MSVFA News Archives

2011 FESTIVAL OF TRIBUTE & HONOR

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An exciting event is planned for September 2011 in Minneapolis to honorFirefighters, Law Enforcement, Emergency Services, all branches of theArmed Forces and Veterans. The event is sponsored by the New HopeCommunity Services of America, Inc., http://www.nhcsa-mn.org.It is the idea of founder Frank Tagliano. As Secretary of the MN StateVolunteer Firefighters Assn., I was invited to serve as liaison to thevolunteer fire service community to get the message out about the event.

The first meeting of the Executive Planning Committee took place in midJuly. Representatives were on hand to give input from their field ofservice to learn of the plans and how each will assist to make this avery successful event. Meetings will continue bi-monthly till the event.

After introductions, we were given the planned itinerary for the 2011Festival of Tribute & Honor. It will take place over three days,Friday, September 16th to Sunday, September 18th. Friday will start outwith Opening Ceremonies in the State Capitol Rotunda followed by a pregame show at the Twins game at Target Field that evening.

Saturday will be the Parade of Tribute & Honor featuring marching bands,fire trucks, emergency vehicles and members of each of the military andemergency services. The parade is expected to have more than 125,000people viewing the event.

That evening will be a private concert for qualifying members. Sundayconcludes the event with a Memorial Service. Planningfor this event has been going on for sometime now and I am proud torepresent the volunteer fire service on the Committee. From what I havelearned to date, this will be a spectacular event that will truly be anhonor to all members of the military and emergency services. The datecoincides with 9-11 and recognition of POW’s and MIA.

We will be looking to have a large contingent of antique fire trucksand personnel in the parade and I will keep everyone informed on this.Much of the cost of this event will be donated from corporations andother donations. It is anticipated to still cost more than $200,000 forthe event. To offset some of the cost the Vikings have offered asizeable donation in exchange for New Hope Community Services ofAmerica, Inc. operating a concession stand at each Vikings home game.We need your help as volunteers to work in the concession stand.

Members working the stand will be given free admission to the game, afood and drink voucher and allowed to watch to final quarter of thegame. The concession stands shut down at the end of the third quarter.There will be between 15 and 20 people working each game. You canexpect to work 3-4 hours with breaks. I would hope we could get atleast 5 firefighters interested in volunteering at each game.

You can check the schedule of games and determine which game you wouldlike to volunteer for and then supply me with your name, the name ofyour department and contact phone number. For those interested involunteering or wishing more details contact me at 612-598-6369 or msvfasec@msvfa.org.

Keep the date open for September 16-18, 2011 and plan to participate orattend one of the events at the Festival of Tribute & Honor.

Dave Ganfield
Secretary MSVFA
msvfasec@msvfa.org

Two-Hatter Situation Not an Isolated Incident

In March, an article published on www.mycentraljersey.com and reprinted in the NationalVolunteer Fire Council’s (NVFC) E-updatereported the story of Michael Schaffer, a career firefighter whoresigned from the Cherry Hill Firefighters Local 2663 under pressurefrom his union because he serves as a volunteer firefighter in BerlinTownship, where he lives, during off-duty hours. The InternationalAssociation of Fire Fighters (IAFF) prohibits its members fromvolunteering as emergency responders in jurisdictions where an IAFFlocal is present and/or looking to expand into.

According to the article, "Rather than risk expulsion by his ‘brothers’ for doingsomething that he loves and that runs in the family, Schaffer resigned[in February] from his union…" The article also indicates that theunion plans to bring up other members on charges in the future.

Career firefighters who volunteer during off-duty hours (commonly known as"two-hatters") are hardly unique. A Department of Homeland Securitysurvey of close to 17,000 fire departments (slightly more than half ofthe nation’s fire departments) that applied to the Assistance toFirefighters Grant program in FY 2006 identified more than 27,000career firefighters who serve as volunteers during off-duty hours.Two-hatters were identified in every state in the union, plus PuertoRico, except for Hawaii and the District of Columbia.

Schaffer’s ordeal is only one instance of two-hatters being pressured to quitvolunteering or leave the union. In 2006, Vincent Pereira, a careerfirefighter with the Port Reading Fire District No. 2 and a volunteerfirefighter in the Colonia Volunteer Fire Company, was expelled fromthe Woodbridge Fire Fighters Association, Local 290, for his volunteeractivities. Pereira, who like Schaffer lives and works in New Jersey,quit volunteering when he joined Local 290, only to re-join afterdiscovering that a number of fellow union members were volunteeringduring off-duty hours, despite the IAFF’s prohibition.

Unlike Schaffer, Pereira did not resign from the union and was eventuallybrought up on formal charges and subjected to a Trial Board hearing onJanuary 5, 2006. Pereira provided the NVFC with a transcript from the hearing, which has beenposted on the NVFC’s Volunteer Advocacy Committee web site atwww.nvfc.org/volunteeradvocacy. Pereira was ultimately expelledfrom membership in the Local and the IAFF.

