Brother and Sisters,
First, I would like to say I am honored to be nominated to run for Executive Vice President. I have met most of you either through the years around the station, at tower union orientations, or transitions. For those that do not know me, allow me to share a bit about myself: I am a single father to a 13-year-old daughter; any time not spent at work or committed to union activities is devoted to her. I came to County Fire in the transition from Hesperia in 2004, and since then I have been assigned to Divisions 1, 5, and 6. My current assignment is Station 311 in the City of Victorville. I have served in various forms for our union from divisional rep to my present position as Executive Vice President. I also assist in the needs of our affiliate groups as well as working with the vice president of Division 11, Special Operations which covers an evolving collection of programs that require support to grow and fund properly, specifically ambulance operators and fire suppression aids.
I want to take a minute to look back and reflect on some of the significant changes in our union as well as the fire district. In a short period of time we have made huge strides to bring us in line with what is acceptable in our industry. We have fought and won major battles for firefighter safety related to minimum staffing standards, eliminated part time extra help personnel (Limited Term Firefighters) by converting them to full-time professional positions and continue to pursue PCF reduction. We have also expanded our membership and coverage with the addition of equipment and stations and developed programs to utilize our personnel to better serve the county. Not to mention facilitated multiple annexations and supported our new brothers and sisters during that process. During my time on the board I was able to work collaboratively to achieve these goals through debate and discussion with executive staff, political discussions, or public outreach strategy, education and pressure. Of course, this is only a partial list, and we continue to fight for many more.
Our executive board with the support of the membership has adopted a multi-step plan in order to ultimately secure BETTER PAY AND BENEFITS for our members. This has been my priority to support and pursue in each position I have served. We needed to accomplish the aforementioned goals in order to look like other counties and cities whose benefit packages we aim to pursue. While there is still progress to be made, we have begun seeking a sustainable revenue source to support future growth and decrease our reliance on the county general fund. We are close to achieving this through the expansion of FP-5. We still have the hurdle of the final public hearing, but we remain optimistic in its eventual adoption.
I believe however that there is more work to be done. We need to secure and ensure the continuation of the County / District MOU in order to staff unfunded areas, and we need to continue to fight for additional discretionary money via that MOU. Our NUMBER ONE priority must be to fix ourpay and benefits. We MUST retain the quality members we have and attract new talent to serve alongside us for the long term. Once we secure the final FP-5 vote I believe we are at the point where our conversations need to shift from private political push to public outreach and pressure.
My current position works closely with the President on political issues whether it be with the Board of Supervisors, local district boards / city councils, or state and federal elected officials. It has taken a number or years to develop relationships with each of these various officials. I cannot emphasize the benefits of long term relationships as they apply to union/political support. With each changing of the guard, these relationships must begin from square one. Like it or not, trust in these relationships develops only with time. These established lines of communication that have been developed by our union have assisted in many issues for us locally.
Aside from politics, internal union relationships are equally important. An executive board that has the ability to appreciate differences of opinion yet consistently reach a consensus and direction is crucial. We cannot expect to be externally successful without the ability to negotiate as a single voice.
Since I started on the executive board one of my priorities was to increase communication and public outreach. It took quite a few years and some convincing, but we eventually adopted and established multiple outlets to communicate with the public and decision makers to showcase what you do each and every day. This is one of the first steps in political action in my opinion. PAC money, a