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FDIC 2010: Harold A. Schaitberger

Sun, 25 Apr 2010|

IAFF General President Harold A. Schaitberger speaks at the Opening Ceremony of FDIC 2010.

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Transcript

These on the monitor this morning -- of -- tremendous privilege to introduce a long time leader a long time innovator and a long time friend. Not only to FDIC and fire engineering. But a friend every firefighter number. He spent a lifetime tirelessly striving to try to improve -- -- working conditions. Our compensation. And our welfare. General presidential expert is that ninth president of the idea. He has served as a general president since 2000. Is a former Fairfax county Virginia firefighter. And in 1976 he created the unions political and legislative programs. He's on the AFL CIO executive committee and is the vice president of the AFL CIO executive council. He's the chairman of the board of trustees for the idea that burn foundation is a board member of the -- of the fallen firefighters memorial. It's one of the greatest pleasures of my life having the opportunity to know him and it's tremendous pleasure to welcome him back home again FDIC. Brothers and sisters ladies and gentlemen please help me in welcoming our friend the -- general president. Harold Shakespeare. Thank you very much -- Good morning to everyone. Let me Bobbie first of all thank you for the opportunity and invitation to again have. A few moments this morning to address some of the very best. Across two great countries. The women and men that wear the uniform of our business firefighters. -- medical service workers paramedics. Those on the front line every day. And I appreciate. Bobbie the work of this great conference. The FDIC. And the instruction in the education. That's brought forward. So that our own can not learned how to not only do their jobs more effectively but. Hopefully how to do their job. Or safely and go home to their families after they pulled their -- I also want to make sure that I acknowledge. My great leadership. That's here with me this morning. I'd like to. Thank points -- the president of Indianapolis local 416. Or. It's friendship leadership -- thank you so much -- doing a great job for us. And I know -- state presidents -- Hannity is at meetings this morning or. Probably the real truth is that he just doesn't -- to have to listen to another one of my remarks. But. Tom's doing and fantastic job for all of our affiliates and our members across this great state of Indiana. And to my a friend of almost forty years. -- on the -- Indianapolis fire department 1968. After pulling two tours in Vietnam for his country. -- 24 years as a member. 46 -- executive board. When he five years of running. Our State Council here in Indiana but -- the interest of our members. And the last ten years. -- international vice president for the eighth district. Largest district in our international was 730. Locals who. Just a couple of months ago has now risen and has become after the retirement. -- bowl and our general secretary treasure. Our new general secretary treasurer and I am so proud he's my friend he's my brother. And we are blessed to have him about as our new GST Tommie Miller. -- and my brother. Well I'm gonna ask this I mean I'm just curious let me see a show -- hands I'd like to see. Just how many. Of this I AF theft might be in this room this morning knowing this is a broad broad. Fire service meetings and -- bit how many guys have members we have out there. All right well sisters and Brothers. The great to see you. So the fight starts -- you know we'll know. -- to back each other up. Let me. Let me just start by saying that were really meeting today. In your meeting this week. At a pretty difficult time in our country. These economic. Times and crisis and we've all been experiencing. Of this last 22 months. Has really. Put our country in jeopardy. Certainly exposed our communities. That's certainly been more than just some challenging times for our profession. So I thought -- my remarks this morning hopefully. Are what I liked it normally be noted for maybe. Not terribly eloquent. I do like to be frank. At least from my perspective. Have a frank conversation this morning with you. We need to talk about the impact of this brutal recession on. Our ability to deliver our services. And there's a lot of us that have been around during. Tough economic times I remember the seventies. Some of you might have been around long enough to remember that recession. Of the pretty tough point. Remember when 16100 firefighters were laid off in New York City. -- my own chief of staff. The dorm. And I remember -- sessions early eighties. Early -- pretty tough time for all of us. In the ninety's. In the economic downturn. Following them horrific. Attacks on September 11 2001. But this has been a time unlike any thing this country -- experienced. Of the Great Depression. We're talking about not only -- an economy that collapse but the financial market. They crash. And foreclosures in the millions were not only personal tragedies but. Certainly undermine the economic well being and of our state community governments. While placing so many of you in more jeopardy with