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IAFF District 16 Online

Our Mission

To promote the health, safety, and welfare of the Federal Firefighters within the International Association
of Fire Fighters (IAFF)

Memo to Army Secretary on Reductions 

HR 1363 Federal Fire Fighter Trade Time has been introduced in the House. 

S-29 the Fair Retire Act 

Federal Fire Fighter Cancer and Disease Registry   

Legislative Outlook.  As we have all seen the 115th Congress is in session and there are already some disturbing legislative measures impacting federal employees.  First, information is already rolling around that some Congressional members will make attempts to end official time for union representatives in the federal sector.  There is also information that some members of Congress will support ending pay roll dues deductions through the federal pay system.  Legislation is also being discussed that will impact retirement by increasing employee contributions.  Obviously, we and the other unions representing federal employees will fight these types of measures, but the reality is that if the issues gain momentum and support on the Hill they may become a reality, especially recognizing the current political makeup of the House and Senate.  The last thing anyone wants is having to defend what we have when we should be utilizing our resources to make advancements. Although the IAFF will strive to reintroduce previous legislation from the 114th Congress the fact remains that much effort will have to be devoted to maintaining current benefits and the prospect of enhancing federal fire retirement or passing worker protection packages such as presumptive illness measures is bleak at best.  The IAFF Legislative Conference is scheduled for March 4-7, 2018 in Washington D.C. at the Hyatt Regency.

Arbitration.  Some of our arbitration decisions have been posted on the website There are also some examples of post hearing briefs.

Contract Negotiations.   Is your contract expired?  Probably not.  Most of the agreements (collective bargaining agreements) have provisions for a rollover (usually in the Duration Article).  This means that once the original contract period expires the agreement begins an annual rollover.  In such cases the contract automatically rolls over (continues) unless either party proposes to renegotiate the agreement.  Most agreements also have specific parameters for when either party can propose to renegotiate the agreement.  These parameters are usually also contained in the "duration" portion of the agreement.  Usually there are specific time frames for opening the agreement and proposing to open the agreement outside of theses time frames violates the agreement.  If the employer is telling the union that the agreement is no longer valid or is outdated carefully review the parameters of the agreement.  Most likely you will find that the employers allegations are unfounded. 

Is your contract outdated?  Again, probably not.  The Civil Service Act and 5 USC Chapter 71 set the parameters for bargaining in the federal sector.  Federal bargaining parameters are limited in scope when compared to other sectors.  Such items as pay and benefits are for the most part not negotiable.  Therefore many of the items negotiated in federal sector agreements are procedural and policy matters or matters regarding appropriate arrangements when the employer is exercising one of their management rights under the Statute, and union representational rights provided for by the Statute.  One of the best signs of an effective working contract in the federal sector is an agreement that has been in place many years and worked well for both parties.  Federal policies and procedures rarely change but on occasion there is a need to update some items in an agreement to ensure they reflect current laws.  However, renegotiating an agreement simply because it was executed many years ago is not necessary.  Agreements should be carefully evaluated to determine if a need exists to renegotiate.

The negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in the federal sector can be impacted by the political environment.  How?  Elections determine which party will be making appointments to federal agencies that have oversight over negotiation impasses and negotiability appeals processes that can be necessary to resolve bargaining issues.  The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) and Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) are both lead by political appointees.  When these agencies are led by people that have ideologies that are not unbiased or are more supportive of managements rights we often see our ability to bargain hampered.  I suggest Locals seriously consider their needs and the possible outcome if they are planning to renegotiate their CBA in the near future.  You may want to consider delaying any CBA renegotiations unless there is a dire need until we have time to evaluate the bargaining environment that will be created over the next year.

Some of our Arbitration Decisions

Arbitration post hearing Brief examples

Preparing a brief can be complicated here are some examples. 


16th District Twitter  The 16th District provides Twitter updates. Any opinions are my own. 

Upcoming Events

Affiliate Leadership Training Summit (ALTS) & Human Relations January 28-31, 2018 

Legislative Conference March 5-8, 2017,  Washington, DC 

District 16 & Federal Fire Fighter Joint Council Training May 2018, Atlanta (tenative)

Message to the Members of the IAFF (March 2016)

I think everyone within the IAFF leadership from the Local level up realizes that there are politics involved in the IAFF at every level.  Any democratic organization endures the necessity of politics.  That said, we all also have an obligation to our elected offices that require a balance and the adherence to the principles of our office.   A person fails their obligation when they pursue political goals in lieu of their obligation.

