Last night at the Union Meeting, I was able to pick Mike Hanks’ brain about collective bargaining. Ever since the Collective Bargaining Bill passed the House vote with such a strong vote, you guys have been hammering me with questions. I have tried my best to answer the questions, and now I have the answers you all were looking for.

Dave Statter found this article on Collective Bargaining and how it will effect Virginia:
Va. Has Big Stake in Bill on Public Safety Unions

Q – When will the Senate vote on the Federal Collective Bargaining for Public Safety?
A – The supporters of the Bill are waiting to get two more sponsors on hand before they vote on it. Once they get two more sponsors they will move it to the floor of the Senate for a vote. The reason they are waiting for two more is because then it will be veto-proof and President Bush will not be able to veto the Bill. The general consensus is that Bush will veto the Bill if able to.

Q – What does the Bill mean for the firefighters in Roanoke and in the rest of the State?
A – When the Bill passes, we will be allowed to negotiate a contract with our locality. The contract will be negotiated and signed by Local 1132 (the firefighters representation) and the City. If the contract is unable to be negotiated, Certified Arbitrators will be brought in and decide on the issues hampering negotiation and make a decision.

Q – What will be included in the contract?
A – Everything from salaries to what color shirts, POP’s to retirement, rules and regulations to vacation and holiday. Every detail of our jobs will be dissected, analyzed, and written down in the contract how we want…and then we negotiate.

Q – Once the Bill is passed, how long do we have to wait?
A – We just have to sit down and draw up a contract. With help of the IAFF, and Attorneys of course.

Q – Who will write up the contract?
A – A committee within Local 1132, legal counsel, and more than likely an IAFF representative, as well as whoever we deem necessary to be involved in the formulation of our contract.

Q – What about Virginia being a right to work State?
A – What about it? Federal Law supersedes State Law! The only real effect the Right-to-Work issue will have is that the SCABS who are not in the Local will reap the same benefits of the Contract.

Q – Will this be expensive?
A – Probably, but it will pay off.

Q – How long will the contract be good for?
A – It depends on what the contract says. Most contracts are effective for 3-5 years.

Q – Will the Police and Sheriffs have the same contract?
A – They will negotiate their own contract.

Q – Who can I thank for all the hard work that has been put into getting this Bill to a majority vote in the House and Senate?
A – The International Association of Fire Fighters, and other organizations/lobbyists who represent Public Safety.

If you have any other questions, leave a comment.

By far the most important issue to most of my brother and sister firefighters is the collective bargaining bill that just passed through the House with tremendous support. In case you were wondering who didn’t support it look here.

The IAFF has been placing an enormous amount of resources towards getting this Bill passed in both the House and the Senate. The goal is to get enough sponsors to make the vote veto proof. You can follow along on the IAFF website here.

Some of you guys have asked what the Bill actually will afford us. The answer is this: The bills establish minimum standards for state collective bargaining laws. I am sure there will be issue with how different sides of the fence interpret the standards.

The video below sums up the testimony from several proponents of the Bill.

Here is another one

The IAFF’s top legislative priority, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007 — which guarantees collective bargaining rights for every fire fighter in the nation — has overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill, HR 980, won the support of a majority of the Repiblicans and Democrats in Congress, passing by a margin of 314-97.

“For more than 50 years, the IAFF has battled to guarantee every professional fire fighter the right to collectively bargain,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “This is just the first step, but it’s truly an historic moment for our union.

HR 980 assures four basic rights: the right to organize and form a union and be recognized as the exclusive representative for employees within a specific fire department; the right to bargain with respective public employers over wages and other terms and conditions of employment; the right to have a neutral third party assist in mediating any disputed issues; and the right to reduce negotiated agreements into binding, legally enforceable contracts.

Thanks to the IAFF’s aggressive grassroots efforts, HR 980 garnered 280 cosponsors, including 70 Republicans. Only 12 of the more than 2,900 bills introduced in this Congress have attained a congressional majority – 218 members – as cosponsors. “Clearly, our grassroots operation — the calls from our members in the field — succeeded in elevating this issue and generating support across all parties in the House,” Schaitberger notes.

