 65 years, the IAFF MDA Fill the Boot program has proven itself to be a very valuable community involvement program for local affiliates. Not only do the collections fire fighters make have a very significant impact on the lives of people afflicted with this disease, but Fill the Boot is tailor-made for a local affiliate trying to improve their community involvement and public relations.

Through their efforts in Fill the Boot, the fire fighters in District 11 are changing the lives of those afflicted with neuromuscular disease. In fact, because of the work of fire fighters, MDA research is now the largest such program outside of the federal government. Since inception, MDA-funded research now tops 1 billion dollars. This is no small feat. Since 2015, nine new medications are in use as a direct result of MDA-funded research. These new treatment options deliver an even greater sense of hope to MDA families who are counting on MDA and the medical and scientific communities to move forward with greater intensity than ever before. Fire fighters truly make a difference when we participate in this very worthwhile and important program.

Training and Education

Our mission of outfitting local affiliate leaders with the tools they need to be successful is ongoing. In 2018, we held a District 11 Partnership Education Program (PEP) event in Dallas. In 2019, our PEP event was held at the Choctaw Resort and Casino in Durant, OK.

October 2018 Dallas, TX November 2019 Durant, OK
83 attendees 96 attendees
Politics and PR Negotiations Track
Social Media Municipal Financial Analysis
Intro to Public Relations Preparing for Negotiations
Building Coalitions Conducting Negotiations
Establishing and Maintaining a PAC NCB Environments: Achieving Goals
Legal Issues Politics & Public Relations Track
Introduction to Grievances Building Better Business Relationships
Duty of Fair Representation Lobbying 101: Understanding the Local Legislative Process
Overview of the FMLA Recruiting and Endorsing Candidates
Understanding FLSA Writing for Communicators
Union Administration Legal Issues/Union Administration Track
Understanding Union Leadership Local Union Governance
Increasing Membership Participation How to Run a Meeting
Internal Local Communications Understanding Pregnancy and Parental Rights and Accommodations
Budgeting for Local Unions Discipline: Your Rights and Responsibilities as Union Officers

 

The educational material developed and provided by the International’s Department of Training and Education at these PEP events is second to none. For a local affiliate, investing in union officer education and training is perhaps the wisest investment a local can make. I believe education and training is critical to the long-term success not only of the 11th District, but also our Union.

Service and Consultation

During this reporting period, I continued to daily consult with the affiliate leaders in District 11. I worked as interest arbitrator, consulted on grievance and disciplinary issues, and worked on negotiation issues for numerous locals in the district. I worked with countless local affiliate leaders and assisted them as they faced the challenges of leading a local union.

District Field Service Representative Joe Tellez was assigned to assist L-367 Texarkana, TX in their first set of collective bargaining negotiations. The city of Texarkana has not bargained in good faith. Consequently, this project is ongoing. Joe successfully negotiated a collective bargaining agreement with the City of Weslaco and L-3207. DFSR Tellez also successfully negotiated a first contract with the City of San Juan and L-4697.

District 11 is blessed to have the talents of our District Field Service Representatives (DFSR) and Service Representatives (SR). They are as follows:

DFSR

Joe Tellez El Paso L-51

Rick Beams McAlester L-111

SR

Daniel Buford L-1204

Ricky Burns, Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma

Brandon Day, Texas State Association of Fire Fighters

Stephen Dorris, Texas State Association of Fire Fighters

Braden Frame L-4117

Gerald Garrett L-176

Michael Glynn L-440

Lance Haines, Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma

Ronald Hunter L-2990

James Long L-176

Mark Medrano, Texas State Association of Firefighters

Chad Miller L-176

John Riddle, Texas State Association of Fire Fighters

Josiah Rovenstine L-200

Jim Tate L-440

Rafael Torres, Texas State Association of Firefighters

 

We are pleased to report General President Schaitberger has made the following IAFF appointments from within District 11.

  1. Braden Frame, President L-4117, as an IAFF Strategic Communications Specialist. In this role, Braden consults with and advises local affiliates across the IAFF with respect to their communications and strategic initiatives.
  2. Brother Steve Dorris, District 2 Vice President, Texas State Association of Firefighters as an IAFF Partner Education Program (PEP) Instructor. Steve will join this program to deliver IAFF training material to local affiliate leaders.
  3. Brother Brandon Day, Secretary-Treasurer, Texas State Association of Firefighters, as a member of the IAFF Disaster Relief Go Team. Brandon will serve in logistics whenever the Go Team is dispatched to manage natural and man-made disasters where our members have suffered catastrophic loss.
  4. William “Bill” Crews, President L-1293, as an IAFF Peer Support Instructor. Bill will work across the IAFF in our Peer Support training programs and delivery of onsite Peer Support.

District 11 enjoys a strong partnership with world-class communications expert Erin Powers, of Powers MediaWorks LLC. Our decade long alliance with Erin has drastically improved overall communications in District 11. Erin’s role as the Communications Director for the Texas State Association of Fire Fighters has paid dividends to union fire fighters. The Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma have recently adopted a similar model of service to their members. Erin’s work in Oklahoma began with a media blitz for Claremore Local 1077 in their fight to adopt the changes NIOSH recommended after the LODD of Brother Jason Farley over 5 years ago. Erin is a committed partner to fire fighters. He understands our work, our union and the unique communications brand necessary to deliver on the promise and mission of the IAFF. Thank you, Erin, for your work.

I want to thank General President Schaitberger for his leadership, guidance and advice he has given me over the years. It has proven to be invaluable, and I am very appreciative.

Final Thoughts

Words are not adequate to express my sincere appreciation to all the staff in every department at the IAFF. Thank you for your outstanding work. I appreciate your assistance, and all that you do for this International and the members of District 11.

I would be remiss if I did not thank the leadership of the two outstanding state associations in District 11 for all the support and great work that is done on behalf of IAFF members in Texas and Oklahoma. President John Riddle and Secretary-Treasurer Brandon Day lead a great organization in Texas that provides outstanding service in all the areas that affect professional firefighters. Professional Firefighters of Oklahoma President Ricky Burns and Secretary-Treasurer Curtis Maloy and their Executive Board of seven Vice Presidents are always on the frontlines for Oklahoma firefighters. To both organizations, keep up the good fight.

District Field Service Representatives Joe Tellez and Rick Beams, along with every District 11 Service Representative, are outstanding union leaders and great assets to all the affiliates in our District. I thank them for their loyalty and commend their efforts and commitment to advance the agenda of professional fire fighters. Without the support and hard work of every one of these exceptional leaders in the district who have shown an unwavering commitment to improving the overall well-being of professional firefighters, I would not be able to do my job or deliver the service that is deserved by the members of the 11th District.

With the blessing and support of my wife, Tina, my family and my home local Tulsa Firefighters Local 176, I remain humbled by the experience and truly honored to serve as the IAFF District 11 Vice President. Thank you!