Although there are some that would choose to criticize the IAFF Executive Board, in the many years I have been fortunate enough to be a member of the Board I have watched the IAFF continue to grow and become a respected Union in an environment where other Union's suffer.   Trade Union membership in the U.S. continues to decrease while the IAFF's membership grows.  The IAFF supports Locals though various programs that have also expanded over the years such as our Guardian Program and at our last Convention the members adopted the Justice Program to provide wage income for local leaders that are disciplined or fired for union activities.

That said, as I mentioned politics always come into play.  Whether for personal or professional reasons anyone in an elected office is vulnerable to allegations of impropriety or simple character assassination by those seeking gain or retribution.  All one has to do is view the current environment surrounding the current Presidential nominations to see an example of this happening. This is often accomplished by twisting the facts and mischaracterizing the truth and weaving a tale that leaves the reader or listener with one possible conclusion, that of the story teller. This then becomes the "elephant in the room" that in our case the story teller suggests is an "obvious truth" the Board cannot see or chooses to ignore.    

Although some have questioned the Executive Board's resolve, it is important to point out that such opinions are from a minority that are motivated by political gain or the simple dislike of certain Officers.  More appropriate forums are available such as addressing the Board and the Members directly at Convention, addressing the Board at the open Board meetings held several times a year or utilizing the provisions of our By-Laws, or through many other venues.  But some prefer not to step up and would rather create discourse by hiding behind a keyboard and spewing character assassinations and publicly undermining the good name of the IAFF.

I cannot speak for the entire Board, but I see nothing wrong with constructive criticism.  I believe it is actually a necessity and beneficial when offered or presented in the right manner.  Aristotle said that there is only one way to avoid criticism, "do nothing, say nothing and be nothing".  For IAFF members or Officers however to publicly undermine the good name of the IAFF or disregard their duty to the IAFF or their Oath as a whole is in fact an attack on all the Members and the organization as a whole.

 Article XV of the IAFF's By-Laws covers misconduct and penalties.  Section C. of the Article provides that the following is misconduct:

"Libeling or slandering or causing to be libeled or slandered any officer or member of the Association or of any local union or other subordinate body thereof, except in the form of charges of misconduct properly filed against an officer or member as provided by this Constitution and By-Laws."

Section J. Provides that it is misconduct for:

"Engaging in conduct detrimental to the best interests of the Association or its subordinate unions which places or tends to place them in disrepute with other labor organizations, employers, or the public."

The IAFF Officer's Oath of Office is as follows:

"I pledge my honor to perform the duties of my office in compliance with the Constitution and By-Laws of the International Association of Fire Fighters and this local union. All properties and records of this union will be turned over to my successor in office at the close of my official term. I will dutifully abide by and promote the positions taken by the majority. I will dedicate my talents and energies to represent the mandates and directives of this union. I will use my good office to promote unity and harmony - all of which I solemnly promise and swear to keep to the best of my ability."

Clearly the Oath of Office and the By-Laws provisions regarding misconduct are there for a reason and any failure on our part as either a Board Member or a Local Affiliate Leader to adhere to these will cause individuals or the organization to falter and become a victim of political and personal discourse.  We have now witnessed this.

I realize that some of the 300,000 IAFF Members may know very little about me as I represent one of the smaller Districts dealing with Federal issues.  But allow me to say this.  As an eight-year Veteran of Military Service, nearly 20 years as a Federal Fire Fighter and 13 years on the IAFF Board I place a lot of value in an Oath of Office.  I believe when one takes an oath they should strive with every effort adhere to it.  I believe when a person surreptitiously contributes or promotes the destruction of the organization or its leaders they walk in a minefield that can lead to the destruction of their own character and their own good name.  This too we have seen. Being an elected IAFF Executive Board member is not a trivial matter.

I am sure some have seen a recent video that a former Board Member has posted after resigning from his position.  Upon his resignation the individual admitted in writing that he violated the IAFF Constitution and By-Laws.  The resignation was not forced as portrayed.  The facts were presented, discussion held and yes suggestions were made to the Board Member.  But it was several days later before the resignation actually occurred.  The Board did not corner anyone or threaten to take away any benefits or retirement eligibility. Once again we see the weaving of a tale that leaves the reader or listener with one possible conclusion, that of the story teller. 

Most already know this but just for clarity, contrary to what some purport the Executive Board is not suffering from Ostrich syndrome.  Many of us choose not to engage in public blogs containing twisted facts and untruths weaved into a single plausible outcome.  Injecting ourselves into such rhetoric would be ludicrous and only benefit those weaving their tale.   I know that I, and I believe other members of the Board do support open discussion and debate and I believe members should present any concerns that they have about the organization and its leaders to the Board and the Membership directly though the proper venues.   The IAFF has proper processes for the Officers and Members to address concerns.  These should be preferred by all rather than the "biased court" of the internet and the "trickery" of distorting some facts in order to provoke and cause discord.


James B. Johnson

IAFF 16th District








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