The IAFF will now focus its efforts in the Senate and, ultimately, on lobbying the president to sign the bill into law when it reaches his desk.

For more information on HR 980, click here.

Hey guys, several of you have asked about the Republican candidates this year. It seems as though the loudest heard are the ones who simply want the IAFF to endorse a Republican. I think it is funny because I personally don’t care about what party they are in but rather their views on certain issues. You are entitled to your opinions, as am I.

What I am getting at is that the Republican front runner is Rudy Guiliani. Rudy has a sordid past with the IAFF and its members. There is a website set up to inform about the issues that have created this animosity between Rudy and IAFF members. Visit the website:

I don’t know who the IAFF will endorse, however I can pretty much guarantee it will be one of the front running Democrats. The Republicans don’t seem to have much to offer right now.

While I am at it, you can view more info on the Collective Bargaining Bill here.

House Panel Approves IAFF Bargaining Bill

June 20, 2007 — Years of hard work by IAFF members across the country has paid off with the June 20 House Committee vote of 42 to 1 to guarantee collective bargaining rights for every fire fighter in the nation. The vote sends HR 980, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, to the full House of Representatives.

Read More over at and don’t forget to register while you are their as a new user. We recently updated the site adding a members only area. The site is still under construction.


Fire fighters and police officers risk their lives every day to protect the public; they deserve the same right to discuss workplace issues with their employer that the federal government grants to most other workers.

Legislation granting fire fighters and police officers minimum collective bargaining rights was recently introduced in the House by Representatives Dale Kildee (D-MI) and John Duncan (R-TN) as H.R. 980, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, and will soon be reintroduced in the Senate by Senators Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA). The bills establish minimum standards for state collective bargaining laws.

Read More about this issue

The IAFF has made this issue its top priority. Be sure to follow along with the progress and contact your Senator and/or Representative to let them know you are interested in this issue. If you go to the new RFFA Local 1132 website, there is an area at the top for you to find your Senator/Representative. There is also a link on the IAFF page linked to above.

Hey guys,

You guys want to know what is up with the Collective Bargaining bill that is collecting steam on the Federal Level? Well here is some footage of Kevin O’Conner from the IAFF at a committee meeting in D.C. Check it out and see what is going on.

The information came from:
Will Johnston
Committee on Education and Labor
U.S. House of Representatives

Thanks for the information Will. Check here for more footage on their Youtube page.

I don’t think that you guys can view these videos at work, however be sure to check them out when you get a chance.

Here is an interesting video on Collective Bargaining in West Virginia. The video opens with comments by Lisa Dooley, Executive Director of West Virginia’s Municipal League. I will be civil and not pick apart her comments like the NO-STRIKE clause offers little comfort for firefighters not striking. COME ON LADY, GET A LIFE. If anything, you guys have a harder time telling us to go home. Just look at any major catastrophe and you will find many firefighters who ended up not getting full compensation for their work. But I don’t expect you to understand Lisa, because you aren’t one of us. But that is all, I won’t pick apart the rest.

I met Brian Jones at the IAFF Legislative Conference, he is the WVA Professional Fire Fighters President. We had some small talk with a couple of the other guys from VA and WVA.

I will shut up now. Watch the video.
For those of you on Roanoke City Computers, I believe is blocked, so check it out at home.

Here is part II
Bear with me here. I need to weight in on some recent news.

Roanoke City Manager Darlene Burcham has acknowledged that compensation for city employees lags behind comparable cities in Virginia. But she has cited lower costs of living in the Roanoke region and previous efforts to recruit and retain police officers as factors influencing the pay and benefits offered by the city to law enforcement officers.

Taken from 404 Not Found Blog on The Roanoke Times website (includes a video).

I see one major problem with the statement mentioned in the above blog by the City Manager. “compensation for city employees lags behind comparable cities in Virginia. But she has cited lower costs of living” I thought that the cost of living index was used to compare cities. Therefore if the compensation lags comparable cities in Virginia, the lower costs of living would have already been factored in. We still lag behind.

