IAFF Corruption: Times Confirms Misconduct

Schaitberger and IAFF Board Named

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Today’s New York Times reported how Harold Schaitberger and the IAFF executive board are plundering our union under the guise of doing IAFF business as if the only way to advance the cause of professional firefighters and paramedics is to recklessly spend dues money.

One thing is for sure, with Schaitberger it’s business as usual as he insists on being treated like royalty.

Food for Thought

Your Table, Sir

Your Table, Sir

In 2010 alone, he spent $110,000 on extravagant luxury meals and expensive wines.

Another $30,000 was blown on limo rides when a rental car, taxi, or god forbid, catching a ride, would have done the trick at a fraction of the cost.

As the Times pointed out, he has a “taste for refinement and a regal impatience.”

He acts like a king and we pay the bill.

That fat bill is money wasted that should have gone to help locals in need, a fact that is always ignored.

Perhaps the best food quote was his telling waiters at Il Mulino, a fancy Italian restaurant, to “fix me up a little of this” rather than stooping to order off the menu like mere mortals.

By the way, the Il Mulino quote is totally at odds with Schaitberger’s comment that, “This isn’t about that I need another meal…”

Schaitberger loves the high life and part of that is being fawned over by doting staff waiting on their $700 tip that again, we pay for.

The Times also pointed out that “Whatever its use in advancing the causes of firefighters, his lavish spending advances at least one more:  his own.”

When will the IAFF have a president who concentrates on what we need rather than putting himself and his royal comforts first?

More than one member detailed how Schaitberger really uses the fancy meals to buy support, saying, “A lot of guys get rolled by that.  They like the glitz.”

The Phony Per Diems

Schaitberger and most of the board are regularly applying for and receiving travel per diems to which they are not entitled.

Schaitberger applies essentially every cost to his IAFF credit card, thus double-dipping, and the board puts in for the $80 even when the auditors have clearly pointed out it is against IAFF policy.

Every year tens-of-thousands of dollars are skimmed off in this manner in what amounts to an illegal pay raise.

In fact, the auditors have said the practice endangers our tax-exempt status.

Unfortunately, the Times failed to point out that there is only one travel policy which covers all IAFF officers and staff.

If the board regularly collects the per diem each time they leave their house, why can’t staff?

Answer:  Schaitberger is paying a bribe to the board as they let him lord it over the membership.

After all, the Times pointed out how he is a “one-man case study in how to consolidate power…through the deft use of his organization’s funds.”

But, once again, we pay the price.

As the Times reports, “…four of the vice-presidents received at least $18,000 in per diem payments and seven more received at least $11,000.

Just for leaving their house.

You’ve Got a Friend

house

As the Times put it, “Schaitberger has also used his influence to do business with friends.”

The Times detailed the 2010 million-dollar house purchase from IAFF contractor and “one of Schaitberger’s closest friends for many years, ” Jim Franzoni.

That purchase was the subject of a Department of Labor finding but the IAFF internal response was a white-wash cover-up where the cowardly board lined up behind Schaitberger’s successful attempt to gut any semblance of IAFF internal ethical oversight.

The False Choice

Schaitberger suggests that the only course to building a strong union is by selling out the rank-and-file, one $1,000 dinner at-a-time.

His course takes the IAFF down the road to ruin by suggesting that leaching and fat-catting off the members is the only way to go.

The Times hit the nail on the head when they referred to him as a “throwback.”

As they said, he operates with “little checks and balances” and the result is a weakened IAFF, morally, ethically and professionally.

Care About Ethics?

Then Share This Post.

Stop the Schaitberger Corruption.
Be a part of Saving Our Union.
Send some version of the sentence below, even a cut and paste, to the address just beneath it.
“I am a member of the International Association of Fire Fighters and I am requesting that the US DOL immediately begin to investigate allegations of corruption including illegal compensation and reckless and destructive spending by International Officers.  
Thank you.”
Email to the US Department of Labor at:  olms-public@dol.gov

– See more at: http://www.turnoutblog.com/2015/09/06/iaff-and-labor-day-is-our-future-more-corruption/#sthash.cT0d2SnL.dpuf

 

 

42 Comments

  • Robert Marshall says:

    Pigs at the Trough

  • IslaFire says:

    Our Local President has been on a spending spree for two years. Fortunately, we have an election coming up and it looks as though he will be defeated. There have been several appeals filed with the International. Of course, the IAFF always sides with the Local President regardless of right or wrong. It’s so discouraging.

