What Do Your Union Dues Get for You?
Membership in the Chesterfield Professional Fire Fighters Association (IAFF Local 2803) provides you with efforts to safeguard your workplace rights and working conditions. Nearly all of the conditions, affecting your job, are directly related to decisions made by appointed and elected officials.
By engaging the department leadership, county staff and elected officials, IAFF Local 2803 stands ready to protect your health, safety, and financial well-being.
Your membership also includes representation in regional/state-wide and national affairs affecting your employment. The Virginia Professional Fire Fighters (VPFF) and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) work within the administrative and legislative bodies of state and federal government to address issues beyond the local level.
The success of these efforts is greatly dependent on the strength and unity of the Local’s membership!
Pay increases for ALS, Career Development, and Salary Compression
In 2006, ALS salary supplements were changed from a percentage to a fixed dollar amount. This corrected vast disparity among providers with long tenure versus newly approved ones. Also, in 2011, another supplement increase was enacted for both providers and preceptors. Currently, the department compensates its ALS providers at a rate very competitive with other regional departments.
ALS compensation rates:
Prior to 2006 – 5% for Intermediate and 10% for Paramedic
2006 - $2500 for Intermediate and $5000 for Paramedic
2012 – $3000 for Intermediate and $6000 for Paramedic + $2000 for ALS Preceptors
Due to longstanding practices, salary compression resulted within the department’s rank structure.
Over several years, starting salaries were increased, but without a necessary increase for incumbent employees. This practice resulted in both a morale and compensation issue.
In 2008, through engaging the department leadership and the Board of Supervisors, a significant pay increase was extended to Fire Fighters. The Board of Supervisors approved over $200,000 to address the salary compression issue. This funding resulted in most Firefighters receiving between a $1000 to $4000 raise. A lot of work still needs be done in this area and I can assure you we are going to continue to address this issue. This increase was directly related to our Local’s political action.
Update Feb. 2012 – In December 2011, the Board of Supervisors approved additional money for further implementation of the Career Development Program. This funding was a direct result of the Local’s political action and a strong labor – management relationship. Almost every Firefighter through Captain received a 4% (of base salary) increase ($1560). The Local will continue to make full funding of the Career Development Program a top priority!
Increased Retirement Multiplier from 1.75 to 1.85
Through the efforts of the VPFFF, public safety officers became eligible for an increased retirement multiplier. The increased multiplier reflects the reduced career span of public safety officers versus civilian workers. The current multiplier is set at 1.85. Chesterfield County is one of a few localities offering this option for its fire department employees. To determine the difference in the multipliers, go to myvrs.com and calculate the values in your retirement estimator.
Retirement change 5 for 5
In 2012, the Virginia General Assembly changed the way your pension is funded. Prior to 2012, localities funded all contributions on your behalf. In an effort to reduce the systems’ unfunded obligations, the General Assembly mandated local employees pay 5% of their salary into VRS. The original legislation called for no salary offset; similar to a 2011 deal extended to state employees.
This action would have given localities the ability to reduce their budgets at the employee’s expense. The VPFF and several other employee groups were able to effectively lobby against this attack on your benefits. The final legislation required localities provide a 5% salary increase against the required 5% contribution. The Chesterfield Board of Supervisors approved this change and approved additional money (.72%), so employees would not see a difference in take home pay.
While this action results in a long-term pay decrease and does nothing to increase the solvency of VRS, the VPFF was able to minimize the effects on your take home pay.
At the end of FY 2013, the Department started detailing the 4th firefighter assigned to Engines 2, 9, 12 and 24 to reduce overtime cost. This plan was going to be continued for FY 2014 and reduce on-duty strength from 111 to 107. Due our positive Labor – Management relationship, these positions were restored in the FY 2014 budget and staffing levels remain at 111 daily.
$10,000 Life Insurance Policy
Members are provided with a $10,000 accidental death insurance policy. This policy is funded through your dues. In a time of loss and tragedy, this protection affords families to meet short-term financial needs. This policy is self-funded and does not involve an insurance carrier. Through this structure, the local is able to provide payout in a very short time frame.
Representation in the Grievance and Workers’ Compensation Processes
Grievance Process –The grievance process is your primary remedy for resolving workplace issues. At times, members are not treated fairly, and in turn, they must seek a remedy to a disciplinary outcome, misapplication of policy (etc.). The process often involves the department leadership, county administration, and attorneys.
I believe Fire and County Administration will do a lot to avoid this process; however, conditions often mandate that the full grievance process is used. If you have to go through this process without the support of the Local, you may face defending yourself against a skilled attorney(s) and/or amassing significant legal fees.
Observer Presence During Formal Investigation – The ability to place an observer in a formal questioning setting is of great benefit to both the member and department. By having the Local President attend interrogations, it is assists in making sure the member is treated fairly and in a consistent manner.