vacant buildings. Too many of them lighting up. Unforeseen tax revenues they go lower and lower meaning less funds. To help. Insured resource. The business that we're all of that. And the banking system frozen may not affect some of us personally in some ways but it affected all of us. An important way by. Running small business out of business. Less jobs. Less revenues. -- unemployment. Reached an incredible level of fifteen million workers in this country out of work. Almost eight million in just the last when he month. Now this is pretty difficult time -- -- -- so we need talk about the impact of this. Brutal recession on our members and on their lives. And on their livelihoods we need to talk about how we respond to the challenges that we face. And I can tell you that they are many as I traveled this country from coast to coast. And although that are. Incredible members all across Canada. Thank god or not quite experienced seen yet and hopefully will not -- Economic crisis that we have. Below the forty ninth parallel. On those border cities they too -- beginning to feel. Some of the pain. And I've been -- Cities from gulf to the northern borders and beyond and one thing has really been clear to me. It's open season on firefighters and paramedics everywhere. If you don't believe me just ask -- my members and Nevada from Clark County. North Las Vegas to Reno. And everywhere in between. -- I just left. If you don't believe me just ask my members. And Oklahoma. Ask them and you taught California Florida Massachusetts and Idaho. As the firefighters and those it. All the IFF -- Lorraine Warren Ohio in Flint, Michigan and Baltimore and Philadelphia. And ask them right here in Indiana from Muncie Gary Anderson. They'll tell you it's open season on the men and women are proud for -- that are on the front lines every day. Throughout our -- members. Our members have always had their admiration. You know your reputation in and the general public arena. Reputation. Has been held high. When -- the public -- always said. You're the most trusted workforce. Simply put it wasn't that long ago that firefighters were everybody's friends. Was that long ago that those who jump those rigs every day. We're quite frankly the darlings of the communities. Politicians every 11 of their photo taken with them. And they could do no wrong. We had some political support from all corners. This you you know viruses bipartisan we have a membership. Better Republican Democrat and independent. Membership it's moderate. Conservative. Some progressive. And we. Have a membership. It understands that those politicians believed -- -- they believe that our mission. And in some ways they may have felt they had no other choice. Now. They're ready to openly take a sought. And certainly had no surprise to us in this business that a heightened sorts of this goodwill in recognition of what -- -- experiencing for decades. Quite frankly. Skyrocketed. Following that horrific day September 11. 2001. You know I know. At the incredible. Worked on that date and -- horrible tragedy when America. And the world witnessed the best of selflessness and bravery commitment and courage. The goodwill. That came out of the horrible sacrifice of 343. Of our Brothers. With the FB NY. The loss. That we experience. With sacrifice they made. It stemmed from the incredible efforts. Other recognition of the work that was done in new York at ground zero at the Pentagon outside of Washington DC. -- with so many others who answered the call that day. That's when an admiring public people really understood how hard your jobs -- The sacrifices that you are willing to make. But the truth is things are very different today. In my view the goodwill is beginning to evaporate. And where we could do no wrong just -- few years ago. We now find ourselves on the defensive. Instead of smiling for the camera -- running from it because reporters are chasing us down to ask Gaza. About the growing ill placed impressions of the alleged inflated wages that our members are making. There are asking about those so called Cadillac health care plans. About -- over generate as unsustainable. Retirement systems and benefits. -- we worked so hard for over the decades. Willing to give up so much on the front -- along the way it would shore. That those and our business. -- -- benefit structures and sounding good health care plan. And -- retirement system that would allow them to enjoy their life after service to their community. And know that it was secure. Now. Newspapers now are. Finding that a field day to attack -- On the front page of too many publications and too many communities. On the front page of the Barron's report for those of -- -- might have seen. Two issues ago a front page firefighter. Land on a chase lounge on a beach. And side cartoon playing golf while the headline was. Cities are going bankrupt because of these gold plated retirement system that firefighters are receiving. Public officials are accusing us -- you know -- 'cause it's easier. While they're struggling with diminishing revenues. I find it easier to blame us as opposed -- coming claim that. And most cases when they -- appointed -- retirement systems of those huge unfunded liabilities. And these benefits