    I learned many years ago from a DVP Emeritus, “it’s not your money.” When sitting on our Local Board I always considered those words.

    Keep up the good work Eric.

    • Eric Lamar says:

      Thank you for taking the time to write.

      You are quite correct that Schaitberger always sides with those who he believes have power, money or votes.

      Thus, his backing of the board as they skim phony per diems.

      Eric

  • Tom says:

    While you may not agree with the way he does business you have to consider the environment he his working in to advance the concerns of our membership. The money spent is a fraction of the money spent in DC every year by big corporations like insurance companies, automobile industry, pharmaceuticals, etc. They money spent has a purpose, and obviously it’s working because we are a union to take note of. Can we do better, probably. But if anything we need to spend more money on lobbying not less in order to have our voice heard.

  • Sean says:

    If your going to take down a man who serves in that capacity you better have someone that can seamlessly step into his shoes and do a better job and do it without the perks. I hope you have that person. There are alot of hands that need to be greased and trust must be accomplished.

    • Eric Lamar says:

      S-

      Funny you should mention that because everyone knows that he has successfully eliminated all competition, often, as you allude to, by greasing hands, a concept I don’t subscribe to.

      E

  • Rick Honsberger says:

    Eric Lamar you are so wrong to suggest that Harold Shaitberger and his fat bill is money wasted, should have gone to locals in need, a fact that is always ignored. Our small Local 1182 in Thorold Ontario Canada has never been ignored. As a matter of fact we were able to receive much needed money to fight our battles over night with the assistance of our DVP through the GP. We also have a Guardian Policy approved. Doesn’t sound like we have been ignored. Let’s hear why you are such a disgruntled ex employee of the IAFF. Rick Honsberger, President Local 1182

    • Eric Lamar says:

      “disgruntled ex employee”, nice.

      The question is how many MORE locals could be helped if we were not being plundered.

      Ron, that’s not a tough concept to get.

      BTW, I see you skipped right over the skimming of per diems.

      Does that mean you are “down with that”?

      What about doing business with friends?

      If your fire chief was doing that stuff you would be picketing city hall.

      Good luck with your double standard.

      • Rick Honsberger says:

        The name is Rick, I was addressing that one specific accusation you made. As for the rest of your accusations about the GP the price of doing business. Now answer the question why are you a disgruntled ex employee of the IAFF. I understand you left with a lucrative pension. Tell us why you have made it your new career to attack the organisation you worked for.

        • Eric Lamar says:

          well, address the other points, don’t cherry pick.

          your “disgruntled ex employee” comment is an unfounded and unproven cheap shot.

          I have been a loyal IAFF member for 39 years and I want a healthy and honest union.

          Now, answer those other points.

          • Rick Honsberger says:

            I did answer it with it is the cost of doing business. I have no problem with him the GP or DVP do the business needed. At the end of the New York Times it certainly did report you as a former fire fighter and top aid to Harold Shaitberger. There is certainly reference to you being a former employee of the IAFF. Cut the BS and tell 300,000 members why you are so disgruntled. I have been a member in good standing and a President since 1991. I have no beef with you. But I do know when there is more to the story.

          • Eric Lamar says:

            So skimming IAFF per diems is “the cost of doing business”?

            Now I see why you can’t believe all I want is an honest union.

            You and I–we have no frame of ethical reference.

            That’s the IAFF you would leave to younger members and you would be proud of it?

            Wow.

  • alex says:

    I read your little piece about corruption in the IAFF and just when I began to think that you might be onto something, I read some of your other posts. Then I realized something. You’re an idiot, and a racist.  There’s no place for someone like you in the fire service.  Although the corruption might be real, you lessened your message by your ignorance and bigotry.  Remove me from your email list. I hope you feel like I wasted a little bit of your time, because God knows that’s how I feel after reading your garbage. I’ve read more literate ramblings in penthouse forums. Stay safe (or quit.)

  • Steve says:

    I for one do not have nor see any impropriety in the allegations printed in the NY Times. More than once the IAFF has stood by and supported the members of this great Union and their families.
    We have a membership of over 300,000. I believe taking our “business” to the vultures of the media is deplorable at best. If you feel strongly about the union, take care of it by election.
    It takes a certain amount of Capital in the Capital to further some of our objectives and agendas. Money is the mothers milk of lobbying and politics.

    • Eric Lamar says:

      S-

      So, tell me, what do you think about the skimming of per diems?

      Does that mean you are “down with that”?

      What about doing business with friends?