Pereira and Schaffer both stood up to IAFF pressure, eventually choosing tocontinue serving their communities as volunteer firefighters ratherthan maintaining their union membership. Many two-hatters simply takethe path of least resistance and drop out of the volunteer fire servicerather than take on their union and face the accompanying personal andprofessional fallout in the workplace.

In April 2009, at the NVFC’s annual spring meeting, the Board of Directors voted to adopt a Statementon the Right to Volunteer, which advocates, among other things, "…the rights of volunteer, career,or paid-on-call firefighters to serve multiple organizations orcommunities." The Board also directed the NVFC Volunteer AdvocacyCommittee to establish an awareness campaign to inform the public aboutthe two-hatter issue.

If you are a two-hatter and are underpressure from your union to give up serving your community as avolunteer emergency responder, please visit the NVFC Volunteer AdvocacyCommittee’s web site atwww.nvfc.org/volunteeradvocacy. The page includes a form you cansubmit to alert the Volunteer Advocacy Committee to your situation.

Duluth Firefighters Union boots 3 firefighters for volunteering

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/151974/

FOX 21 News: Union boots firefighters

After Bob Noldin built ahome in Hermantown last year, the 23-year veteranof the Duluth Fire Department decided he should serve on his newcommunity'svolunteer fire department.

"I thought it would be nice to help them, and they're short [of] firefighters up here," he said.

Noldin volunteered for Hermantown along with fellow Duluth firefightersSandy Merritt and Brian Black. But when the Duluth Fire Union foundout, the three were asked to resign their union memberships early this year.Noldin said he took that route rather than stop volunteering for Hermantown.

Under state law, the three are still technically union members and haveto pay dues, but they don't have a voting stake in union activities.

Merritt and Black could not be reached Friday for comment.

Full Story

Looks like Duluth will not be eligible for the valuable SAFER awards.Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants of theU.S.Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

 

http://www.firegrantsupport.com/docs/2009SAFERguidance.pdf

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) should also be reviewed on the grant program's website (www.firegrantsupport.com).

Appendix 2

Grantee Responsibilities

http://www.firegrantsupport.com/docs/2009SAFERguidance.pdf

Page 32

(9) Not withstanding any provision of other laws, firefighters hiredunder these grants shall not be discriminated against for, or be prohibitedfrom, engaging in volunteer activities in another jurisdiction during off-dutyhours.

H.R. 413 Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009

To provide collective bargaining rights for public safety officers employed by States ortheir political subdivisions.

1/9/2009--Introduced.

PublicSafety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009 - Provides collectivebargaining rights for public safety officers employed by states orlocal governments.

Directs the Federal Labor RelationsAuthority todetermine whether state law provides specified rights andresponsibilities for public safety officers, including:

(1) grantingpublic safety employees the right to form and join a labor organizationwhich excludes management and supervisory employees, and which is, orseeks to be, recognized as the exclusive bargaining agent for suchemployees; and

(2) requiring public safety employers to recognize andagree to bargain with the employees' labor organization. Requires theAuthority to issue regulations establishing rights and responsibilitiesfor public safety employers and employees in states that do notsubstantially provide for such public safety employee rights andresponsibilities.

Directs the Authority, in such cases,to:

(1)determine the appropriateness of units for labor organizationrepresentation;

(2) supervise or conduct elections to determine whethera labor organization has been selected as an exclusive representativeby a voting majority of the employees in an appropriate unit;

(3)resolve issues relating to the duty to bargain in good faith;

(4)conduct hearings and resolve complaints of unfair labor practices; and

(5) resolve exceptions to arbitrator's awards. Grants a public safetyemployer, employee, or labor organization the right to seek enforcementof Authority regulations and orders, as well as prohibitions againstlockouts or strikes, through appropriate state courts. Prohibits publicsafety employers, employees, and labor organizations from engaging inlockouts or strikes.

Providesthat existing collective bargaining units and agreements shall not beinvalidated by this Act.

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-413

S. 1611: Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-1611

GAO Two Hatter Report

Summary Statistics on Two-Hatter Firefighters - Download the full report hereIn November 2004, the House Science Committee requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conduct a study todetermine, among other things, estimates of the number of career (paid) firefighters whovolunteer their services during off-duty hours. These firefighters are known as two-hatterfirefighters. In October, 2005, GAO reported that it could not provide nationwide data on the numberof two-hatters because such data were not readily available.

1 In light of this situation, GAO requested that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)collect such information as part of its fiscal year 2006 Assistance to FirefightersGrant Program application process. Thus, DHS included the following question for volunteer,combination, orpaid-on-call fire departments to address.

2 How many of your volunteer firefighters are paid members from another career department?DHS received 18,172 applications. Of these applications, 16,919 were submitted by fire departments.

