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    Listen Live to Medford Fire!

    Apr 27, 2011


    By Kyle Cheney

    STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, APRIL 20, 2011…..Fifty Democratic lawmakers, including six of Speaker Robert DeLeo's handpicked committee chairs, have lined up behind a union-backed alternative to a House leadership proposal that would permit cities and towns to unilaterally shift health care costs onto their workers, setting up a high-stakes policy battle during next week's budget debate.

    The issue presents a math challenge for DeLeo and Democratic House leaders, who may be forced to rely on Republican votes to pass their plan, unless they can peel away support from a competing plan offered by Rep. Martin Walsh (D-Dorchester) and favored by unions.

    The prospect of a gubernatorial veto - Gov. Deval Patrick's proposal on municipal health closely mirrors Walsh's plan - also further clouds the issue, which has divided legislators for years.

    Walsh's plan, backed primarily by rank-and-file House members, including 10 freshmen, would restore some collective bargaining power for municipal unions, granting them a 45-day window to negotiate with administrators over health benefits, and sending the matter to arbitration if they fail to agree.

    Under the plan offered by Walsh, who also works as secretary-treasurer of the Boston Building Trades Council, workers would also share in at least 25 percent of the savings cities and towns realize by shifting health costs. Cities and towns would be guaranteed a quarter of the savings as well, and the remainder would be subject to negotiations. A nearly identical proposal narrowly passed the Senate last year.

    The head of the Massachusetts Municipal Association told the News Service Wednesday that the Walsh plan included "ridiculous" provisions and would represent a "disaster for local taxpayers."

    But union officials have made clear in letters to representatives that they consider the vote on Walsh's amendment a referendum on collective bargaining and will hold opponents accountable politically.

    "You are either on the side of collective bargaining for the workers who have been willing to compromise on this issue, or you are against those collective bargaining rights and want to reward intractable, uncompromising management advocates like the MMA," Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Robert Haynes wrote in a letter soliciting support for Walsh's amendment. The letter included one bolded line: "All votes relating to the matters discussed in this letter may be considered Labor Votes and calculated into Labor Voting Records upon which endorsements and levels of support are determined."

    Walsh's proposal would undo the plan endorsed by the House Ways and Means Committee that would sharply reduce municipal employee unions' influence over their health care costs. The Ways and Means plan - backed by mayors, business groups, education groups and municipal officials - would grant city and town managers the power to raise co-pays and deductibles, within certain constraints, without negotiating with unions.

    Backers of the Ways and Means plan argue that the ever-increasing cost of municipal health care has deflated attempts to invest in education and public safety, tying the hands of city and town governments struggling to balance their budgets. The proposal, they note, preserves collective bargaining over premiums - a power state workers don't enjoy - and caps unilateral co-pay and premium increases at the level of the most popular plan to which state workers subscribe.

    In addition, the proposal would permit cities and towns to enter the Group Insurance Commission --- the state employee health plan - without obtaining union support. In all, supporters say it would save $100 million across the state's 351 cities and towns.

    "This has been a reform that's been a long time coming," Rep. Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington), vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee, said when the proposal was unveiled last week. "The time has finally come for us to give cities and towns a management tool that will help to save money for them and to preserve jobs and services at the local level. That's what it's all about."

    Rep. Brian Dempsey, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told the News Service that the Walsh amendment is proof that House lawmakers agree on the need to reform the municipal health care system, despite differences in their approach.

    "What we're doing is analyzing the amendment and will be identifying for the members some of the concerns about that particular amendment relative to the difficulty it presents for municipalities ability to go into GIC, as well as some of the other issues with that," he said. "I think it will certainly be a healthy debate."

    Asked about the tenor of the debate between unions, municipalities and other groups, Dempsey said the House's proposal, in part, was the result of a failure of the groups to agree on a solution for years.

    "Certainly it was, I think our hope that for the last few years some of these issues would've been resolved because folks have been at the table. Unfortunately, they haven't been resolved to a large degree, which has led us to our proposal. I think we're going to have a lengthy and healthy debate on this."

    House leaders are also operating, they believe, with public imprimatur. A Suffolk University poll earlier this month showed that 51 percent of voters believe unions have too much power and just 34 percent believe that the employee-management balance is "just right." In that poll - a survey of 500 likely Massachusetts voters between April 3 and April 5 with a 4.4 percent margin of error - 54 percent of respondents said they believe that public employees receive higher pay and better benefits than private-sector workers doing similar jobs.

    It remains to be seen whether Democrats who endorsed the Walsh proposal will continue to stand against leadership when it comes time to vote. However, if the numbers hold, Democratic leaders will be forced to count on Republican votes to ensure passage of their municipal health care plan, a rare dynamic in a reliably dark-blue Legislature.

    "Whenever the possibility exists that Republican votes could impact the outcome of a vote, it's sort of a different day around here," said House Minority Leader Bradley Jones (R-North Reading).

    Jones said his caucus, which has concerns about the cost of health care within cities and towns and the way existing law is structured, would take a serious look at the proposals on the table.

    Another surprising fact: 13 of the 26 Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee signed onto Walsh's plan to undo the proposal that the committee endorsed last week, although none spoke against it on the day the budget was released and approved by the Ways and Means panel on a voice vote.

    Ways and Means Committee members passed on a chance to amend the committee plan. Amendments during committee executive sessions, once a fairly common practice, have become rare over the years, especially given the increasing frequency of committee votes occurring via polling.

