15th District Vice President
In accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and By-Laws of the International Association of Fire Fighters, I respectively submit my report as 15th District Vice President for the period of September 1, 2018 to November 15, 2020.
During my term in office, I have attended all IAFF Executive Board meetings. At the request of the General President I have served on various Executive Board committees. It has been my pleasure to serve as Chair of the Education and Training Committee, Vice Chair of the Canadian Affairs Committee and as a member of the Communications and Media E18, Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial, Organizing and Field Services and Technical Assistance Committees. I also serve as Chair of the Public Relations, Convention Committee. During this term in office, I have attended many other events which include, but are not limited to, the Canadian Legislative Conference, Canadian Policy Conference, Redmond Symposium, Affiliate Leadership Training Summits, Human Relations Conference, Atlantic Provinces Professional Fire Fighters Association (APPFFA) Training seminar and LODD services honoring our fallen fire fighters.
I have endeavored to provide the affiliate locals of the 15th District with the representation, support and assistance that our members deserve. This has been accomplished through local affiliate visits and meetings, virtual zoom meetings, telephone conversations and email correspondence. All requests for service from affiliate locals and the Atlantic Provinces Professional Fire Fighters Association have been promptly addressed. Request for services have been addressed by me, District Field Services Representative Larry Cook and District Services Representatives Paul Boyle and Glenn Sullivan. Affiliate local services have been achieved by utilizing the resources of this International and to the best of our abilities.
Service to locals throughout the District included, but were not limited to, assistance with collective bargaining and attendance at collective bargaining sessions when requested. I was also happy to provide assistance and advice with respect to requests regarding grievance and grievance arbitration, collective bargaining arbitration, public and media relations, human relations, occupational health and safety and behavioral health concerns.
Service was also provided for political action initiatives and government lobbying for improved presumptive laws and member benefits. Further, I have provided information and direction with respect to fire fighter wellness and fitness, duty to accommodate and disability management programs, as well as advice and opinions related to local affiliate administrative issues and concerns. Affiliate locals and the provincial association was also able to avail of District PEP and occupational health and safety training and programs. I am pleased to report that many of our members have also received training through the IAFF in peer support and behavioral health and that they have programs in place to protect their members’ mental and behavioral health.
Over the past two years, this District has experienced challenges in our attempt to maintain and improve benefits for our members and to provide for a safe work environment. Not unlike our brothers and sisters throughout the entire IAFF, we have had to deal with threats to our wages and benefits, cutbacks and downsizing. Safe staffing, adequate equipment and PPE is a continual concern. In essence, many of our members are being forced to do more with less. The COVID-19 pandemic put additional stress on our members. I commend our members for their efforts in obtaining the proper PPE and response protocols to address this very serious health crisis in our communities. I was happy to assist the efforts to keep our members safe with the assistance of information and resources from the IAFF.
Some of our locals are experiencing threats to their well-deserved pension plans and have been forced to pursue the protection of their pension benefits through the courts. Our New Brunswick locals are faced with changes to their interest arbitration process. Changes to provincial legislation that dictates the interest arbitration process would have a negative effect upon our local’s efforts to achieve fair and adequate collective agreements. I am happy to assist with resources from the IAFF to ensure that our members retain their hard-earned pension benefits and that they maintain a fair and meaningful arbitration system.
Maintaining adequate numbers of fire fighters to safely provide fire and emergency services has also been a challenge. The constant infringement upon our members wage and benefits and the fight to protect what we have accomplished over the years has been difficult for many of our local leaders. I commend all of them for their hard work and dedication in fighting for and ensuring that our members and their families get the benefits they deserve.
Despite the challenges, and with the hard work of our local affiliate leadership and the resources of this IAFF, we have been able to secure wage increases through collective bargaining and interest arbitrations. We have maintained and, in many cases, we were able to improve our members benefits. In some locals, we have increased staffing through collective bargaining and arbitrations. Others are still faced with inadequate staffing and threat of station closures. We will continue to fight to improve staffing in those locals. With the assistance of the APPFFA and local leadership, we were able to acquire PTSD presumptive legislation for our locals in Atlantic Canada. We continue our efforts to increase the number of presumptive cancers covered in all our provinces.
Since our last Convention, we are fortunate to have the Charlottetown and the Shawinigan Professional Fire Fighters Associations as new IAFF affiliates. My congratulations and welcome to our new members from the provinces of Prince Edward Island and Quebec. The affiliation of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island marks the first time that the 15th District has had representation in all five provinces in the District. I have worked closely with these two new locals to assure a smooth transition and access to IAFF services. Organizing new members continues to be a priority.
My term in office has been both rewarding and enjoyable. It could not have been achieved without the hard work, dedication and the cooperation of the many fire fighters throughout the District. I especially would like to thank the local union officers, local union leadership and the executive board of the APPFFA for your continued support and cooperation.
I would like to thank the staff of the Canadian Office for their continual hard work and dedication and their assistance to both myself and the District locals. As vice chair of the IAFF Canadian Affairs Committee, I have had the opportunity to work on improvements to federal legislation and programs which affect our fire fighters on a national level. I have also had the opportunity to work with the Canadian provincial presidents to propose programs and initiatives that will strengthen the fire service and protect our hard-earned benefits.
Thank you to General President Harold Schaitberger, General Secretary Treasurer Ed Kelly and the excellent staff of the IAFF for their continued leadership, assistance and support.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the utmost concern for the health and safety of our members, this Convention will be held virtually. Many important resolutions will be presented to the delegates. I look forward to the interaction and the debate that comes with planning for our future. I trust that you will be fully engaged in providing this direction. I thank all of you for affording me the opportunity to represent you as your District Vice President. Enjoy this Convention experience and best wishes to you and your families.