      And, let me get this right, if you saw corruption in your local government or fire department you wouldn’t enlist the press?

      Give me a break.

      Thanks.

  • alex says:

    Well bless my lucky stars then. How are we doing on deleting my email from your list?

    • Eric Lamar says:

      I think you might be pressing your luck there but they have these things called “email filters” they tell me. Try doing a search on that.

      Best of luck.

  • alex says:

    I guess if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

  • Gerry Gay says:

    Eric,
    I don’t know you but here is what you are now doing to all the members of the IAFF. City managers, Mayors, elected officials and fire chiefs are now making statements of corrupt firefighters. You being a former employee of the IAFF and a member of the IAFF stop this bull shit and bring it to the floor and take some action there but to parade this for everyone to see reflects your just a ex-employee who didn’t get what he wanted.

    • Eric Lamar says:

      Bring something ethical to the floor of the IAFF convention? LOL.

      Like others who run the ex-employee BS up the flagpole, you have zero evidence to support your claim. Nothing.

      I am a loyal 39-year member of the IAFF interested in an honest and ethical union and I am not alone.

      Cheers.

  • LK says:

    Harold could be everything you believe him to be and you would still be wrong. Why you ask? Because, at the end of the day he’s out there working to improve the position of all fire fighters and paramedics while you are hurting the reputatuon we’ve built. Internally, he could be all you say he is but externally that is working; it has advanced the IAFF. What you’re doing is not…you’re publicly airing all your personal grievances and you’re hurting our position and hurting the 300,000 members for your personal grievances that are not shared by all.

    Do I think Harold is perfect? No. And, you sir, aren’t either. Neither you or Harold are bigger than the IAFF or what it means to 300,000 of us!! Clearly you have put your personal aspirations and personal grievances above the rest of us. So maybe you should not be throwing stones from your glass house.

    • Eric Lamar says:

      L-

      You are heavy on the rhetoric without addressing any of the specifics.

      Do you approve of the phony per diems?

      Is that the way our union should be run?

      In fact, is that the union you want to hand off to the next generation?

      You talk about my “personal aspirations and personal grievances.”

      You have not a shred of proof of either.

      All you can do is to try to slay the messenger since the truth, and the facts, are against you.

      There are plenty of us who know the IAFF needs disclosure and reform rather than a “throwback” leader who is driving us right into the ground.

      By the way, if your fire chief pulled half the shady stunts he has you’d be picketing city hall.

      I take it your ethics are entirely situational.

      • LK says:

        I’m not slaying the messenger. I’m challenging the motive of the messenger, and pointing out grosse hypocrisy. And ultimately, I don’t want to slay the messenger…just slay the method and medium the messenger is choosing as it hurts the masses. It doesn’t even hurt the intended target. If you weren’t so close and taking it so personal you could see that. I don’t know either of you but I do know that what you’re doing isn’t right. Even if everything you say was 100% accurate you’re still doing more harm than good!! That is a fact.

        Very shocked after reading my comment that you question my ethics…? You don’t even know what my position is. Maybe you should read my comment again.

        You talk about heavy on the rhetoric? Again, maybe you should read my comment. And then you should look in the heavy rhetoric mirror….

        To your questions:

        Do I approve of phony per diems? No. But that’s not what was shown. Maybe a liberal definition of domicile…but phony? Who’s heavy on the rhetoric?

        Is this the way our union should be run? Again, I said Harold may not be perfect but neither are you. You are just as bad as you say Harold is. Our organization is still a democracy and still above you both. He is our elected President. You clearly don’t like that. That’s your opinion that you are entitled to. Whether or not I like it doesn’t mean I’m going to go on a very public crusade. And no matter how much you dislike the man, he’s still doing some good for rank and file members.

        Is this the union I wish to hand off to the next generation? Do I want to pass a strong union, with bipartisan support, the ability to get things done, with positive results for members, locals, and States/Provincials onto the next generation? Yes. Unequivocally, Yes. Could we improve…sure…what organization couldn’t do better. Doesn’t change the fact that you’re hurting the next generation of the IAFF by this.

        Are we a perfect organization? In my mind, yes. Our core mission, our common goals, our beliefs…unions in general, fighting for working people, better safety, etc… that is the most noble and perfect organization to be a part of. However, our association has an imperfection because it is run by human beings which inherently are imperfect. But again, the organization is greater than you or I or even Harold.

        What you’re saying could be right. However, how you’re saying it and who you’re saying it to is so wrong.