    The split in the Democratic caucus over municipal workers' collective bargaining power has been fueled, in part, by union heads, who issued strongly worded rejections of the Ways and Means version of the plan, calling it a non-starter and threatening political retribution for lawmakers who support it.

    The Walsh proposal drew support from six House committee chairs: Walsh, who chairs the Ethics Committee, and Reps. Frank Smizik, Alice Wolf, Antonio Cabral, Rep. Cheryl Coakley-Rivera, and Kay Khan (D-Newton). The rest are rank-and-file Democrats. The 10 freshmen who endorsed Walsh's plan represent more than half of the newest Democrats in the Legislature.

    Members of the Ways and Means Committee who are seeking to undo the panel's municipal health provision include: Reps. Koczera, Christine Canavan, Timothy Toomey, Benjamin Swan, Colleen Garry, Geraldine Creedon, David Sullivan, Ruth Balser, John Fresolo, Joyce Spiliotis, Carl Sciortino, Michael Brady, and James Dwyer.

    Municipal officials and education groups backing the Ways and Means proposal showcased their support Wednesday, holding a press conference in Revere.

    Geoff Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, said the Walsh amendment "would represent no real reform" and would expand binding arbitration, which he called "a disaster for local taxpayers."

    "It allows an independent, unaccountable outside person to make decisions affecting not only municipal health benefits but what taxpayers pay," he said. "That's totally unacceptable."

    Beckwith also called provision requiring that 25 percent of the savings go to city and town coffers "ridiculous."

    "The reason why it's ridiculous is that the whole purpose of municipal health insurance reform is to save taxpayers money and services and protect municipal jobs," he said.

    Walsh on Wednesday declined to talk with the News Service about his amendment. The issue was the topic of discussions during a meeting of House leaders in DeLeo's office on Wednesday.

    Apr 10, 2011

    IAFF Keeps Up the Fight

    From collective bargaining, dues check-off and wages, pensions, union security, benefits and worker rights, the political attacks on IAFF members and other public employee unions continue in state after state. The IAFF and its affiliates have worked hard to identify these threats and fight back like never before.

    IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews April 1, reinforcing the message that the IAFF backs politicians who back fire fighters, regardless of party affiliation. “Our principles have always been straightforward and that’s that we will support those in the elected field who support us,” Schaitberger said.

    “This is not about budgets and deficits," he added. "This is a fraud. This is about the right-wing of the GOP that sees an opportunity to make a power move to try to cripple our unions and take workers’ rights away. But what they are really doing is galvanizing our members.”

    IAFF members are pushing back and pushing back hard - in Ohio, Michigan, New Hampshire and Florida, to name just a few states.

    Ohio Governor John Kasich and the GOP-controlled legislature passed SB 5, legislation that eliminates bargaining rights that have been in place since 1983. Now IAFF members and the rest of labor are ready to wage an expensive referendum campaign to beat back this attack. On April 7, the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters (OAPFF) voted unanimously to assess OAPFF members $100 to build a $1 million war chest to repeal SB 5. IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger attended the meeting, which was held in Columbus.

    In New Hampshire, where the state legislature is pushing a proposal to amend the state collective bargaining law to dramatically roll back collective bargaining rights and make all state workers at-will employees after a contract expires, IAFF members are fighting back.

    The Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire (PFFNH) aired this radio spot across the state to bring people to a March 31 "Rally for New Hampshire." More than 1,000 workers converged on the steps of the State House in Concord to protest a two-year, $10.2 billion state budget that will curtail collective bargaining rights for public sector workers.

    In Florida, lawmakers in the House want to gut unions by curbing their ability to collect dues through automatic paycheck deductions, forcing them to get written permission from each member before making political contributions and calling for unions that fall below a certain level of membership to be stripped of collective bargaining rights. The state legislature also wants to change the way the Florida Retirement System (FRS) is funded - even though it's fully funded.

    The Florida Chamber of Commerce aired this commercial featuring public employees - including fire fighters - in an outrageously misleading attempt to urge voters to support paycheck protection legislation. The Florida Professional Firefighters (FPF) was quick to rebut the commercial in the media and is preparing to air ads in Tallahassee. 

    The Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union (MPFFU) will be releasing video ads in select markets that ask voters to help stop the state legislature from passing a number of anti-worker, anti-union bills, including HB 4205 which proposes to repeal binding arbitration for fire and police. The MPFFU is also producing a video to expose the dangerous and irresponsible practice of combining fire and police departments into a single Public Safety Office (PSO).

    Elsewhere, IAFF affiliates are showing the public who the real enemies are in this political struggle. For example, the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona released this video to battle vicious attacks, including SB 1609, a bill that threatens pay and benefits, and developed a web site to dispel myths about public safety workers’ salaries and gain both public and legislative support.

    This video, released by San Mateo County, CA Local 2400 and the Redwood City Fire Department, features testimonials from community members about the important work fire fighters perform every day. Fire fighters plan to have the clip shown in local movie theaters.

    The IAFF and its affiliates are prepared to fight back in other states where changes to labor laws are being considered. The IAFF has developed this interactive map that affiliates can use to track attacks related to collective bargaining, dues deduction, paycheck protection, political rights, Right to Work legislation and pensions, as well as monitor proposed or potential ballot measures.

    Additional information related to threats occuring throughout the United States is available on the IAFF's Fighting Back campaign web site.

    The Fighting Back web site also includes a number of tools and resources affiliates can use in their own efforts to fight these multifaceted attacks, including fact sheets, graphics and ways to add the Fighting Back campaign web site to their own web sites.  

