14th District Vice President
Welcome from the 14th District to the delegates and guests assembled for the 2021 IAFF Convention. This report is submitted in accordance with the IAFF Constitution & By Laws. Hopefully, this delayed and virtual convention will go smoothly, and the great work of the IAFF will continue.
It is my honor to represent this district and the entire IAFF membership on the IAFF Executive Board serving on the following committees: Budget & Finance, Canadian Affairs, Human Relations, Governmental & Political Affairs, Health & Safety/ Redmond, Organizing & Field Services, Pension Trustee, Administrative Committee for Principal Officers Retirement Plan and a board member of IAFF Financial Corporation. I also serve as chairperson for the IAFF Committee on Assistance to Non-Collective bargaining states.
In representing the 14th District (Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee), I have attended all Executive Board meetings, Legislative Conferences, Redmond/EMS Symposiums, Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial services and Affiliate Leadership Training/Human Relations Conferences since the last convention. I have also attended state association conventions, legislative seminars and some state executive board meetings.
Special thanks to Nashville local 140 as they were great hosts for the 2019 IAFF Redmond/EMS Conference.
Our district is thankful to have two very qualified and dedicated District Field Services Representatives, Thomas Malone and Pete Reagan. Brothers Malone and Reagan have been involved in training seminars, organizing and assisting the locals with problems. They have also served as grant reviewers for FIRE Act and SAFER grants. They continue to provide a valuable service to the district and the IAFF.
The 14th District membership remains stable with around 16,000 members in 191 locals. There continues to be interest in the IAFF despite the Right to Work laws in each state and lack of favorable labor laws.
Since the last convention, our state associations have been very active in pursuing legislations to help our members. Members diagnosed with cancer have coverage or benefit improvements in all states. Post-traumatic stress presumption coverage was passed in Louisiana. Alabama passed a pension improvement bill allowing cities to opt into tier 1 benefits for their fire fighters and many cites have.
Currently, there are two pension lawsuits in Tennessee (Memphis and Dyersburg) where changes were made to the pension benefits of incumbent employees. These changes are in conflict with a previous Tennessee Supreme Court Ruling. The outcome of these cases are important to all public employees in Tennessee.
Memphis Local 1784 passed a public safety (fire and police) referendum for a ½ cent sales tax increase to restore pension benefits and restore health insurance for retirees. Thanks to the IAFF for their assistance in this campaign.
In the Gulf Coast area of Mississippi and Alabama, we have an internal organizing drive in Gulfport, Biloxi, Ocean Springs, Moss Point and Mobile.
We all have been dealing with COVID-19 and its effect on our membership. Our members are doing their work in the face of an invisible danger and they continue to make all of us proud with their dedication. Sadly, it took the life of Brother Chris Lenard, Ouachita Parish Local 1694. The IAFF has been a very valued resource in helping answer the many questions of our affiliates and providing guidance for best practices. The aftermath of this will be felt in city budgets going forward and we must be prepared to address issues in our cities and states.
Our Gulf Coast area of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana have been hit really hard this year with Hurricanes Laura, Sally, Delta and Zeta. In each of these storms, we set up a IAFF Disaster Relief Command center to assist members with damage to their homes and provide financial aid and peer support counseling. Thanks to IAFF staff, the IAFF Go Team and all others who assisted in helping after these hurricanes.
Our thanks to General President Schaitberger, General Secretary/Treasurer Kelly and the staff at IAFF headquarters for the service you provide to our membership every day. I am proud to be a member of the IAFF Executive Board and proud of all that we have accomplished. Thanks to all the members in the “IAFF Fighting 14th District” for the privilege of representing you.