        You and Harold are old and you can both ride off into the sunset and live comfortably in retirement. Meanwhile, those of us in the trenches who are worrying about putting food on the table or having a retirement at all don’t need this drama playing out on a national stage damaging our reputation! Again, your issue with one man is harming the greater good.

        • Eric Lamar says:

          Your view is that honesty and disclosure will harm the IAFF and mine is that it will save it.

          The IAFF I have been a member of for 39 years is tough enough to handle the truth, sorry your’s is not.

          • LK says:

            Your view is that honesty and disclosure will harm the IAFF and mine is that it will save it? Why do you think you know my view??? And why do you think you’re the saving grace?

            I have not said honesty and disclosure are bad. I have not defended the alleged behavior. I haven’t defended the accused even. I do recognize that there are two sides to the story and you’re only telling one. I read the times article. It wasn’t the perfect supporting document that you want it to be or that you’re making it out to be.

            To be clear I am not defending the alleged behavior or Harold. I’m not condemning WHAT you’re saying. I am condemning HOW you’re saying it and the audience you’re choosing. I’m defending the honor and reputatuon of the IAFF. A reputation you are harming. That does not benefit us!

            Your boiler plate rebuttal to everyone commenting is that honesty and disclosure will benefit the IAFF. Nobody has said that it wouldn’t. You keep dodging actual point…you’re harming the IAFF in the way you are pursuing this.

            What chiefbobr said is spot on and you shrugged it off because it didn’t coincide with what you want the narrative to be. You guys need to sit down and settle whatever differences there are; or somebody needs to stop; or all need to go away.

            You’re retired. Why bastardize this great organization in your clear pursuit of one man? Again, that makes you no better or less self serving than what you claim him to be. You’re putting your position above the rest of us. Sound familiar? You have strayed as far away from what’s best for this organization as you claim the President has. As much as you may hate to hear this…you aren’t the solution, you are part of the problem.

          • Eric says:

            Let me be clear, the disclosure we really need is an outside look at the IAFF and how it operates including the inappropriate use of per diems which do nothing more than damage our ability to serve our members.

            I obviously do not share your view that a retired member has no use or role to play in making sure that we deliver a strong honest Union to the next generation.

      • DC says:

        Well, the article gives ammunition to the Union Bashers, so things like this will make it so we don’t have a Union to hand down to the next generation.
        This stuff is an internal issue. Any issue we have with someone WE elect need not be smeared outside our Union. This article went to EVERYONE. For what purpose? All it does is serve to hurt OUR Union, not one man.
        Be Safe, Brothers and Sisters
        L 1188

  • Mike Newbury says:

    Eric
    I know of you but do not know you personally. I’m a 23+ year member and of corse I want a squeaky clean union. If the accusations about per diem are true then that’s sad…. I’m not saying you are untrue… I’m just saying I’m new to this conversation, and want a little time to research the matter and the NYT article, and you….
    So what’s the deal here in regards to you, why did you leave the internationals employ and under what circumstances? Where you let go? If so why? Or did you retire outright? This is important because details go to your credibility, so please explain… I ask you this because I want you to have a chance to put it in your terms.

    • Eric Lamar says:

      Hi, Mike. Thanks for writing. Fair question. I made the decision to retire in 2009.

      Here is the email Harold Schaitberger sent out when I did.

      Thanks.

      From: Schaitberger Harold
      Sent: Thursday, December 17, 2009 3:00 PM
      To: Bollon Vincent; #District VPs; #Trustees; #All Assistants; #All Directors
      Cc: #ccCOS and Teresa; #ExecSecys
      Subject: Eric Lamar Retirement Announcement

      This is to inform you that Eric Lamar, my long-time friend, advisor and member of my senior staff since 2000, has notified me of his intention to retire as of January 15, 2010.

      I’ve known Eric for a long time. He spent 22 years with and was a decorated fire fighter for the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, and he served as president of both Local 2068 and the Virginia Professional Fire Fighters, which as you all know are my home local and state.

      Eric joined the IAFF in 1998, and contributed significantly to the early development of our on-line learning programs and our very successful HazMat/WMD training programs. He has been a force in pushing to advance human relations issues within our union and for the past three years, he’s done a tremendous job as my assistant in bringing together our Information Technology Division.

      What I’ve valued most through the years is Eric’s unique ability to translate his frontline fire fighter and union leadership experience into policies and programs provided by this IAFF that made a real difference for our members. And that unique skill was put to work after the attacks of 9/11 and in the devastation after Hurricane Katrina, where Eric spend untold months in the field, literally sleeping in a tent outside a church in Louisiana while helping feed, clothe and shelter our members who had lost everything, just to make sure our members were taken care of.