     The IAFF’s social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and the IAFF Frontline Blog, are also updated daily.

    The IAFF is asking members to help expand the reach of the Fighting Back campaign by growing the number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers. The new goal is to reach 15,000 Facebook fans. 

    Also, please encourage your family and friends to sign up through the Fighting Back web site to receive email updates about the IAFF’s and its affiliates’ Fighting Back efforts.

    The next issue of the International Fire Fighter magazine is focused exclusively on the challenges that IAFF members face and the battles being waged. Watch your mail for this comprehensive look at the multiple threats IAFF affiliates face in state after state and how the IAFF is fighting back.

    And keep us up to date on how you are fighting these  attacks – email feedback@iaff.org.

    Wherever they happen, and however long it takes, the IAFF will continue to defend its members against these attacks and fight to keep what this union has worked hard to achieve.


    Apr 10, 2011

    To the editor,

    After that blatantly manufactured “statewide” report on municipal health insurance (“City, town health plans most costly” 4/5/11), Paul Grogan and Michael Widmer need to change the names of their organizations; and the Globe needs to start reporting them for what they are. They represent the most one-sided interests of anyone engaged in public debate today: big business. The same big businesses that have record profits, and for the first time in history stole all the productivity gains from workers and kept them as profits, are who fund, generously, the smokescreen “think tanks” that produced that report. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation should be called the Massachusetts Business Taxpayers Foundation. But alas, businesses don’t pay taxes in this country or in this commonwealth like the rest of us do, so Widmer should completely reinvent his group’s name. The Mass. Budget and Policy Center reports that the businesses like those that bankrolled Widmer and Grogan only paid 6.4% of total taxes in this state, compared to regular working people who paid 36.8% of the total in personal income taxes. No wonder Paul Grogan has allowed The Boston Foundation to so drastically lose its way; a lot of the money they’re saving on taxes is going to his endowment.

    The only thing gilded about that report are the salaries of Paul Grogan and Michael Widmer, both of whom are making closer to a half-million dollars than they are to your average municipal workers’ salary. That is, unless, you’re talking about Jeffrey D. Nutting, Franklin Town Manager prominently featured in the Globe story, who makes $128,125 per year, had his entire relocation from Medway to Franklin paid for by the taxpayers, has a $6,000 annual car stipend, $4,000 per year in lieu of long-term disability payment, a retirement plan, 47 days of paid time off every year, and an insurance annuity, in addition to health insurance even better than the “gilded” benefits he criticizes those selfish women in the school cafeterias for having; cafeteria workers who make barely above minimum wage, haven’t seen a raise in years, and whose personal share of health insurance costs has gone up every year. This is an all-out public relations assault on the working class by big, shadowy, selfish business interests and its being waged by their shameless mouthpieces like Widmer and Grogan who masquerade as some kind of defenders of the public interest. The public would be shocked at whose interests they’re really shilling. Of course, they’ll never know if the Globe doesn’t bother to report it.

    Workers could very easily cherry pick the fourteen communities with the worst health insurance benefits and produce a report that just as strongly supports our position that municipal workers pay their fair share and have historically, time and again, given up raises in order to maintain their health insurance benefits. More shameful than the bias and foregone conclusion nature of this “statewide” report is the Globe reporting on it as if it was comprehensive and portraying it as an actual reflection of allhealth insurance benefits for public workers around the state. Municipal workers don’t have “overly generous” benefits, no matter how many times Widmer and Grogan parrot that phrase. They have benefits, just like we all should have, whether union or not, whether public or private sector. The report’s methodology is so fundamentally flawed that even the most lax professor would give it a failing grade; the communities were chosen because they had the very best benefits and those with worse benefits were not included. A statewide report should have a bigger sample than just fourteen out of 351, or just 4-percent, of cities and towns. And the Globe should be better than to print it as gospel.



    Robert J. Haynes

    President, Massachusetts AFL-CIO

    389 Main Street Malden, MA 02148


    Apr 02, 2011

    Create Your Next Meal With the Meal Generator

    The IAFF has added a new feature to its Fit to Survive Menu Planner.

    The new web-based Meal Generator application lets you customize meals on the Menu Planner by selecting alternative ingredients. For example, the Meal Generator will display healthy recipes based on the options selected, calculate calories and nutritional data based on your choices and alert you when your selections may not adhere to USDA nutrition guidelines.

    In addition to variable meal options, the nutrition information helps you make informed decisions about your daily dietary consumption. Simply click on any menu where you see “Customize Dinner” to begin creating your next healthy meal.

    Fit to Survive also offers expert advice and practical information on staying fit and healthy, with a special emphasis on how to follow a healthy diet to help reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases.

    You can also test your nutrition knowledge by visiting the On the Run and Fire Drill sections of the Fit to Survive web site.

    Have a recipe to share? The IAFF has introduced a new feature on Facebook and the Frontline Blog that will have your stomachs going “mmmmm good.” Every Tuesday, the IAFF will post recipes on these social networks for you to enjoy.

    Email your recipes to firehouserecipes@iaff.org.



    Mar 26, 2011

    IAFF Fights Back to Protect Worker Rights

    The nationwide assault on IAFF members and other public employee unions continues across the country – from California to Maine – and the IAFF and its affiliates are more determined than ever to fight back.

    Battles being waged this week include attacks threatening IAFF affiliates’ worker rights in Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma and New Hampshire.

