IAFF Ethics: Not-So Trusty Trustees

Three Blind Mice

Alex, Mark and Tony

Alex, Mark and Tony

For the first time in memory our union is having a discussion about ethics.

It’s extraordinary, exciting and very healthy despite the fact that it’s a virtual discussion happening here.

The Unhappy Ones

The only folks who are unhappy about the dialogue are those who have something to lose from a discussion about honesty, how we treat one another and the future of our union.

At the top of the unhappy list is the general president, Harold Schaitberger and his criminally compliant board who are, among other things, hiding an ethics report from the members.

If there is nothing to hide why is it secret?

The answer:  It’s just the way they do business.  Much of what occurs is shrouded in secrecy,  even from staff.

(I know, I worked there for 12 years, after 22 years as a firefighter in the field. I’ve been an IAFF member for 38 years.)

The idea of conducting an actual ethics review and then disclosing the results, as any healthy organization would do, is as alien to them as Mars.

Even the board is only told what they must know to stumble along in obliging agreement.

The fault is still their’s for caving into a cushy form of cowardice.

Deal Maker in Chief

The deal-maker in chief can’t remember all the deals, although it is made somewhat easier by the fact that long-term cash payoffs seem to go to the guys in the south.

The absence of collective bargaining south of the Mason-Dixon line certainly has not made a difference in that regard.

Don’t mess with Texas, Florida, or South Carolina, either.

Speaking of pay-offs, Harold has put his DVPs in for a whopping 60% pay increase a la bankers and media moguls.  In amongst the fine print is that they currently get a $5200 a year office allowance and $80-a-day per diem out of domicile.

Let’s be honest, the $5200 is cash in the pocket. Your office is your laptop, I-Pad and smartphone, provided to you by—the IAFF.

And, it is one of the worst kept secrets in the International that the $80 a day is routinely abused by the DVPs.  For some, they “expense” it week in and week out whether they deserve it or not.

Tens of thousands of dollars down the rat hole.

Why, you ask?

Because that’s the way it’s done under Schaitberger.  Everybody gets their “vig” and the farther up the food chain the bigger the cut is.

Our Trusty Trustees

Some are no doubt asking, “But what about our elected, trusty IAFF trustees, tasked with “checking the books of the association”?

Are they not ever vigilant weeding out corruption?

(Excuse me while I pick myself up off the floor from laughing.)

What a pathetic trio of  lame ass happy face jim jones bring-out-the-kool-aid boot-licking lackeys, pictured above at work.

They have made themselves so utterly inconsequential that Harold does not even buy them off with a raise.

Here’s an assignment for them that they can have ready for the convention:

For fiscal years 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, provide the number of $80 days expensed by each DVP along with the documentation that they were meeting the requirements to receive it.

Find out what the DVP’s REAL salary is.

(Don’t hold your breath.)

Our convention is a time for local and state/provincial leaders and delegates to stand up for ethics and to ask the tough questions.

(Now that you know some of the questions to ask.)

And finally, for all you folks who think Schaitberger’s $1,000,000+ undisclosed deals with a man who does substantial business with the IAFF Financial Corp and the IAFF is A.O.K., if you found out your fire chief bought a $1,000,000 house from the guy who sells your department the rigs you ride on, you’d be pretty skeptical as would the press and elected officials.  In fact, that fire chief might be looking for a job.

Why is it suddenly OK when it’s the president of our union?

A conflict is a conflict.

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Help Create The Union We Want

Tell Your Convention Delegates to Support Resolution 10 


  • Michael D. Ramos says:

    I support Resolution 10, and have been a member of the Union for over 40 years.

  • Smitty says:


    I am not and never have been a fire fighter or union member, but I am very impressed by the questions you are asking. Our firefighters are heroes every day, and they deserve better.

    What you describe also happens in many other organizations, and I wish all Boards of Directors or Trustees took the approach you are suggesting. All too often, those charged with leading or holding a position of sacred trust simply rubber stamp the actions of staff leadership.

    I hope what you are doing will make a difference for the IAFF and will inspire other Boards and Trustees to lead as is appropriate for their organizations.

  • Dennis says:

    E, You have offically eclipsed “The Big Eye”, and its scandalous play by play of a sexual harrassment case (which one? heck, I dunno, pick one), as the MOST interesting and informative Fire Service Blog. Dave Statter, better watch your six! All kidding aside, great work you are doing. One question. If the DVP goes to Harpers Ferry, does he receive $240?

  • Eric Lamar says:

    He probably does. Is he going to do a John Brown raid? Oh, wait, that’s work.

  • Mike Schwartz says:

    Eric, as you know, I am not a firefighter though as a potential recipient of firefighter services and a taxpayer, I feel very strongly that firefighters deserve better than this from their leaders. As a long time member of various nonprofit boards and currently as a Board president I do feel I can say that I would expect to be sued for negligence of my legal fiduciary responsibilities if your information is correct and accurate, which knowing you, I am certain is the case. It seems pretty clear to me that it is only a question of time before these various leaders are held accountable. I am certain that all these leaders started out as firefighters with the highest ethical standards and have and are putting their lives on the line. I am surprised that they also want to put their personal reputations and potentially their legal situation on the line, too. Do you think they realize what they could potentially suffer if they continue to abuse their office and neglect their fiduciary responsibilities? Mike

  • Eric Lamar says:

    Mike, thanks for writing.

    As for their level of understanding, who knows?

    The leadership culture of the IAFF has been corrupted, plain and simple.

    The current board has been bought off and bought out.

    Harold Schaitberger owns the IAFF, make no mistake.

  • Dave Foreman says:

    Our members need to know the truth about old Harold and they are never going to hear it from him. This information needs to be shared firefighters deserve better.

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