      I personally and this union will miss his professionalism and dedication to improving and protecting our members’ lives. Please join me in thanking Eric for his tremendous service to this union and our great membership.

      Fraternally,
      Harold A. Schaitberger
      General President
      International Association of Fire Fighters
      1750 New York Ave. N.W.
      Washington D.C. 20006
      202-824-1501

  • SP says:

    Eric seems like everyone is all for skimming the per diems. They don’t like how you’re bringing out the corruption and don’t mind the corruption of their leader. That’s the total reason why I got out of the Union, local corruption. My Union board went behind the backs of our union members and went straight to our city councilman to get something killed. 85% of union members wanted it but our union board didn’t like it. That wasn’t the only things I had a problem with, but was the last straw. Good luck with your fight.

  • Scott says:

    I don’t remember signing up for this crap. Was I drunk or did you hijack my email address?

    Either way, I did manage to add you to my spam folder, but even it has standards. Please remove me.

  • chiefbobr says:

    There’s an old adage in the fire service that says that firefighters are their own worst enemies, and nothing reinforces the accuracy of that statement more than what’s going on in this Lamar vs. the IAFF leadership fiasco. As (another) IAFF member with over 40 years of service, I find this ongoing diatribe to be both shameful and disgusting. Guys, when it hits the pages of the New York Times, it has gotten totally out of hand. I think it’s time for the folks on both sides of this issue to sit down at the table together, discuss their differences, right any wrongs that have been committed, and then go back and rededicate themselves to why they took jobs as firefighters in the first place. Continuing this nasty catfighting in the media only serves to give ammunition to those who would destroy our union’s ability to serve their membership, and is in no one’s best interest.

    • Eric says:

      Nice try chief. But this is about the future of our union and that is based on honesty and integrity. Your attempts to make this personal and about a couple of people will fall flat on its face which is exactly where it belongs.

  • Marcus says:

    I support you Eric! I would like an honest and ethical IAFF. Not a power hungry organization filled with greed and intolerance.

    Fire fighter in Canada

  • Rocko says:

    Now I can understand why he was pushing for the IAFF and FMBA to merge in NJ so badly!!! I hope all my fellow FMBA members read this and throw this guy right out of NJ laughing at him…..

  • Newton Gamewell says:

    This article comes out just as we have a $.11/month per cap increase which is several thousand for my local. There is nowhere to turn.

    i could have sworn that the person who stated the “IAFF sides with my president” was referring to my local. They (Schaitberger and my president) both have the same mindset – whatever it takes, at any cost.

    I believe that when looking at issues, you do it from the guy that rides backwards for a living. If you want to eat big then pull out your own credit card and seek reimbursement. At no time should dues be paying for booze. it’s not your money. Get out of this entitlement mindset.

    How can you justify spending that kind of money on dinners when we have locals who are being financially depleted by city managers who push easily resolved items to arbitration?

    All you have to do is go to a conference/convention and see the issue. Harold and his boys are usually walking out of the breakfast buffet that costs $35/plate, while his hard working members stand in line for the yogurt and coffee. You have be frugal when you expect your $71/day per-diem to guy you three meals and one round for the brothers at the bar.

    Repairing the damage from pension reform and the economic setbacks is going to take time and member involvement. You’re not going to get member involvement when they become disenfranchised and choose not to belong to the IAFF.

  • Tom says:

    Regardless of your opinion or which side your on, it belongs in the union hall or at convention. Not by cowardly dropping a dime to the press or in a public forum. All the press and anti-union crowd are going to do is paint the whole membership with that broad brush. (including you) Many who have and continue to fight for our benefits, safety, and jobs in general. If you don’t like how you are being represented, then run for a position or vote for someone else. All the public bickering does, is weaken the union.

    • Eric Lamar says:

      You could not be more wrong, especially when justice is denied inside the IAFF. You obviously have not a clue about how the IAFF trial board system operates. Please educate yourself before drawing ignorant conclusions. Thank you.

  • Cristina says:

    They are a big joke harassing people and using emergency vehicles for their own personal gain. While people need them they aren’t available . They are too busy playing unethical games.

  • Cristina says:

    In addition to my original comment I would like the community to be aware of this so called Union and observe their locations. You never see them handling a emergency , just running the roads harassing people. What a unprofessional idiotic Union. Please let someone look into these frauds.

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