    In response to legislation passed late last year in the Alabama state legislature, the IAFF and two of its affiliates in Alabama – Decatur Local 1437 and Cullman Local 2644 – filed suit in federal district court in Huntsville challenging a law that restricts the collection of union dues. This week, Alabama fire fighters rallied with teachers to contest the state law they label an "anti-union attack" by a new Republican majority in Montgomery.

    Act 76 makes it illegal to arrange for public employee payroll deductions for union dues unless the labor organization does not use the dues for “political activity” and defines that term so broadly that it includes even talking about candidates for state and local offices.

    Legislation similar to Act 761 is appearing in legislative sessions in a number of other states, including Tennessee, where fire fighters and paramedics are facing a wave of political attacks from anti-worker lawmakers in the state General Assembly. IAFF affiliates in Tennessee are fighting legislators intent on doing nothing other than undermine unions and the ability to be engaged in the political process.

    Just this week in New Hampshire, the state legislature stepped up its war against workers with a proposal to amend the state collective bargaining law that would turn all state workers into “at-will” employees after a contract expires. The proposed change in the collective bargaining law is just a slice of the hostility directed towards public employees and labor unions in New Hampshire, including efforts to dramatically cut pension benefits for fire fighters.

    The IAFF and the Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma (PFFO) began airing advertisements this week asking voters to urge legislators to vote against Senate Bill 826, a measure that would destroy binding arbitration for fire fighters and paramedics. The ad, broadcast across the state, elicited an immediate response from the bill's author, Senator David Holt (R)-Oklahoma City, who demanded the union stop running the commercial in an effort to try to shift the debate away from his anti-worker legislation. The PFFO has no intention of pulling the ads, and issued this response.

    The IAFF is planning similar advertisements in other states where changes to labor laws are being considered.

    All broadcast and print ads produced as part of the IAFF’s national Fighting Back campaign are posted online, along with those created independently by IAFF locals.

    The Fighting Back web site also includes related news, letters to the editor and press releases, as well as a number of tools and resources affiliates can use in their own efforts to fight these multifaceted attacks, including fact sheets, graphics and ways to add the Fighting Back campaign web site to their own web sites.  

    Additional information related to threats occurring throughout the United States is updated daily on the IAFF’s social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and the IAFF Frontline Blog.

    The IAFF is asking members to help expand the reach of the Fighting Back campaign by growing the number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers. The new goal is to reach 15,000 Facebook fans. 

    Also, please encourage your family and friends to sign up through the Fighting Back web site to receive email updates about the IAFF’s and its affiliates’ Fighting Back efforts.

    Watch your mail for a Special Edition of the International Fire Fighter magazine for a comprehensive look at the multiple threats IAFF affiliates face in state after state and how the IAFF is fighting back.

    Be assured, the IAFF will continue to fight back against these politically motivated attacks by public officials who want to blame the recession on fire fighters and paramedics. 


    Mar 26, 2011


    STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, MARCH 7, 2011…. Municipal officials on Monday panned a health care reform "compromise" from union leaders, who said they would be willing to make concessions on benefits this year as long as collective bargaining rights were preserved and workers could share equally in any savings achieved through restructured health plans.

    The plan, offered by leaders of the state’s largest public employee unions, marked the first concrete proposal from organized labor to cut health care costs that are crippling municipal budgets statewide. The unions said they would agree to cut $120 million in spending on health care for municipal employees in exchange for half of those savings being poured back into health benefits for employees, such as health reimbursement accounts.

    The unions, for the first time, also publicly endorsed the governor’s proposal to force all municipal retirees into Medicare, an option already available to cities and towns but one that hasn’t universally been adopted.

    “We understand the strain on municipal budgets and are prepared unequivocally to provide savings to municipal governments,” said Robert Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, joined by leaders of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the Professional Firefighters of Massachusetts and others.

    The Massachusetts Municipal Association immediately said the insistence of unions on splitting the savings defeats the purpose of municipal health care reform. The MMA has offered its own plan design legislation that would remove health coverage from collective bargaining as long as municipal managers don’t cut benefits deeper than what is offered through the state.

    “There really isn’t much new there. It’s pretty much a repackaged framework from over the past couple of years. There really isn’t much in terms of lasting reform and taxpayer relief,” said Geoffrey Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

    The State House rollout of the proposal served to set parameters on the debate scheduled to formally resume on Beacon Hill Tuesday when the Legislature hosts a hearing on Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposal to achieve cost reductions by forcing unions and communities to negotiate immediately for savings or join the state’s Group Insurance Commission.

    The unions, representing teachers, firefighters, police and other employees, said there plan would save $120 million, the same figure being sought by Patrick and the MMA, without eroding collective bargaining rights.

    The plan agrees to a 45-day window for expedited coalition bargaining, like the governor’s bill, toward a benchmark for savings on health care premiums with higher co-pays, deductibles, or other changes. Those benchmarks have not yet been established, but the governor has proposed using the GIC as a threshold for cost.

    If unions and management could not agree, an independent third-party could decide whether local employees must join one of the state’s group health insurance plans or set the framework for a local plan to achieve similar savings.

    Unlike Patrick’s plan which does call for some sharing of the savings with employees, the unions are calling for 50 percent, or $60 million, to be put back toward other health benefits for employees in the first year. In the second and third years of the agreement, the cities and towns would be allowed to retain all the health care premium relief.

    Ann Clarke, executive director of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, said the proposal was “very much in line with what the governor has laid out,” but said the union plan was “more fleshed out.”

