IAFF: Our Soul For Sale

 

The Death of Advocacy

Is it time to ask ourselves why we even have a union?

A primary reason to unionize is for  firefighters and paramedics to have safe working conditions.

Safety advocacy is a crucial reason why the IAFF was formed.  It is the process of carefully watching over protective equipment developers, suppliers, and decision-makers to ensure they never lose sight of us.

We need to zealously guard and protect the safety of our members: it is a sacred and paramount union duty.

We must to be vigilant, focused, unconflicted and unrelenting. That in turn means that we must be willing to make sacrifices to ensure that nothing impedes the mission of firefighter safety.

The IAFF ceased to fulfill that crucial mission of safety and health advocacy the instant we began to accept advertising from protective clothing and fire/rescue equipment manufacturers.

Whatever the stated reason or proceeds and wherever the proceeds are said to go, it’s a fatal  and ruinous mistake that compromises our safety and integrity.

It is a reckless conflict of interest for a labor union that supposedly holds health and safety as a top priority to promote the products of those we are effectively responsible for overseeing.

Fox Guards Hen House

Fox Guards Hen House

The urban definition for the IAFF position on safety advocacy is “whoring it out.”

Is the entire IAFF  being whored out in an endless series of deals which cheapen and weaken who we are and what we stand for?

Advertisers include Globe, Dupont, Lion, Kevlar, MSA, Scott, and PBI.  They are protective clothing and SCBA providers  essential to our health and safety.  Engaging in any relationship with them other than an arms-length and politely skeptical one defies any rational interpretation of ethics or responsible behavior.

Our job is (or was) to hold their “feet to the fire.”

Let’s Make (Another) Deal

The IAFF has reached the point where membership trust is for sale to the highest bidder.

Why?

What amount of money is our advocacy role worth?

What do we so desperately need that we are willing to jeopardize our principal mission for it?

Or put another way, what would we be willing to go without to ensure that an unblemished legacy of ardent and unrelenting advocacy is passed onto the next generation?

30 Pieces of Silver

Judas

Judas

Mr. Schaitberger and his vice-presidents, most of whom are compliant, complacent, docile and ethically anemic have become  Judases betraying the IAFF to the “high priest of deals.”  Their actions (or inaction) amount to evidence of a corrupting influence.

In this parable our “Jesus”  does double duty as a Judas. (Apologies for making him just the son of God.)

No “water into wine” miracle is needed as the wine steward is close at hand.  So too, loaves and fishes would be waved away in favor of a 20 oz. New York Strip and a side of calamari.

The message it sends to staff and leaders is appalling:  don’t be concerned about our mission or our members, be on the lookout for the next deal, no matter how absurd or damaging.

We have lost our edge as a first-rate union intent on caring for our members because of this craven “deal mentality.”

And, our enemies see us as morally weak and professionally conflicted.

“Never forget”, we  said.

Well, we have.

We have forgotten both where we came from and why we are here.

4 Comments

  • D. Hormel says:

    I too am concerned if this is true. Where are examples of the IAFF selling out so that I may see for myself. This is so upsetting.

  • John Teefy says:

    Brother Lamar,
    I am happy that friends can respectfully disagree, because we are friends, and I think you are way off on your assertion that partnering with companies that service our membership has somehow clouded our leader dedication to safety.
    The IAFF, as well as all of our locals and departments are coming off of the greatest financial disaster our country has faced in 70 years. All of us, my local, the PFFA, and the IAFF made a conscious effort to open other sources of revenue. These vendors make money off our departments and I have no problem taking some of that money back. The money that you think will soil our union has gone directly to fund programs that save firefighters lives and protect their jobs and pensions. Ironically many of these education programs you helped to start. You of all people should no how hard they are to fund.
    Fireground Survival, the IAFF’s “save your own” training, has directly saved firefighters lives. Our grants department guides our locals through the AFG and SAFER funding programs and save firefighters jobs and put them back on the fire trucks. Our peer fitness trainers help to make a healthier, safer workforce. IAFF political instructors teach our locals to fight for themselves and protect pensions and staffing. All of these programs cost money. Money our membership does not have to give.
    At the same time our union has never been more involved in research and development of safer, more efficient PPE and support gear. Partnerships are not bad. The same argument you use has been used to oppose labor-management relationships. Because the chiefs “might” someday screw us over, we should not work with them. The premise is not based on sound thinking. It is based on fear and conjecture and spreads doubt where none is justified.
    I think you are correct that we should be vigilant to make sure that conflicts never arise. That is wise and prudent. But to assert that these conflicts are or have happened is not only untrue, but reckless.
    If you have any example of the IAFF compromising safety for money please bring it forward. My old friend, I fear that you are letting personal animosity drive your opinions. You are a good man and are better than that.
    If anyone feels that because I am a IAFF Hazmat instructor, or that I was a union office for almost 20 years, I am biased our somehow on the “teat” of the IAFF, I have no doubt that my friend Eric will be the first one to tell you that I have never given much of a shit about what others think, and have never let any job shut me up or force my opinion.
    I have confidence that our IAFF leadership is making the best choices for our members and our security.
    I also have confidence that friends can have disagreement, strong heated disagreements, and still be friends. That is the beauty of the fire service and our IAFF.
    Happy St. Patricks Day Eric. Erin Go Bragh!