that we can no longer afford to give you. But the real problem is when they decided to take tax holidays I love that you know holidays they called him. Simply meaning that they didn't pay their share -- to those systems. Over the years when the markets were running well. And returns were running high. Now they simply weren't prepared to pay there fair share of the -- so when the market crashed. They weren't gonna take any responsibility for the whole they found themselves -- Now I was gonna -- to point to you. Picture out of step with the rest of the world. You're entitled to receive their retirement -- and it benefits and nobody and -- and other you know other work sectors that are. Allowed to recede. It's not enough that this economic crisis which really bordered on -- depression. Has taken from us on the frontlines. And too many case to the unemployment lines. And for so many -- viewers still on the job of putting you on the firing line. For those -- -- in command out here you're being asked to do a lot more with a lot less I know that. They're being required to make ends meet while elected officials slash your budgets. Your choices often -- They're being pushed. Close the gaps by shutting down companies -- them out in a game -- what I believe is nothing more than neighborhood Russian roulette. Alitalia -- -- it occurred just two weeks ago. And I was just in Baltimore to station vision visit which I loved to do over 400 of them in the last ten years. A fire lit up. Across the street from here to the back -- that room apartment building from the station. The -- was and the house the engine was on Iran. Second do engine was. On -- third do engine was brown that. First engine available was -- then. Fires blowing out the windows people -- reported -- truck company responds. Firefighters go and make too great rescues. The place lights up there's no water. They bail out of third floor window. One of them hanging on for dear life on the ledge. Until -- burns were so severe. We finally had to let go following three stores on the concrete platform still in shock -- today. Could that have been avoided we'll never know. All I know is today. Engine company that was closer and could have begun to back up that crew. Wasn't available because they shut it down. Try to save a few but. Now you're being pushed reduce staffing levels. You and commanded doing it by attrition. You feel you have no other choice and yes. They're also looking at -- you're wrong which is one of our own. And too often in this last. Sixteen months handing them a pink slip. It's not just about. One of your own -- walked off the job hanging their -- up in the room. It's going home in shame. And telling your family. It's are out of work and you don't know what you're gonna do. -- not only are we fighting for our jobs. Defending our pensions and our benefits. We're also defending our reputations now. Those who want to tarnish it. Let there be no doubt this is a new time. We're in a new environment. Just last week as I said when I was in Las Vegas, Nevada I had to wake up to mornings and -- road on the front page. A local paper. Was the most recent attacks on our members. One about their wages. And whine about how could they be collecting money. RM DA. On the clock. -- you know -- it's a pretty sad state of affairs that we can't go out. And do our charitable work and raise the money. Some 47 million last year for. Those that are -- -- -- these horrible. Diseases. Find ourselves being criticized. For that kind of work but -- wrong. But that's how times have changed. And this recession. This incredible unemployment we're experiencing. The foreclosures the financial markets frozen. The weakened stock market have all created this perfect storm. A perfect storm. That's turning our profession upside down into many places. And now so many who once had high regard for us. Got a call it like it is take -- look out in California some of those publications. Ever referring to you and gotten us. Now we used to be part of the solution. It delivered the best. Service in the community. But now there are those who are beginning to view us. As a significant part of the problem. -- -- to have that political support from all corners. Committed friends but now many of our so called friends are beginning to take a -- to. Let's take a look at New Jersey. Our friends there are now in lockstep with the State's new governor ran on a platform he's gonna -- firefighters' pension plans. And within a three day period passed legislation to begin -- -- eliminating their retiree health care benefits. Passed by -- legislature. Signed by that governor. Now the attack on our members' health care plans and retirement benefits. Israel. With friend like friends like that. Who needs enemies. But the real question is. Who can we trust. I don't mean just to paint some doom and gloom this this morning. But this is a serious time it's gonna take some serious thought. We've got some serious work. To do. And the political landscape we find ourselves -- -- beginning to unravel. And even in the communities where there is no crisis mayors and city managers are using this historic. Uncertain time as an excuse. You know as well as I do that there are those out there that have been looking