    Union leaders said they hoped the altered process would be a one-time compromise, and unions and municipal managers would go back to bargaining health care under traditional coalition bargaining rules when the new contracts expire. The unions also called for labor representation on the state Group Insurance Commission to be increased to 50 percent of the governing board, giving them enhanced power at the state bargaining table.

    Paul Toner, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, said aggressive efforts to limit GIC cost increases by the state have “negatively impacted many employees most in need of treatment.” The state last week announced that GIC plan premiums would increase on average 2.4 percent, far below average increases at the municipal level.

    Beckwith said the proposal only strengthens the unions’ position at the bargaining table by forcing communities to adopt “coalition bargaining” rather than negotiate with each individual employee union, and potentially puts millions of taxpayer dollars in the hands of an “unaccountable” arbiter.

    “The real problem is we don’t have parity between state and local government,” Beckwith said. “The solution isn’t to take the relief communities could get and direct it to other benefits. That’s not a model the state has used, so the framework would not provide the kind of savings and taxpayer relief that’s needed.”

    House Speaker Robert DeLeo said he had not yet read the unions’ plan or familiarized himself with the details, but called it “a good sign they have come out and decided it is an issue that has to be tackled.” The Speaker has come out in support of moving communities to the state’s Group Insurance Commission without collective bargaining.

    “At the end of the day, I want to see savings. I want to see real savings and I want to see our cities and towns be able to have the opportunity to make sure that they can provide adequate police, adequate fire, adequate teachers, and adequate DPW workers. As long as that is part of the proposal, that is just fine,” DeLeo said.

    The Patrick administration thanked union leaders for their offer to be a partner in efforts to cut health care costs for cash-strapped municipalities.

    "We appreciate the unions' willingness to work with us in delivering cost-savings to cities and towns that will help preserve critical services to residents across the Commonwealth. Governor Patrick has made health care cost-containment a top priority and we look forward to hearing further details of this proposal and again working with public employee unions to tackle the important issues facing Massachusetts,” Secretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez said.

    The union’s proposal is not unlike a Senate plan, adopted as a budget amendment last May but dropped in talks with the House, that would have provided for coalition bargaining and binding arbitration to achieve savings in municipal health care by negotiating plans of equal or greater savings than the GIC.

    The Senate’s plan called for cities and towns to retain 25 percent of the savings, employees to share in another 25 percent, and for the remaining 50 percent of cost savings to be negotiated.

    “At the end of the day there’s a recognition that there’s a crisis that has to be dealt with and that’s a positive, but I think we’re still very far apart in terms the expectations and the details,” said Joel Barrera, of the Metropolitan Planning Commission, which supports plan design and the unilateral authority for managers to join the GIC.

    “I don’t detect any major restructuring of the conversation that we’ve been having,” Barrera said.

    “Unions are not the problem in our economy, or our government,” Haynes said, acknowledging that public employees might be “convenient targets” but have already “sacrificed significantly” during the recession with wages freezes, furloughs and other benefit concessions.


    Mar 07, 2011

    The Ohio Senate vote is a terrible loss for Labor in the United States. The systematic dismantling of collective bargaining is being battled in state houses across the country, and Massachusetts is no exception. Our fight to fix the evergreen decision as well as maintain our voice on healthcare plan design are no different than the fights in Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, or Florida. We must stay united and be prepared to stand up for families and our future. This is our future and our fight! Stay focused!

    Ohio bill curbing union rights passes state Senate

    Edward Kelly

    Professional Fire Fighters of Mass
    130 Bowdoin St.
    Suite 710
    Boston MA 02108

    IAFF President Addresses Wisconsin Workers
    Mar 01, 2011


    The nation's focus this week is on Madison, Wisconsin, where public employees and their supporters crowded the State Capitol, city streets and plazas to protest Governor Scott Walker’s attempt to destroy public sector unions under the guise of solving the state’s budget woes.

    Both outside and inside the State Capitol building, throngs of protesters demonstrated for days with chants of “kill this bill!” and “Walker must go!”  This YouTube video captures the last half of
    IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger's address to a crowd of more than 25,000 at the Wisconsin Capitol Square in Madison, Wisconsin February 17.

    "Collective bargaining is being challenged in state legislatures in Ohio, Oklahoma, Iowa...this is about the right that wants to take us down," said Schaitberger. "They may have us on our heels but we are going to fight back and we will prevail!"

    Click here to watch the video.

    The measure, which includes provisions to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights, had been moving quickly through the Wisconsin state legislature on its way to Governor Walker’s desk. The legislation came to a halt when State Senate Democrats left Madison to avoid participating in the anti-union budget bill. That move left the Senate without the minimum of 20 members required to act on legislation.


    Option D
    Oct 18, 2007
    Here is some information on Option D for retirement purposes.
    Download: 01lgBeneficiarySelection.pdf

    Judge hears Light Duty Case
    Aug 30, 2006

    The City's appeal in Middlesex Superior Court to overturn the arbitration award in the Light Duty Case has been taken under advisement by the Judge assigned to the case.  A decision could be rendered in the next several weeks or possibly months.  The membership of this Local voted at the May Union Meeting to allow the Court proceedings to play out before making any decisions on further courses of action.

    The Middlesex Superior Court has upheld the arbitration award for Local 1032.  The Chief is not allowed to remove a firefighter from injury leave and place in him/her on light duty.

    Lawsuit filed against Chief, Mayor & Meditrol
    Mar 16, 2006

    Chief Giliberti has ordered Brother John Hayward to sign a medical  release form seeking information in violation of John's medical privacy.  Local 1032 has authorized our attorney to take all necessary legal action to put an end to this violation.

