Your Table is Ready, Sir
I recently wrote how the IAFF under Harold Schaitberger’s leadership has been diminished yet again, this time by placing firefighter safety related advertising in our publications.
John Teefy replied with a robust and lengthy defense of how whoring out safety advocacy is actually a good (and noble) thing.
Teefy makes the argument that IAFF programs cost money and therefore any money, from any source is fine.
He also likens this advertising revenue to “labor-management” partnerships with fire chiefs. He suggests that a cooperative approach with management is somehow akin to taking money from those we are charged with overseeing because our member’s lives depend on it.
A bit later he accuses me of a lack of “sound thinking” and finally, charges, “if you have any example of the IAFF compromising safety for money please bring it forward.”
His “we’ll take money from anywhere” philosophy is the exact problem with the current IAFF leadership. It’s proof that money reigns supreme over considerations of ethics or basic union principles.
Money Well Spent?
For sure, programs cost money, but isn’t that what we pay dues for?
Before we sacrifice our safety advocacy role shouldn’t we be sure that all IAFF dollars are being judiciously and properly spent?
Word on the street is that the 16 IAFF District vice-presidents, any number of whom are functionally derelict, are set to get a salary increase from $75K to $120K. Who in their right mind thinks that is money well spent?
And, when was the last time a union firefighter got a $45,000 dollar pay raise?
(Most firefighters barely even make that much.)
If money is really the issue, how many hundreds of thousands of dollars has been spent by the principal officers on high-end $1,000 dinners where only buzzed IAFF leaders sit around a table at a fancy restaurant for four hours?
And again, when was the last time a rank-and-file IAFF firefighter spent $500 or $1,000 on a meal?
Before we whore ourselves out why not stop frivolous first class air travel and the constant use of limousines when taxis and coach class fulfill the same mission at a fraction of the cost?
Conflict of Interest
Teefy goes on to say, “…to assert that these conflicts are or have happened is not only untrue, but reckless.”
He is either wholly ignorant on the topic of ethics or he thinks we are.
Here is the operative definition of conflict of interest:
“The presence of a conflict of interest is independent of the occurrence of impropriety. A widely used definition is: a conflict of interest is a set of circumstances that creates a risk that professional judgment or actions regarding a primary interest will be unduly influenced by a secondary interest.”
IAFF leadership is engaging in a conflict of interest around our health and safety because they have created circumstances where professional judgment is perpetually at risk.
The examples of frivolous and profligate miss-use of member’s dues which I cited earlier is more than sufficient proof of the shaky judgment of the current IAFF leadership. Their ethically challenged judgment should lead to ever greater concern about their decision to take money from companies who hold our lives in their hands.
The plain fact is that whoring out the IAFF just gives the bigwigs more money for extravagant meals, lodging and travel.
Avoid Even the Appearance of Impropriety
People who really care about topics such as ethics and conflict of interest, including judges and others in government service, employ a common standard that has become part of federal law. Quite simply, when engaging in any activity it is ethically proper to “avoid even the appearance of impropriety.”
In a nutshell, stay away from actions or situations that might even appear improper. When viewed in this light, our union’s decision to engage in financial transactions with safety manufacturers is a blatant example of conflict and professional impropriety.
Teefy spins out a cozy, back-slapping world where deals and money are the number one order of the day. Perhaps his loyalty to the fat cats will be rewarded with a cushy seat at the Prime Rib or Capitol Grill. I hope the steak is good.
But, that’s not my union.
My union protects me even when they have to take a taxi , ride in coach and eat at Red Lobster.
I want that union back.