forward that cutting -- for a long time. Now they have an excuse to cut staffing to reduce companies and station. To reduce the resource is to go after your pensions to force us to make concessions. They have the nerve to really stand up and do it to our faith in normal times but now they're using this. Economic. Crisis. As a tool as a weapon against us. This is -- we're faced -- This next year I believe. It's going to be. Even tougher than last year. So we have to work within this. Week economic climate. We have to find a way to persevere. And to succeed. Until what appears to be just the beginning number recovery today hopefully. Begins to take coal and then start to filter back down to lots. Keep in mind that in every downturn and our economy over the last fifty years. We tend to be about ten to twelve months behind -- When the private sector is really feeling the paying. We find ourselves ten or twelve months. Before we start feeling that pain but at the same time -- ten or twelve months. Lag time. When the recovery began before we start -- that experience in the expansion. And while we wait for this recovery and fend off the attacks that are coming from all sides from those who really don't give a damn about any of our efforts. I'm concerned that there are also members of our own firefighter family. For letting us down. This may not be popular here -- FDI CI. But I walk through these exhibit halls. I've looked at the incredible tools and equipment that now -- -- manufacture. I am amazed and impressed. As any of you must be by the new rigs that are now being in offered to our profession. But I tell you lot I have a problem when too many decision makers are willing to purchase these -- sources. I think it's okay for those incredible rigs to roll out the bay doors -- just two or three firefighters on. I have a problem went up. Million dollar latter bill with six seats. Is running on -- and -- for those seats empty. That's wrong and it's unacceptable. There isn't a piece of apparatus in the world worth a million dollars to a community if it doesn't have the firefighters on it to conduct. Their work to make those rescues. -- -- -- to media department settled this backs. A dozen pieces of apparatus. Millions and millions of dollars of equipment just to try and get a minimum number. -- firefighters on the scene so that they can make a proper deployment. For an initial attack. No offense but in these sad circumstances -- viewed. These rigs at times -- is nothing but big shiny million dollar taxi cabs. And run up on the -- that are vacated just. Because -- cruiser. Trying to assemble. It's selling ground ladders out here. On this -- Show floor. -- how many departments are there where we don't have enough firefighters to effectively throwing climb. -- -- in all sorts of clothes lines. Out there. At how many departments are running short. Having trouble having enough crews to move those lines up the fire floors. Look -- decision makers whether they are elected officials or whether they wear the proud uniform of our business. A blue. -- with goal. Are doing the fire service that does service that they are willing to put our crews in jeopardy. When those trucks are running -- that. I don't have to tell you this of the life and death business. Some people use those dramatic turn -- you know the truth here understated. You know what you're willing to do what to do every day you don't like to call. Attention to it. But I have to tell you -- that incredible humility that you have. I take exception to anyone. And our firefighter family who is willing to put firefighters imperiled by lead in a -- roll out the station. When it isn't fully staff at least without not without taking a stand. At least not without putting up -- -- Staffing cuts might save money. They also cost lives. I know those in command here and beyond as well as those of us and labor. On this side of the house. I think we make it pretty clear I think we're both. Trying to pursue the same goals on behalf of our crews. But I've got to ask those sometimes -- have the power and had the decision making. How can you willingly participating cutting your cruise potentially placing them in jeopardy without some attempt to take off strong principal -- Just to save money -- I hope not. And speaking of money. And how many media attacks that we see on the amount of money. That -- our members are making an -- right. But -- all those salaries that they're willing to print in the front of these newspapers. How many times. Do they failed to report. And in most cases those salaries. Are made up of overtime. Lots of overtime because. Idiot town -- county. Won't hire additional personnel. They conveniently failed to inform the public. But the government gets off a lot cheaper by loaded our people up with -- overtime rather than pay the benefit retirement cost. Of -- additional firefighters. So we get a -- go out. -- load up on the work. -- -- getting whacked for allegedly making too much. And a turnaround and are willing to feed our members of the wolves. Are willing don't point out. And Los Angeles. -- -- the top wage earners in the city and filter in the firefighters and that top winning. Again not telling the full story. I can tell you one thing this -- We've had enough of that crap. And we're gonna mobilize. And -- -- fighting back. We're gonna put -- resource is on the line. Gonna put our money on the line we're gonna put our troops on the line we're gonna -- -- in our message across. We're gonna do it a lot more aggressively. We're gonna go back -- act to that public. We're gonna make sure that they understand what's at risk when the term Braun -- -- occurring in their city. Whose neighborhoods. Being exposed. -- to make sure they understand what -- and layoffs really translate into. What are we doing to our neighborhoods when stations are closing. It's not only making it harder for you to do your jobs but it's making -- less safe for them. That community for their families. Putting -- neighborhoods at risk. For those of you -- chief officer is -- particularly those of you or department sheets. I know you have your bosses. Believe me. And I know that you've got to report to them and I know you've got to carry out many times. A set of your own orders given to use it you don't particularly care for. I know your face was administering your departments -- slash resources. I know that they're demanding muted continue to reduce your budgets. And I know that there's only so much that you can do I know -- the money at a typical budget lives. But I'd prefer that we find out a way to work more to gather during these very trying times. And maybe find ourselves working in conflict. I don't look and I usually at the daunting challenges in the seriousness of these efforts that we mutually face. I do believe far more times that we really want. -- the very same thing. Are at least get to the same place. I can't believe that everyone in this room. Ultimately wants what -- -- kinda department you come from. Oh well resource to fully stacked in a well trained fire department. On the court issues they shouldn't come down to command against union. I wanna remind you those on the outside of our firefighting -- -- Those -- -- really turn the clock clock back on all of us. They want -- get us. Against them. I want to get sheets against union officers. They're willing to pick grizzled veterans. Again recruits and yes they're willing to -- paid against volunteer. There's nothing in the real enemy enjoys more -- does see us in com. Level of internal. Turmoil. Fighting among ourselves. Fighting with each other. -- -- down to simply stand on the sidelines. And do nothing to ease the burden the responsibility. The resource our industry like it should be. Having said that. And meaning that I also want to be clear that we are drawing a line thing. Enough is enough. We are prepared to battle for the future of our members. It's here and you would like to do it much much more cooperation and in conflict. But we're gonna be fighting for our members' rights -- going to be fighting for their jobs. And their safety. If our troops don't have a staffing and support they need to do the job safely. As far as I'm concerned they're being used as nothing more than sacrificial lambs. I'm not willing to let our industry due to our members what. Coal mining industry is in the process of doing a miners. Now willing to have our members killed. Because of bad. Economic political. And command decisions. We would never stand for sending the women and men who wear the proud uniform of our country's military services that uniform that so many of you have Warren. And many of you currently still where today we would never send them in harm's way. And wouldn't stand for it. If they were under staff are under resource. And this I AF Beth is not gonna stand for our domestic soldiers. All of -- the men and women of the fire service to be sent into harm's way with anything less. -- IFF has been doing everything we can't address this ever increasing. -- -- -- We fought like hell with many of you. -- a safer rules as just one effort. We're doing and tap that reserve of federal funding to get laid off firefighters back on the job to be able to start filling those positions that have been -- by attrition. We all work to get that 210 million dollars appropriated in 09. We supported a president over the first time in the program's history put in his budget money for that program 420 million. For 2000 intent and mouth -- another 335. Million for next year that's almost a billion dollars. So lot of money. And it's enough for all of us if you will to get our fair share. Now we've had some difficulties of that program some of you know that. The truth is we had some federal career employees. But quite frankly didn't give a crap about the dilemma. There -- -- out in the fields. They made the decision that regards what congress had to do regardless of what the secretary. Said to do regardless of what the new guidelines that should take place. They just felt that the way they had been doing it was a better way to do it that's where they were gonna do it. -- we had little meaning nettles sit down senior DHS and FEMA officials two weeks ago. I can tell you that after this first round of grant. All of which deserve but some out of priority. We're gonna get that squared away that grant money is now gonna start flowing. Some are flowing through the neediest departments. First. By the time that we really left there