    We would hope that the membership would support Brother Hayward during this very difficult period.  The Chief has threatened him with suspension and termination in his effort to gain private medical information from John. 

    Members should be reminded that anytime the Chief calls you to his office that you have the RIGHT to have a union member with you. 

    Hopefully with the help of the PFFM &  IAFF who are aware of the situation, we can resolve this before it gets totally out of hand.  If this proves to be unsucessful, we are prepared to take all necessary steps to protect ALL MEMBERS rights to protect their PRIVATE MEDICAL INFORMATION.

    UPDATE:  The Chief relieved Brother Hayward from duty 3/3/06 calling him "unfit" for duty and ordered him to the CCC on Monday.  Lawsuit against the Chief, Mayor and Meditrol was filed with Middlesex Superior Court.  copy attached.

    UPDATE: On Sunday  March 12, 2006 Brother Hayward was returned to his regular assignment of Engine 1 Gr. C.  This was after the Chief, the Mayor and Meditrol were served with the lawsuit.

    Download: Hayward Law Suit.pdf

    The Attack on Public Employees
    Mar 01, 2011

    In 1968, 1,300 sanitation workers in Memphis went on strike. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. came to support them. That was where he lost his life. Eventually Memphis heard the grievances of its sanitation workers. And in subsequent years millions of public employees across the nation have benefited from the job protections they've earned.

    But now the right is going after public employees.

    Public servants are convenient scapegoats. Republicans would rather deflect attention from corporate executive pay that continues to rise as corporate profits soar, even as corporations refuse to hire more workers. They don't want stories about Wall Street bonuses, now higher than before taxpayers bailed out the Street. And they'd like to avoid a spotlight on the billions raked in by hedge-fund and private-equity managers whose income is treated as capital gains and subject to only a 15 percent tax, due to a loophole in the tax laws designed specifically for them.

    It's far more convenient to go after people who are doing the public's work -- sanitation workers, police officers, fire fighters, teachers, social workers, federal employees -- to call them "faceless bureaucrats" and portray them as hooligans who are making off with your money and crippling federal and state budgets. The story fits better with the Republican's Big Lie that our problems are due to a government that's too big.

    Above all, Republicans don't want to have to justify continued tax cuts for the rich. As quietly as possible, they want to make them permanent.

    But the right's argument is shot-through with bad data, twisted evidence, and unsupported assertions.

    They say public employees earn far more than private-sector workers. That's untrue when you take account of level of education. Matched by education, public sector workers actually earn less than their private-sector counterparts.

    The Republican trick is to compare apples with oranges -- the average wage of public employees with the average wage of all private-sector employees. But only 23 percent of private-sector employees have college degrees; 48 percent of government workers do. Teachers, social workers, public lawyers who bring companies to justice, government accountants who try to make sure money is spent as it should be -- all need at least four years of college.

    Compare apples to apples and and you'd see that over the last fifteen years the pay of public sector workers has dropped relative to private-sector employees with the same level of education. Public sector workers now earn 11 percent less than comparable workers in the private sector, and local workers 12 percent less. (Even if you include health and retirement benefits, government employees still earn less than their private-sector counterparts with similar educations.)

    Here's another whopper. Republicans say public-sector pensions are crippling the nation. They say politicians have given in to the demands of public unions who want only to fatten their members' retirement benefits without the public noticing. They charge that public-employee pensions obligations are out of control.

    Some reforms do need to be made. Loopholes that allow public sector workers to "spike" their final salaries in order to get higher annuities must be closed. And no retired public employee should be allowed to "double dip," collecting more than one public pension.

    But these are the exceptions. Most public employees don't have generous pensions. After a career with annual pay averaging less than $45,000, the typical newly-retired public employee receives a pension of $19,000 a year. Few would call that overly generous.

    And most of that $19,000 isn't even on taxpayers' shoulders. While they're working, most public employees contribute a portion of their salaries into their pension plans. Taxpayers are directly responsible for only about 14 percent of public retirement benefits. Remember also that many public workers aren't covered by Social Security, so the government isn't contributing 6.25 of their pay into the Social Security fund as private employers would.

    Yes, there's cause for concern about unfunded pension liabilities in future years. They're way too big. But it's much the same in the private sector. The main reason for underfunded pensions in both public and private sectors is investment losses that occurred during the Great Recession. Before then, public pension funds had an average of 86 percent of all the assets they needed to pay future benefits -- better than many private pension plans.

    The solution is no less to slash public pensions than it is to slash private ones. It's for all employers to fully fund their pension plans.

    The final Republican canard is that bargaining rights for public employees have caused state deficits to explode. In fact there's no relationship between states whose employees have bargaining rights and states with big deficits. Some states that deny their employees bargaining rights -- Nevada, North Carolina, and Arizona, for example, are running giant deficits of over 30 percent of spending. Many that give employees bargaining rights -- Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Montana -- have small deficits of less than 10 percent.

    Public employees should have the right to bargain for better wages and working conditions, just like all employees do. They shouldn't have the right to strike if striking would imperil the public, but they should at least have a voice. They often know more about whether public programs are working, or how to make them work better, than political appointees who hold their offices for only a few years.

    Don't get me wrong. When times are tough, public employees should have to make the same sacrifices as everyone else. And they are right now. Pay has been frozen for federal workers, and for many state workers across the country as well.