Now on to the issue of Pay Parity among Roanoke’s Public Safety

“The starting salary for a city police officer is $31,213, which is less than that of some smaller departments in the area, such as the Roanoke County Police Department, where officers start at $31,825. But ever since December 2004, city officers have been getting bumped up to $34,802 after their first 18 months.”

Taken from Police stage protest over pay on the Roanoke Times.

The Police Department is already above the Fire Department. Our Firefighters don’t get that bump in pay grade after the 18 months. On top of that, the Officers receive the coveted career enhancement pay that the Firefighters have sought for many years. This means that Officers who are FTO’s, K-9, Tactical Team Members, College Graduates, etc. receive an extra percentage on top of their base pay, compounded during raises.

We have guys hired by the Fire Department made to be EMT’s over 15 years ago and they only get $100 a month, not compounded, not factored on any raise, never been reassessed in 15+ years.

Is there pay parity? There has certainly been give and take as far as various public safety departments receiving raises and other departments piggy backing on each other. This process has worked out pretty good in the past considering the pay and benefit obstacles we face in Roanoke.

I have no issue with the Roanoke Police staging a “protest” to wake the city up to the issues facing their department. I think that they got the attention they were looking for.

However, I am not so sure I would have jumped so quick to picket as they did, which has only occurred a handful of times in the last 50 years between the Police and Fire Departments. Actually, I would have gone straight to City Council to sell my ideals and have them force the City Managers hand to prioritize. I like using the analogy of the trash cans downtown. Have you ever looked at those things, man they are nice. I bet the City spent a small fortune on them, only to come back and install custom cut logos on them made only by “Twists and Turns”, not the cheapest place in town. Prioritize I tell you. You could have stuck a $2 sticker on those damn things, they weren’t going anywhere.

I have the utmost respect for Police Officers as I do for all of Public Safety, especially Roanoke’s Finest and Bravest. I have no doubt that the Police Officers deserve the same 9% the entire City is behind in pay including more, as do we.

Danville just had an independent study completed and found out that their employees were 8% behind. So their “Elected Council” decided to give them 4% for the next two years. Hell that equals 8% right. Wrong. When you are 8% behind, you have to give them the 8% and whatever the increase is for that year just to catch up. Every year you neglect proper pay, the farther the employees fall into the abyss.

What happens then? Employees leave for better pay, better benefits, different jobs to be treated properly, morale tanks, people begin to not care as much, etc.

I have news for you, these things are happening. Ever since I have been here in Roanoke I have witnessed an ever tightening collar put on the Firefighters. A once well oiled machine has become a feeding frenzy with an “every man for himself” mentality. The Good Ole’ Boy network of long ago has reemerged with a dangerous cut throat attitude which is a product of needless micro management. Those who refuse to get wrapped up in this tornado are the ones who will walk away with their dignity.

Most of us have stuck with it, some have jumped ship giving up the job they love for ethical reasons, others have left to take the free fire/EMS education to other departments to make more money, and yet there are many Firefighters hoping that they will not lose their jobs due to loosely written policies backing an agenda which was written on a restaurant napkin and put into place for lack of care for a real solution to problems most departments have long put behind them.

Why do you think every ten or so years we get a big raise. Because we aren’t getting the raises we deserve annually during those 10 years. Think about the money that the City saves doing business like that. Now think about how that effects retirees each year the City holds off correcting the pay issues. That could mean the difference in $100′s of dollars a month, which means a lot to a retiring Firefighter who walks with 50% of the average of the last 3 years only after 25 years and reaching the rule of 70 (age + years of service = 70).

OK, enough about that. Now onto another topic today. Sheriff Johnson has been giving her Deputies their birthday off for the past 9 months for free, at no expense to the Deputy. Today she asked permission to do it. In my department, for those of us on the new pay plan there are two types of time off (uninjured); Paid Leave and Holiday, everything else is Absent WithOut Pay (AWOP).


