2017 Affiliate Leadership Training Summit- Anaheim California.
From January 23-26 1732 IAFF members including Brent Steacy and Trevor Edmonds attended the 2017 IAFF Affiliate Leadership Training Summit in Anaheim, California. The Affiliate Leadership Training Summit provides hundreds of courses for Union members from across North America that they can use in their Local. There was also time to listen to speeches from General President Schaitberger and discuss issues with members from other Canadian Locals. Brent and Trevor took several courses that are listed and explained below:
Empowering your Fire Fighters
One of the most important goals for our union is to further engage and empower union members. This course focused on internal communications, internal organization, leadership skills and strategic planning. As a Union executive, we want to keep the membership informed and active in our union. This course covered the power that we all gain by working together. The Union is our voice and helps us make up for some of the power imbalance that exists between the employer and employee. Engaging the firefighters in our union is a key to all of our future.
A lot of this course focused on the attacks on Unions in US at all levels of government. In the US there are many laws that have been passed or are being pushed by government to reduce the rights of Unions and/or encourage their breakdown. Part of this process has involved biased commercials that reinforce negative views of all unions. These laws are focused on undermining a union's ability to represent its members. For example, the loss of collective bargaining rights.
Make no mistake these changes are coming to Canada. In the US, due to the undermining of union image and rights, unions in general have been on a path of declining membership for 50 years. As union membership decreases wages (in comparison to cost of living) have been shown to drop. This trend can also be seen in Canada. For example, when there has been a Conservative government in power, union rights have been eroded.
Moving forward, we need to work together to be strong and reinforce our rights. Public perception is one key to our success. The impression we leave when we are in public can be very important in building our relationship with the people we serve. With a positive public image, where the public has a better understanding of what we actually do, we will have more support if we ever need it.
Most importantly, we need to communicate as a union. The whole membership should feel supported and engaged. We also need all members to know why it is important to be a part of a strong union and the benefits this can provide. We are your union executive and we are here to be your voice.
Canadian Affiliates Fighting Back and Legal Challenges
This workshop focused on an examination of Federal, Provincial and local legal issues that impact legislation governing firefighters in Canada. Initial discussion focused on the U.S. style anti union legislation creeping north of the border. The workshop then touched on Provinces that are looking at changes to the arbitration rules, union financial disclosure, payroll protection legislation and other legislation that weaken the ability of the union to advocate for members in the political realm.
Next this workshop focused on some recent case studies from Canadian locals that are under attack and are fighting back against these politically motivated attacks. Some examples of these attacks to undermine union rights involve arbitration awards, staffing cuts, and honoring first contracts. This workshop offered examples of how Canadian locals have dealt with some of these issues including discussion with executive members from those locals.
The Department of Homeland Security defines an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearm[s] and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.” With the number of active shooter situations increasing, the necessity for coordination between local fire departments and law enforcement agencies is clear. Fire and Law enforcement leaders must plan, train and practice together regularly to assure that they are prepared in the event an active shooter strikes in their community. Training and coordination should include functioning under unified command and the formation of rescue task forces as needed. This workshop will provide a brief history of lessons learned from previous active shooter events, as well as current examples of fire department response protocols, on-scene deployment patterns, and initial and ongoing training programs.
Canadian Duty of Fair Representation
This workshop discussed the Duty of Fair Representation under Canadian Law. Duty of Fair Representation is a legal standard that essentially says that Unions have to represent all members equally. Sean McManus, a lawyer that is frequently consulted by our executive, taught the course. The workshop looked at the handling of DFR complaints in both the civil courts and under Labour Board tribunals in those provinces that allow DFR complaints to be heard by Labour Board tribunals. The workshop also reviewed current DFR decisions.
Fundamentals of Political Action and Lobbying in Canada
Local government officials are ultimately responsible for making decisions that affect the wages and benefits of firefighters. This workshop covered ways that our local can improve our political action. Also covered was an overview of the political process as well as an examination of the nuts and bolts of lobbying all levels of government. Particularly valuable was a discussion that evolved from the workshop with Burnaby Local 323 president Jeff Clark around the issues and successes of Burnaby's very politically involved membership.
Responding to the Interface: Interface Operations
Fire in the Urban Interface has been identified as the fastest-growing fire-related problem in the United States and Canada. The paradigm shift of these urban interface (WUI) fires has significantly altered the conventional risks to structural firefighters. Because interface fires present very different and specific hazards, just as with Hazardous Material incidents, specialized training is needed. This program highlighted the Urban Interface problem and presented solutions to the training needs of our members.
Advertising on Facebook
This workshop covered how to engage audiences on Facebook who are our voters and how to generate a large audience return. As Facebook continually evolves to maintain its dominance over the social media landscape, the IAFF is focusing on ways for its affiliates to increase their effectiveness. The workshop focused on building an issue based campaign by using Facebook Ad Manager Program to reach the people we need to answer our call to action.
Canadian EMS Issues
This course covered Fire/ Ambulance issues across Canada and and promoted discussion on what's currently working, what problems still persist, and the potential next steps for EMS advancement. In recent years, Ambulance has become much more organised politically. This is being monitored by locals across the country to ensure that the systems that are in place are what is best for the public in their time of need.
Interesting points brought up:
-In Ontario, two municipalities are looking at doing a pilot project running a paramedic on each firetruck.
-In BC, the Auditor General is looking at BCAS right now and will be providing a report at some point. BCAS Paramedics are trying to open the Police Fire Bargaining Act to include themselves. They will require 10% signatures in each riding for the act to be opened.
Basic Parliamentary Procedures
This introductory course on Parliamentary Procedure was an interactive learning experience designed to give participants the ability and confidence to fully participate in a meeting and to understand and exercise their rights as members.
Effective Leadership: Strength Purpose, Results
Participants in this course built on leadership fundamentals learned previously. It addressed the various circumstances affiliate leaders face and the dynamics of the leadership relationship as situations, environments or contexts change. Participants also focused on the importance of communication between leader and follower, and overall need for drive and determination particularly in extreme situations.
Discipline: Your Rights and Responsibilities
This workshop provided an overview of union executive members rights and responsibilities during the employment disciplinary process. Discussed was how to best represent members during the disciplinary process. Included was the objective of discipline and the reasons for progressive discipline.
Used properly, discipline is intended to correct the action.This is why we have progressive discipline; if the original discipline didn’t correct the action the discipline is increased to the minimum amount to correct the action.
IAFF members are constantly confronted with choices that match work against family life and other personal obligations. Fire Fighters must balance their shifts with family events, holidays, and other obligations This workshop gave union leaders some tools to help themselves and their members address these work-family issues for a better Work/Life balance.
This course covered grievances and the strategy around filing grievances. A grievance is an alleged violation of contract, law, past practice or an appeal to discipline. Under our contract a first stage grievance is decided by the FIre Chief and a second stage grievance is decided by the Chief Administrative Officer. If no settlement is reached with the Chief Administrative Officer the grievance may be referred to be finally and conclusively settled through arbitration. Also discussed in the course was how to decide when to go to arbitration, strategy for resolving issues with management before filing a grievance, as well as how to best serve members and avoid DFR complaints.
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