    But isn't it curious that when it comes to sacrifice, Republicans don't include the richest people in America? To the contrary, they insist the rich should sacrifice even less, enjoying even larger tax cuts that expand public-sector deficits. That means fewer public services, and even more pressure on the wages and benefits of public employees.

    It's only average workers -- both in the public and the private sectors -- who are being called upon to sacrifice.

    This is what the current Republican attack on public-sector workers is really all about. Their version of class warfare is to pit private-sector workers against public servants. They'd rather set average working people against one another -- comparing one group's modest incomes and benefits with another group's modest incomes and benefits -- than have Americans see that the top 1 percent is now raking in a bigger share of national income than at any time since 1928, and paying at a lower tax rate. And Republicans would rather you didn't know they want to cut taxes on the rich even more.

    Mar 07, 2011

    Dear Colleague, 

    The actions against public sector employees in Wisconsin have dominated recent news and troubled us all. As yo u consider Wisconsin's approach to its budget and fiscal crisis, I want to reiterate a few of the values that guide us here.

    Unions are good - and they can be part of the solution. Our public sector unions have demonstrated over and over again their and your willingness to work with us to build a stronger Commonwealth. From pension reform to transportation and education reform to wage concessions to help us close the budget gap, you and your union leadership have been our partners as we have tackled serious issues and made decisions that improve the Commonwealth in the long term. I am grateful for that.

    We have had our differences, naturally. But I believe in a politics that says we don't have to agree on everything before we work together on anything. As tough as our outstanding issues may be -- w hether it's "plan design" or the next phase of pension reform or consolidating state agencies -- union leadership has been and will remain at the table. Standing for workers and standing for change are compatible values.

    The attack on public sector employees and their unions is wrong for Massachusetts. As long as I have anything to say about it, we will continue to modernize our government and renew our social contract with balance and respect. We will remain focused on finding solutions. Today's needs -- and tomorrow's -- demand no less.

    Keep your chin up,
    Deval Patrick


    IAFF Takes Proactive Actions.
    Mar 01, 2011

    IAFF Launches Campaign to Fight Back
    Against Attacks on Fire Fighter Pensions and Other Benefits

    The IAFF is fighting back against politically motivated attacks on our members' pensions. On February 9, the IAFF launched a public education campaign calling out politicians like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who use first responders as scapegoats for the financial woes of the nation’s states and cities.

    In a full-page ad in the February 9 USA TODAY, and in upcoming television spots and YouTube videos, the IAFF is asking for public support for the work fire fighters and paramedics do and the benefits they’ve earned. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published this article.

    “After a Career Saving Lives, Politicians Want to Take Our Life Savings,” declares the USA TODAY ad.

    Click here to watch the video for release to the media and for IAFF affiliates to use in their own communities.

    “This is truly an unfair attack, a political attack. It’s really just a smoke screen,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger, who notes that 10 national, state and local organizations recently issued a release disputing politicized misinformation about pension solvency. “We’re adding the voice of fire fighters to the growing campaign to protect vital public services.”

    The IAFF is also publishing an
    ad in the February 10 edition of POLITICO with a message to Congress to "say no to irresponsible state bankruptcies.

    In an article posted by In These Times, Schaitberger calls for dialogue, instead of an escalating war of words.

    “In an era of revenue shortfalls and budget deficits, fire fighters have become scapegoats of mayors, governors and corporate opportunists who have grossly misrepresented the facts in the public discourse over unfunded pension liabilities,” he wrote. “What they’re not saying is that they are responsible for the unfunded liabilities,” Schaitberger continued. “They are responsible for riding the wave of pension plan investment profits and putting off making annual pension payments for years. They are responsible for creating pension payment holidays and failing to make actuarially required payments. Now their misjudgments leave them facing much larger pension bills.”

    Ultimately, the blame for the fiscal problems of local and state governments rests at the feet of Wall Street speculators who crippled the U.S. economy with what amounted to fraudulent investment schemes, Schaitberger says. And he accuses the same speculators of lining up to get their hands on fire fighter pension money.

    “We recognize that these Wall Street speculators are urging politicians to turn over our pension funds to them, in the form of riskier defined contribution retirement plans,” he says. “They have no problem risking our future if it lines their pockets.”

    Schaitberger says the IAFF will defend its members vigorously, taking the case directly to the public. “Our entire careers have been dedicated to protecting our neighbors and our neighborhoods,” he says. “We believe our neighbors will stand with us against these unfair political attacks.”

    Mar 01, 2011


    Mar 07, 2011

    Majority in Poll Opposes Weakening Bargaining Rights for Public Workers

    As labor battles erupt in state capitals around the nation, a
    majority of Americans say they oppose efforts to weaken the
    collective bargaining rights of public employee unions and
    are also against cutting the pay or benefits of public
    workers to reduce state budget deficits, according to the
    latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

    Read More:


    Memo on Evergreen Clause
    Mar 01, 2011

    An FYI from the PFFM.

    Download: Chief_Counse__Memo_2010-1.pdf

    President Jordan Responds to Transcript Article
    Mar 01, 2011

    Download: jordan letter.doc

    IAFF Helps Prevent Cuts to Firefighter Grant Programs
    Mar 01, 2011



    Grassroots Efforts Help Prevent Massive Cuts to Fire Fighter Grant Programs

    Overcoming long odds, fire fighters nationwide scored a significant victory when the U.S. House of Representatives voted 318-113 to reject massive cuts to fire fighter grants.

    The IAFF's grassroots action this week quickly mobilized as thousands of IAFF members and friends besieged the Capitol Hill Switchboard telling their representatives to vote for the Pascrell Amendment to restore funding for two important federal grant programs.