I think they really have seen the light. We got a state. Proof in the putting is always in the eighties I want to see that second round of grants. But that is supposed to go to the hardest hit -- bring those laid off who have lost their jobs. -- put him back on the job. And then close to fill those positions have been -- Of these last two years. That's the priority of the program right now for the next two years. But it's one thing to battle with some of the federal bureaucracy that we all tend -- at times. It's another thing that we have to battle some of our own. Some of those wanna sit -- peer -- tables. And game the system. Trying to see how they might be able to grade. The grant applications so that the prior to station is ignored. Selflessly misusing the system just to advance their own agenda over the core. Current mission of that program night right now and that is to create. Jobs and bring people back to work. But even with these frustrations now after months of working with congress. We are beginning to see some relief. At first 55 million dollars. -- Three weeks ago. 550. Jobs. What it's create. Jobs for firefighters and plant in saint Bernard parish in Cincinnati. -- -- is now going for jobs and Springfield. Missouri. Massachusetts. And Anderson Indiana. Now 49 communities in his first round 49 departments and counting. Every need some help of more help is on the way so we're gonna continue to do everything we can't to see that firefighters get back to work. And fill those spots that have been lost. But in addition to our federal efforts. -- state and local elected officials need to know that we are dead serious. And prepared to take them on we are not going to tolerate departments. Back continue to fight fires. With two and three on -- rate. We may not win. But I tell you -- we've got a pretty good reputation for. And that is we're willing to take a law. -- and doesn't make sure that. They know that we're not gonna have this great -- -- apparatus city in a big bay doors. With anything less than adequately staff. -- Anything less is unacceptable. We can't let those who view us as our budgetary burden. Use this crisis -- simply got our -- Palin I'm willing to protect communities. -- you protect. I know how bad it is out there I spent 200 days here on the road I mean every corner the United States and Canada two great countries. I know what's going on in this economy. But even in the worst of times government must not ignore one of its fundamental responsibilities. Government is there essentially. To do and take care that people in one of those responsibilities. -- -- protect its citizens and to protect its firefighters and deliver our service. And we won't tolerate public officials compromising. On our member safety. And we're prepared to hold them accountable. And we are prepared to continue to -- that political arena and we're prepared to take them on Democrat Republican or independent. And -- -- prepared to win but we're also compared to lose but more importantly they'll know that we'd been in the game. They'll know that they've been in a fight. We won't tolerate sectors and our own firefighting community and a squabble about who's gonna get more while compromising. On our members' safety and we won't tolerate Washington bureaucrats who ignore that desperate need of departments large and small urban and rule. The force them to operate. With too few on their crews. Those of chosen to attack us using and a guys -- this dark economic time as their tool need to know it is no longer open season on you. We won't let them play games with your lives. And we need to stick together. And we truly need to fight together -- we are doomed to failure. And we're gonna -- again. The choice is all about -- -- And I commit to -- this IA FFX users to work with all of you. And to put the power of our 300000 members 3200 locals 57 state provincial councils -- -- willing to put that on the front line. -- Jeff -- share yet. I just hope that you'll choose -- stand with us. Because I believe. Sisters Brothers. That have we really stick together. We -- prepared to fight together those on the outside of our profession who won contests. Who want a -- -- clock back. They'll have no chance. So let's step forward on behalf. Of all of those that wear the proud uniform of our business. And I'll be proud to stand with you in that battle god bless you god bless every firefighters soldier on the front lines every -- The fire -- last. To have the general president. I FD is blessed the agrees to come back and and visit -- there -- no you raise up your classes. But I wanna see that you'll see he gets our squadron -- it's one of 500. And without the I have without you we couldn't be here so nobody -- -- -- -- It was I know you -- -- your classes could please remember -- -- valuations. A couple things haven't tonight we've got Norman and -- up here at 5 o'clock. Please sign up to have fun run and we all wanna -- of those are trying to get 500 to run we're just shy so let's get to fund run table. And remember the fools bash tonight I don't have to remind you about that -- How many -- in the audience. Who -- -- All right god -- show all but seven great conference.

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