Strength in Unity

Teamwork. It is the core of our job as firefighters, and it is also at the heart of our mission as your union. If we do not work well together on the job as a firefighting team, lives and property could be at risk. If we do not work well together as a union team, our rights, our safety, our benefits and values we all fight for will be at risk.

I’m proud to say that through President Brian Rice’s leadership we have built a strong foundation of partnership between the IAFF, specifically the 10th District, the CPF and all of our local unions.

This spirit of teamwork and partnership was on full display at this year’s IAFF 10th District Caucus and Partnership Education Program (PEP) training. This two-day event, held in Lake Tahoe, brought together hundreds of our members from our four 10th District states – California, New Mexico, Arizona & Hawaii.

On the first day, leaders from throughout the district came together to hear from IAFF leadership, including General President Harold Schaitberger. For the first time at a PEP event, exhibit space was offered to, and accepted by, CPF, allowing your state organization to show what is available to their members and affiliate leadership. CPF’s Personal Exposure Reporting, the Cal-JAC (apprenticeship) program and the California Fire Foundation all were on hand, and it was a great display of partnership.

The heart of the PEP event are the training workshops – member-to-member instruction to help build their labor union leadership skills and keep on top of events in the fire service. The Tahoe event featured dozens of workshops, covering areas ranging from communications to health and safety to politics to union administration. The bottom line is we delivered quality education and networking so locals can go back and be more effective communicating with their membership, improve their fire chief relationship, and ultimately be more successful at the bargaining table.

Partnership also means building and enhancing the connection between your International (IAFF) and state organizations. Recently, President Rice and I held the first-ever IAFF 10th District-CPF Leadership Retreat. The goal is to identify future areas of increased productivity where the IAFF and CPF’s partnership throughout the 10th District can continue to be developed for our affiliates.

This retreat, and the ongoing foundation of trust and communication the IAFF 10th District Vice-President and CPF President have built, continues to pay dividends for our membership. Whether it is being present together for inauguration of our State Constitutional leaders or working together for our members on the front lines during fires and other natural disasters, a strong partnership between IAFF and CPF contributes to the success of both organizations and helps ensure a powerful united voice and commitment together on behalf of all of our members.

Lastly, as we wrap up this CPF issue I wanted to revert us back to the basics that we are a labor union and solidarity matters. Our sisters and brothers from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) in Southern California have faced a contract negotiation battle this year. The fight centers around the need for a fair contract that dignifies their work, and the fact that one job should be enough. As in our profession, it is working people who make it all happen, and we are part of a larger partnership with these Sisters and Brothers. The IAFF has pledged to honor all picket lines in solidarity with UFCW.

Please do not cross a UFCW picket line, or any picket line, when our brothers and sisters are fighting for a fair contract and a fair shake.