3 The following is a summary of the data collected based on unvalidatedresponses to this question. Number of Two-Hatter Firefighters by Department Type

  • Number of two-hatters reported by volunteer fire departments 13,244
  • Number of two-hatters reported by combination fire departments 12,568
  • >Number of two-hatters reported by paid on-call/stipend fire departments 1,922

Total number of two-hatter firefighters reported by fire departments applying

for the fiscal year 2006 Assistance to Firefighter Grant 27,734

Source: data from DHS’s fiscal year 2006 Assistance to Firefighters grant applications.

Restrictions That Prohibit Career Firefighters from Volunteering during Their Off-Duty Hours, Washington, D.C.:Oct. 2005).

2 A volunteer fire department is composed of firefighters that are notpaid for their services, whereas a combination fire department has both volunteers (unpaid firefighters) and careerfirefighters. A paid on-call/stipend fire department has volunteer firefighters that may have other occupations when theyare not engaged in occasional firefighting. Although these firefighters have volunteered to become members and torespond to the call for help, they are compensated as employees during the time they are responding to anemergency scene or attending training. Alternatively, paid on-call stipend firefighters may receive a monthly stipend.3 Emergency Medical Service organizations may also apply for theAssistance to Firefighter grants. According to the fiscalyear 2006 program guidance for this grant program, eligible EMSorganizations are public or private nonprofit organizationsthat provide direct emergency medical services, including medicaltransport, to a specific geographic area on a first-due basis but are not affiliated with a hospital and do notservice geographic areas where emergency medical services are adequately provided by a fire department.

Statewide Volunteer Firefighter Retirement Plan by PERA

  • Plan explanation - here

Statewide Volunteer Firefighter Retirement Plan by the LMNC

In 2009, the Minnesota Legislature created a Statewide Volunteer FirefighterRetirement Plan (SVFRP) for volunteer firefighters who provide serviceto a municipal fire department or an independent nonprofit firefightingcorporation. Participation in the plan is voluntary. The decision to participate inthe plan is made jointly by the entity operating the fire department and thevolunteer firefighter relief association. Individual firefighters cannot join theplan on their own.

The SVFRP will be operational Jan. 1, 2010. It will be administered by thePublic Employees Retirement Association (PERA) and is optional formunicipalities that either do not have a volunteer firefighterretirement plan or are seeking an alternative to their existing plan.

Employers who wish to participate in the SVFRP may begin contacting PERA torequest a cost analysis for the benefit level(s) requested. Thegoverning body of the municipality must then approve coverage, and PERA will beginadministering the plan the following January.

Statewide Volunteer Firefighter Retirement Plan Tool Kit available

The League’s Statewide Volunteer Firefighter Retirement Plan Tool Kit wascreated to assist cities that want to join or consider joining thestatewide plan. The tool kit contains a model resolution, answers to frequentlyasked questions (FAQs), a checklist to use as guidance, a copy of thelegislation, and more.

The Model Resolution is included in the tool kit and is also in Microsoft Wordformat here so you can customize it for your city:

NVFC Comments on Article on Collective Bargaining Legislation

US Senate File 2123

Recently, an article by JamesSherk of the Heritage Foundation about the Public SafetyEmployer-Employee Cooperation Act (H.R. 980) has been published in anumber of newspapers across the country. The stated goal of H.R. 980is, "To provide collective bargaining rights for public safety officersemployed by States or their political subdivisions."

The article cites a provisionin H.R. 980 that was designed to protect the right of a careerfirefighter to volunteer during off-duty hours. Specifically, theprovision bars collective bargaining agreements subject to the NationalLabor Relations Act (NLRA) from prohibiting employees from volunteeringduring off-duty hours. The article accurately states that thisprovision would not protect the vast majority of career firefighters.This is because NLRA applies to nongovernmental employees, while mostcareer firefighters are employed by municipal or county units ofgovernment.

The NVFC has worked diligently with Senate staff to develop languagethat would provide protection to career firefighters who volunteerduring off-duty hours. On October 1, the Senate version ofthe Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (S.2123) was introduced and included language in Section8(a)(5) that states that collective bargaining agreements struck instates affected by the bill cannot include provisions prohibitingemployees from volunteering during off-duty hours.

The NVFC does not have a position on S. 2123 but is supportive of thelanguage in Section 8(a)(5) protecting volunteer firefighters. The NVFCnever established a position on H.R. 980 but would oppose enactment oflegislation expanding collective bargaining rights to careerfirefighters without also protecting the right of those samefirefighters to volunteer during off-duty hours should they choose todo so.

On March 6th, 2009 the Minnesota State Volunteer FirefightersAssociation (MSVFA) was awarded a Staffing for Adequate Fire andEmergency Response (SAFER) grant to develop and conduct arecruitment and retention study of the volunteer fire servicethroughout the State of Minnesota.

details here