    Respectfully submitted,
    John Teefy
    Phoenix L-493

  • John Teefy says:

    Brother Lamar,
    I am happy that friends can respectfully disagree, because we are friends, and I think you are way off on your assertion that partnering with companies that service our membership has somehow clouded our leader dedication to safety.
    The IAFF, as well as all of our locals and departments are coming off of the greatest financial disaster our country has faced in 70 years. All of us, my local, the PFFA, and the IAFF made a conscious effort to open other sources of revenue. These vendors make money off our departments and I have no problem taking some of that money back. The money that you think will soil our union has gone directly to fund programs that save firefighters lives and protect their jobs and pensions. Ironically many of these education programs you helped to start. You of all people should no how hard they are to fund.
    Fireground Survival, the IAFF’s “save your own” training, has directly saved firefighters lives. Our grants department guides our locals through the AFG and SAFER funding programs and save firefighters jobs and put them back on the fire trucks. Our peer fitness trainers help to make a healthier, safer workforce. IAFF political instructors teach our locals to fight for themselves and protect pensions and staffing. All of these programs cost money. Money our membership does not have to give.
    At the same time our union has never been more involved in research and development of safer, more efficient PPE and support gear. Partnerships are not bad. The same argument you use has been used to oppose labor-management relationships. Because the chiefs “might” someday screw us over, we should not work with them. The premise is not based on sound thinking. It is based on fear and conjecture and spreads doubt where none is justified.
    I think you are correct that we should be vigilant to make sure that conflicts never arise. That is wise and prudent. But to assert that these conflicts are or have happened is not only untrue, but reckless.
    If you have any example of the IAFF compromising safety for money please bring it forward. My old friend, I fear that you are letting personal animosity drive your opinions. You are a good man and are better than that.
    If anyone feels that because I am a IAFF Hazmat instructor, or that I was a union office for almost 20 years, I am biased our somehow on the “teat” of the IAFF, I have no doubt that my friend Eric will be the first one to tell you that I have never given much of a shit about what others think, and have never let any job shut me up or force my opinion.
    I have confidence that our IAFF leadership is making the best choices for our members and our security.
    I also have confidence that friends can have disagreement, strong heated disagreements, and still be friends. That is the beauty of the fire service and our IAFF.
    Happy St. Patricks Day Eric. Erin Go Bragh!

    Respectfully submitted,
    John Teefy
    Phoenix L-493

  • Brian Gaughan says:

    As I read the article, I couldn’t help but think back about my many attempts to find out more about Harold’s position on the closing of labors own school of higher education, The National Labor College. From what students and alumni (of which I am one) were told, the Executive Board of Directors of the AFL-CIO voted to stop funding it, which in turn forced the college to cease operations. Knowing that Harold was on the Executive Board of Directors, I was curious as to what his position and vote on de-funding the college was. Over numerous phone calls, I was repeatedly told by various staff members of the International that Harold was “very upset” and was “totally against” the closing of the college. I was even told that “very soon” Harold will be putting out a statement expressing his disappointment concerning the matter. I was told that something would “probably” be in the IAFF magazine concerning the issue. None of those came to fruition. But what I DO see in our magazine and on our website are ads touting for-profit college degrees. I have to wonder, was a vote cast to close the only college devoted exclusively to promoting labor and the working class so money could be made by extolling the virtues of profit based education? From what I have learned recently, it would not surprise me in the slightest. I also have to ad that at the National Labor College, I met several other IAFF members, among them was John Teefy, the previous poster. What a small world!

    Brian Gaughan
    Past President, IAFF Local 4186, retired member

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Recent Posts
Comments
Eric Lamar
Nepal: Disaster On A High Pass
B- Sorry for the late reply. I am sure I will be back that way again though I will pay mroe attention to the weather. Hope all is well. Eric
2014-10-31 18:10:37
Bob Gray
Ebola: The Real Lesson
Good advice, Eric...well taken.
2014-10-29 19:06:27
Eric Lamar
Ebola: The Real Lesson
WOW. Quite a story, Cortez. Thanks for sharing. Eric
2014-10-29 14:39:21
Cortez Lawrence
Ebola: The Real Lesson
Eric: You certainly have it right. My back surgery three and a half years ago left me unable to walk because of a hospital contracted infection that caused a spinal abcess and required a followed on surgery and an additional week in the hospital and 3 months of PIC line and high explosive antibiotics! I…
2014-10-29 14:28:11
Eric Lamar
Ebola: The Real Lesson
G- Thank you for sharing your experience. Eric
2014-10-28 17:52:17
IAFFLogo
March 2014
M T W T F S S
« Feb   Apr »
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

FireEMS Blogs eNewsletter

Sign-up to receive our free monthly eNewsletter

LATEST FIREFIGHTER NEWS

HOT FORUM DISCUSSIONS

LATEST ON FIRE ENGINEERING

FEATURED DISCUSSIONS