    Shortly after the vote, Politico wrote, “Given the power of the fire fighter lobby, the dike seemed to break when as many as 132 Republicans backed an amendment by Representative Pascrell (D-NJ) to restore $510 million for Homeland Security grants for first responders.”

    Under H.R. 1 -- House legislation to continue funding the federal government – the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program would have been completely eliminated, and the Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE Act) grants would have been cut by more than 20 percent.

    Recognizing the threat to fire fighter safety, Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) offered an amendment to restore funding for the two programs. The amendment passed February 16 with a large bipartisan majority.

    “This week, our nation’s fire fighters spoke with a united voice against the irresponsible cuts to public safety which were proposed in the House,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “Congress heard our message loud and clear and stood up for what was right. Today, because of the efforts of this great union and the support of 318 U.S. Representatives, funding for the SAFER program has been restored and cuts to FIRE Act grants have been reversed.”

    On February 15, President Schaitberger met with Representatives Price and Pascrell to discuss strategy for passing the bill, and immediately after, IAFF members began making calls to Capitol Hill.

    The SAFER program, originally designed to increase staffing levels, has proven to be invaluable to fire departments facing layoffs during the current economic downturn. Thousands of fire fighters have been able to return to work because of the funding.

    Despite the popularity of both the SAFER and FIRE Act programs, restoring the cuts was a difficult vote for many members of Congress. H.R. 1 was the first attempt by the new Congress to demonstrate their commitment to fiscal restraint and their willingness to cut the budget. Hundreds of amendments had been offered, and very few have mustered sufficient votes to pass. Of those which have prevailed, many cut additional funds from various programs, making passage of the Pascrell amendment to restore funds even more significant.

    “Passing the Pascrell amendment is a great victory for our nation’s fire fighters,” says Schaitberger. “However, our job is not yet complete. Congress must extend the SAFER waivers to ensure that we can stem the tide of fire fighter layoffs currently plaguing so many communities.”

    Representative David Price (D-NC) has offered an amendment restoring the SAFER waivers to allow fire departments to use grant funds to rehire or retain personnel. These waivers expired in Fiscal Year 2010. If they are not extended, fire departments will be unable to use SAFER grants to rehire laid-off fire fighters, fill positions lost to attrition or prevent potential layoffs. Additionally, departments would be required to fulfill burdensome budgetary requirements, which, in the current economy, few departments would be able to meet.

    The Price amendment will be considered later this week, after which the House will vote on final passage of H.R. 1, before sending it to the Senate for consideration. The IAFF will continue lobbying to protect the SAFER and FIRE Act programs as the process continues.



    IAFF Congressional Update
    Mar 01, 2011

    The IAFF has provided an update on related Congressional activity for our members.  Members can also watch a video from the IAFF President at www.iaff.org

    Download: Congress122210.htm

    Standing Up for Firefighters.
    Mar 01, 2011

    Standing up for America's Fire Fighters

    Ed Schultz of MSNBC defends firefighters against those who would argue that government spending cuts should including taking anything away from America's bravest public servants.

    Click for Video


    Pension FYI
    Mar 01, 2011
    Are public pensions the real problem?
    Watch this clip all the way through..... and pass it on.

    IAFF President on the Ed Show
    Mar 01, 2011



    Fighting Back Against Unfair Political Attacks

    On radio and television, General President Harold Schaitberger has discussed the IAFF’s new "Fighting Back" campaign to defend fire fighters and paramedics against politically-motivated attacks by public officials who are blaming fire fighters' wages, pensions and benefits for budget shortfalls.

    “This is an attack to try to take out America’s Labor Movement,” President Schaitberger said last week on Ed Schultz's nationally syndicated radio show. “All this is about trying to undermine the pensions, retirements and benefits that fire fighters have earned.”

    Listen to the interview here

    Last night, Schaitberger appeared on Schultz's television show on MSNBC to reiterate the message that the assaults across the country on fire fighters' retirement benefits are driven by opportunists who want to use the recession as an excuse to skewer fire fighters' pensions with little regard for the truth.

    "Attacks on fire fighters' pensions are unwarranted and unfounded," he said. "It's a myth that so many of our pension plans are in drastic condition. The fact of the matter is that over 80 percent of public pension plans are 80 percent funded or better."

    Watch the Ed Show interview here.

    The IAFF launched its campaign earlier this month with a full-page ad in USA Today, followed by an ad in Politico to warn against Newt Gingrich’s scheme to allow states to file for bankruptcy. These ads are available to IAFF affiliates to print as posters or for other uses in their own communities.

    In addition, a viral video produced by the IAFF has been viewed more than 60,000 times, and was featured on a Jacksonville, Florida news broadcast. This video is available for all IAFF affiliates to use in their local media markets.

    Some IAFF members have asked why the IAFF hasn't appeared on television networks like Fox News. The IAFF has reached out to political commentators like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly and other Fox journalists, but they have not expressed any interest in discussing this pension issue.

    In support of the IAFF, members are sending emails to political commentators like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly.

    If you'd like to see the IAFF on these shows (see below), we encourage you to send emails as well.
    Glenn Beck
    Sean Hannity
    Rush Limbaugh
    Bill O’Reilly
    Fox News Watch
    America’s Newsroom

    “We need to make sure that the public has the facts,” says Schaitberger. “We’re going to fight the battle.”

    Page Last Updated: Apr 27, 2011 (07:04:00)
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