Mark Sanders
8th District Vice President

In accordance with the International Association of Fire Fighters Constitution and By-Laws, Article VI, section 3, I respectfully submit this report of my activities as 8th District Vice President to the General President, General Secretary Treasurer, Executive Board, and the delegates at the 55th Biennial Convention of the IAFF. This report briefly summarizes activities on behalf of the members in the IAFF 8th District from September 2018 through March 2020.

I’ll begin this report by thanking the 8th District local affiliate and state association leaders for their support and assistance with the operations of the district. Their leadership is invaluable in providing and delivering services to our members and keeping the 8th District’s 787 local affiliates and five state associations operating at full capacity. That steady and consistent support has helped to create effective operations throughout our great District.

In the time since our last convention, I have represented the 8th District at all scheduled IAFF Executive Board and committee meetings along with completing assignments designated by the General President. Those assignments include the following executive board committees: Emergency Medical Services, Grants Administration/HazMat/WMD, Health, Safety and Behavioral Wellness, Information and Technology Systems, Human Relations, Canadian Affairs Committee, Emergency Defense Funds and Legal Services, Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial, Employee Benefits and Human Resources Committee.

The following is a brief synopsis of the services and resources delivered throughout the district during the past two years.

Over the past 28 months, approximately 200 Municipal Financial Analyses have been processed, 30 Geographical Information System (GIS)/EMS integration studies are in the process or completed and dozens of contract database comparable reports have been prepared for affiliates in the district. This data supported state and local unions in their efforts to improve wages, benefits and working conditions for IAFF members in 15 first-time contracts.

8th District Field Service Reps delivered more than 300 days of service in the District. Working with IAFF staff, DFSRs and Service Reps, we have organized 20 new locals welcoming over 250 members to the 8th District.

Our Service Reps provided locals with assistance in collective bargaining, public relations, media collaboration, health and safety, political action, legal issues, EMS and strategic campaigns assisting with ballot initiatives and proposals to generate local revenue through tax levy/millage votes.

Additionally, in support of our efforts to secure just compensation, important benefits and safe working conditions, 8th District affiliates have been awarded nearly $500,000 in IAFF benefits from the Emergency Disputes Fund program in the form of grants or loans. This vital IAFF program has been a lifeline for local affiliates to fight back against jurisdictions that refuse to bargain in good faith and in some cases not honor and/or implement a favorable award resulting from the negotiations or grievance process. Thanks to this important program, local affiliates are better able to defend themselves when necessary.

Education and training of local union officers and representatives continues to be critical to the success of our affiliates. We have offered programs in multiple areas such as: Collective Bargaining, Grievances, Arbitration, Pension Systems, Health and Safety, Fire Ground Survival, Hazardous Materials Response and many others. Working in conjunction with IAFF staff, local affiliates and our state associations, we provided our membership access to all these programs with jointly sponsored IAFF/state association seminars.

The 8th District Partnership in Education Program (PEP) started in 2012 with the goal of providing two days of training annually for local union officers. Since the inception of this program, thousands of affiliate leaders representing locals throughout the 8th District have been trained. The 2018 and 2019 editions of the 8th District PEP averaged nearly 300 attendees each year. Like all of our events, the 2020 Edition has been moved to 2021.

In addition, the delivery of annual training for 8th District IAFF District Field Service Representatives and Service Representatives has continued. This program provides the opportunity for service reps to improve their skills and knowledge base in providing expert assistance and guidance to locals on the critical issues they face every day. For the past two years, the content and agenda has been coordinated and presented by the 8th District Field Service Representatives. Attendance has included the entire roster of 8th District Service Reps – a testament to their dedication and service.

The work of the IAFF political team, the IAFF Grants Department and the IAFF Health and Safety Department once again have helped deliver important resources through the SAFER, AFG, Fire Prevention and Safety Grant programs. These grants have bolstered our fire departments with over $50 million dollars awarded in all categories of grants over the last 18 months. This has helped to ensure IAFF members remain on the job and secure important safety equipment for our 8th District affiliates and jurisdictions.

Additionally, these important departments are utilized daily by 8th District affiliates. From cutting turf for a local campaign, to providing evidence and statistics to represent our members in  occupational cancer claims or reviewing grant applications, these examples of the daily interaction and prompt assistance and support from these departments and IAFF staff have been a critical component to efficient and successful 8th District operations.

The District has taken advantage of the IAFF Strategic Campaigns operation and the staff specialists assigned to assist local affiliates in their support of local ballot initiative campaigns. The implementation of this program has already paid dividends to many locals across the 8th District. With the assistance of our IAFF team, locals have prevailed at the ballot box, which has secured resources needed to maintain professional fire and EMS response. This assistance is invaluable to our members and locals. It has become a staple in the menu of services provided by the IAFF Media and Communications and Governmental Affairs Department.

At the direction of the General President, and with coordination through the Education Department, the Elected Human Relations Committee has provided technical assistance at the request of several locals in the district. The assistance has ranged from training our members in the large metropolitan department of Louisville to assisting with specific issues in locals and departments of various sizes. This assistance is a valuable tool for local affiliate leaders to properly represent and service our continuously growing and ever-changing membership.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank General President Schaitberger and General Secretary-Treasurer Kelly, their staff and our employees at IAFF headquarters for their work on behalf of the members of the 8th District. Every day, one of our great members of IAFF staff are working on something to benefit the local affiliates and members of the 8th District. Hats off to the IAFF staff and principal officers for your work on our behalf.

The state associations in the 8th District play a crucial role in representing IAFF members on critical issues in their respective state capitals, partnering with the IAFF in providing training and education programs, and working in conjunction with the IAFF to deliver resources and services to our locals in your states. Our collaboration is vital in successfully delivering resources and providing service to local affiliates and their members. Once again, thank you.

As of this writing, the 8th District as well as all affiliates of the IAFF have been on the frontlines protecting our communities from the ravages of COVID-19 for nearly a year. This historic pandemic has turned our everyday lives upside down. While the worry of protecting our own families weighs heavy, our members continue their work on the street and in our neighborhoods protecting our residents.

The 8th District has lost five members through LODD due to this terrible pandemic with dozens of Brothers and Sisters fighting to recover. No words can fully comfort the loved ones left behind. I hope they can find some comfort in knowing this IAFF has fought for and secured benefits to provide a level of peace, security and support for families moving forward.

It is with much hope that we all gather at the IAFF’s historic 55th Biennial Virtual Convention, in good health, in order to continue to do what we do – taking action on the important issues to protect our members and their families. Some emergency social changes may be our new normal. What will always remain as the “norm” will be our support and trust in one another when the chips are down. We can be proud of our work and legacy!

I am very fortunate and grateful to have the opportunity to represent IAFF members in the 8th District. We are an outstanding trade union that provides unparalleled service to our affiliates and represents our members well in every facet of our profession. We are the best at it in the house of Labor. I am proud to be a part of this great association. My thanks to all of you for your support of the 8th District and its operations and programs.

In closing, I want to give my personal and professional thanks to General President Harold Schaitberger. Job well done! Your vision and drive have transformed this IAFF into an “all hazards response Union.” Your work for our great union will never be forgotten and most importantly, it will stand up to the test of time.

Good luck and good health to all.

Stay safe.