I was sitting there watching the City Council meeting waiting for the magic question “Why are you bringing this up now?” which Councilwoman Mason finally asked. Johnson’s answer was something about how Human Resources had called her about it asking questions.

I have witnessed a lot of issues which I felt that the City was taking liberties interpreting the laws, policies, and regulations on the Local, State, and Federal stage. It seems as though you have to dig deep in your pockets just to call them on the issues and get a straight forward answer from the Courts to rectify the situation. Yet we have an Elected Official handing out free days off.

The City Lawyer stated that the Deputies already get more Holidays than most City workers because they get the State Holidays which the City doesn’t recognize. When asked what the days off cost, Johnson didn’t have an answer. However, she did state that the estimated cost of the remaining 59 Deputies to receive the free day off at $10,000. Therefore, using Fleitz math and the fact that there are around 240 deputies I believe, the total cost is around $40,000. Take it out of her check, you would if it were me.

When asked, the City Manager stated that if they get it everyone will want it. CORRECT. Sign me up. Who the hell wouldn’t want it.

Now for the other side of the coin.

The reason why Sheriff Johnson sited for giving the birthday off was for the low morale in the department. Kudos to Sheriff Johnson for trying to make a difference.

Not that our Chief hasn’t tried get us some extra benefits we deserve to increase morale. Remember the Career Enhancement pay I was talking about earlier. Our Chief has put in for it for several years, only to see it removed from the budget each year. The cost estimated at a mere $128,000. I think nearly a third of that was without permission over at the Sheriff’s Department. Again, the Police Officers get it.

Maybe we should start asking for forgiveness as well, it seems to be easier than asking for permission.

11 candidates spoke to the IAFF members at the 2008 Presidential Forum. I would like to point you in the right direction for information on the event and the candidates. I decided to leave my comments on each of the candidates off of the blog for now so that the IAFF Local 1132 members can decide for themselves and not feel that our Local or the IAFF is swaying one way or another. The IAFF will not likely make an endorsement for some time and it should reflect the view of the majority of IAFF members.

I suggest you look closely at the information and watch the videos. Jonathan Martin dissects some of the candidates on his blog The Politico, although he did not see the entire forum and speaks mostly on the Democrats.

The IAFF have done the searching for you on News articles on the Presidential Forum. Visit to view links to many of the articles. There are many links to articles which offer Democrat and Republican views.

You can watch the videos of all the candidates individually. If you have ever wondered what these candidates think about Firefighters issues you need to check them out. If you would like to know more about what went on let me know.

IAFF General President Harold A. Schaitberger

This is what it looked like from my seat on the front row just off to the left. It was like a feeding frenzy for the photographers.

Former U.S. Senator John Edwards (D-NC)

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore (R-VA)

U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) with Duane Dixon

U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) with our President Rodney Jordan

U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA)

U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY)

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE)

U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT)

U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS)

Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM)

U.S. Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) with Duane Dixon

Members of Local 1132 are attending the VPFF Legislative Conference in Richmond to learn about current Legislation and follow up by Lobbying for that Legislation.

Visit Local 1132 Online for information, or go directly to the VPFF website for up to date information.

Follow the Bills on the VPFF website.

Here is an interesting site to follow the bills, it was developed by Waldo Jaquith who is a popular political blogger. The site is

Merry Christmas to all the Roanoke Fire Blog readers. The Fleitz Family is in Nashville for Christmas this year. The Blog will be on a little bit of a break.

Below is the beginning of a post I was working on the other day. I did not have time to finish it, however I thought that posting the legislative link might afford you the opportunity to learn about the up coming legislation.

In January, representatives from Locals across Virginia will be meeting in Richmond to learn about legislation affecting our jobs and benefits. Once the legislation is understood, the firefighters head to the General Assembly to meet with their respective Congressman and Representatives and lobby for the bills we want and against the ones we don’t. That is a brief synopsis of what goes on during the Legislative Conference. It is a learning experience each year. Luckily, for the Virginia Firefighters we have Art Lipscomb and Robbie Bragg III who head up our Legislative Committee. Click for Link