Heart Lung and Cancer Presumption Claims – The harmful health effects of firefighting are well documented. The harmful effects often produce career and life threatening health problems. Virginia’s Heart/Lung and Cancer Presumption law provides affected members with payment of related health expenses and disability retirement. Virginia is one of only 24 states employing these laws. These protections are a direct result of the political action efforts of the IAFF and VPFF.
We have had several of both of these claims and have had successful outcomes for our members (Rodger Hicks, Joe Newsome, Max Brougham, and Barry Matthews) to name a few.
Documenting, filing, and pursuing these claims are costly and difficult. If you have to file a claim without the assistance of the Local, it could cost you several thousands of dollars in legal fees. Without legal and technical assistance, the process will prove to be extremely burdensome on you or your family.
Workers’ Compensation – Local members are afforded representation from the Executive Board and legal counsel. Navigating workers compensation issues can also be very confusing and costly.
Please Remember: filing a worker’s compensation claim is solely the responsibility of the employee. If you do not file a claim with the Workers Comp Commission you do not have a claim. You have two years from the time the injury occurs to file the claim.
Changing EMS Regulations
In 2004, the Office of EMS instituted a regulation that mandated DUI convictions result in the loss of the ability to operate an OEMS-licensed vehicle. If a firefighter was convicted (on duty or off duty) of a DUI or had to complete court-ordered ASAP training, they could not drive an EMS licensed vehicle for 5 years. This placed your career in the hands of the Office of EMS; not with your employer. From the inception of this regulation, the VPFF worked to have it changed.
In 2012, some the OEM’S ability to determine your employment status changed. Now, an on-duty DUI results in a lifetime ban from operating an OEMS-licensed vehicle and OEMS no longer has influence over off-duty occurrences. This change is a direct result of the VPFF’s political action and representation in EMS issues.
Representation at the State & National level on issues related to our Profession
This is a list of just a few issues that are dealt with at the state and federal levels:
· FLSA and pay protections
· Heart Lung Bill and Cancer presumption
· Line of Duty Act
· Re-authorization of the Ryan White Act
· Right to Collective Bargaining (Meet and Confer)
· Federal PSOB
· Ensuring funding for SAFER grants
Political Action at the local level
Local 2803 works on your behalf by addressing issues that directly affect your working conditions and benefits. It is imperative that we have sufficient funds to engage in political action and support candidates, for the Board of Supervisors and VA General Assembly, who are willing to address and support issues that are important to our members. This could not be a more important issue due to our current economic state.
Input that led to the hiring to the Departments first outside Fire Chief
The Local played a very important role in this process in order to ensure it was a fair and unbiased process.
Establishment of the Chesterfield Professional Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation and Old Dominion Fire Fighters Burn Foundation
The local’s leadership and membership was instrumental in starting both of these non-profit organizations. These organizations have the ability to assist our members who may experience unforeseen injury or personal needs.
Discounted Rates for AFLAC Supplemental Insurance
AFLAC is giving members of the Local discounted rates on the supplemental insurance plans.
Annual Union Banquet (Casino Night)
Our Casino Night is free of charge to our member, the only other Local in the area that has a Banquet charges there members $75.00 to attend.
Richmond Region Dues Structures:
Henrico Co. – $30.00
Caroline Co. – $38.00
Petersburg – $20.40
Richmond – will find out
Chesterfield – $30.00
Hanover Co. – $34.00
Colonial Heights – $32.00
Where your $30.00 a month goes
$ 12.48 goes to the IAFF per capita
$ 4.12 goes to the VPFF per capita
$ 2.00 goes to Life Insurance policy
$ 11.40 stays in Local 2803
These ongoing issues will continue to be the focus of our efforts:
- Lobbying the General Assembly to fully fund its VRS obligations
- Monitor implementation of a new hybrid retirement plan which will ultimately weaken VRS and may lead to reduced benefits in the future
- Fight reductions in the retirement multiplier, increasing the Average Final Compensation to 5 years from present 3 years, and reducing retirement COLA’s
- Fight placing Line of Duty Act benefit administration and funding in the hands of localities. This is extremely dangerous! It would allow localities to investigate claims, whereas, current claims are impartially investigated by the Virginia State Police. Also, it burdens local budgets with payouts that are the responsibility of the state government. LODA benefits are paid heart/lung disability, full injury disability, and line of duty death occurrences.
This is a list of some of the things that the Local is working on to improve your working conditions and benefits. If there is something the Local is not addressing or working on that you feel we should be working on, please contact a member of the Executive Board. I hope this will help illustrate that you do get a lot of return on your $30.00 a month.
Chesterfield Professional Firefighters Association