Local 1568 History and Accomplishments
History and Accomplishments of the
Henrico Professional Firefighters Association –
IAFF Local 1568
A little history is always good for educating our members of where we were and what we have accomplished. The history is a work in progress and will be updated periodically with input from past presidents, members, and other contributors to our local. The importance of educating our membership will create an understanding of how our local grew over the last 50 years.
Local 1568 organized by the IAFF August 17, 1965 by 64 firefighters in Henrico County. The founding members are listed on the official charter that is maintained in our offices. A list of past presidents and executive board members will be posted in the near future.
Local 1568 was 50 years old this summer. Our goal is to identify the actions and accomplishments of Local 1568 over this time period. In the early years our leaders focused on salaries, working conditions, safety, staffing, equipment, overtime, and work hours. This kept our leaders busy and is very similar to our current issues. It is our intention to show the value of this organization and educated everyone on the importance of having one voice at the local level. Currently we watch for changes and provide input on issues that relate to our workers compensation, working conditions, safety, equipment, staffing, salaries, overtime, vehicles, training, continuing education, work schedules, retirement benefits, and other job related items. Our focus is on the local level and what we can do within Henrico County to make our jobs safe and easier for all members. We focus on protecting our rights and benefits. Our executive board and membership is available to assist spouses and family members with illnesses and injuries of our members.
In 1973, Harold Schaitberger (Fairfax County) was elected president of the Virginia Professional Firefighters. Harold worked hard in Virginia and implemented political actions on a new level. He was instrumental in winning many items in our General Assembly. This began our assault on legislation and fighting for our rights. In 1976, Harold went to the IAFF at the request of the General President to begin the IAFF’s legislative programs. Harold is presently the IAFF General President and still protecting our rights in Virginia.
The issues and items listed below are just a snapshot of what the Henrico Fire Fighters Association, Virginia Professional Fire Fighters, and the IAFF have accomplished.
Minimum Staffing – currently we have three person minimum staffing. In the early years, our members responded to calls with two personnel and waited for volunteer supplemental staffing. Our local utilized the political process to gain more staffing. This fight is not over and one day we will enjoy staffing levels as recommended by NFPA 1710.
Firefighter Bill of Rights (Virginia Code § 2.1-116.9:1) – This legislation was crafted by the VPFF, with the assistance of our local. Local President Doug Conway was involved with Eric Lamar (Fairfax County) in producing this protection for our members.
VRS 50/25 Retirement Benefit – In the mid to late 1980’s, our VPFF Legislative Chair, Doug Conway (Henrico County) with the help of Delegate Bob Ball helped gain the current VRS Retirement benefit of 25 years of service and 50 years old. Prior to this change we had a 30/55 retirement package.
Grievance Procedure Protection – In the past years, the County of Henrico attempted to have the Grievance Procedure changed at the State level, to be beneficial toward management. The Delegates and Senators came to Local 1568 and would not carry the legislation if it was not approved by President Hughes. This kind of cooperation is the key to our success. In 2009, many bills were introduced to change our procedures
VRS Multiplier Change and Local Adoption – In July 2007, the General Assembly adopted legislation that increased the multiplier from 1.70 to 1.85. This was a local option and required Local 1568 to work with the County Officials for adoption.
Henrico Retirees Supplement for Health Care – In January 2003, Henrico County began providing a supplement for retirees. This was because President Hughes and Local 1568 members identified the funding from VRS premiums that the County did not have to pay. It is $3.00 for every year of service after 20 years of service.
Overtime for Snow Closing – On more than one occasion over the last 20 years our local has fought for overtime payments that the County denied when they closed the County Government Offices.
Healthcare Costs – Our direct involvement with the Board of Supervisors, County Manager, and Director of Personnel has led to changes in the percentage of healthcare supplements that Henrico County pays towards each employee.
Defined Benefit vs. Defined Contribution Retirement Plans – In the last few years our defined benefit plans have been coming under attack by City, County, and State political groups. In the current economy, we are lucky to have the defined benefit plan. Our retirement guarantee will not change, unlike someone who has defined contribution plans. Our local is protecting this benefit.
Career Development Program – In the 1980’s our membership worked with the County to develop the current career development plan. This plan was a direct result of Henrico Police receiving CDP. Our plan had opposition from the County Manager and Director of Personnel, but we prevailed with help from the Board of Supervisors. Our plan has many changes over the life, but overall we still have a plan based on knowledge, skills, and abilities, rather than completely on college courses like police.
Sick Leave / 7 day/21 day Shift – during the 1980’s our local was successful in bargaining for the current 7/21 shift cycle and sick leave benefits.
2001 FLSA Changes (Guaranteed 9 hours Z Time) – This came from change in the Virginia Code to guarantee personnel working over the mandatory hour payment of their half-time. Prior to this change, an employee who was away from work lost their Z-time. This amounts to a two percent increase in wages for all firefighters working a 56 hour work schedule. This law requires the payment for all hours over 53 per week and is more stringent that federal law. Your local had a direct impact on this legislation through the VPFF.
ALS Supplemental Pay and Incentives – In January 1994, then Fire Chief John Bowes sent an email to President David Nuckols about working on an ALS incentives package. Later that year Chief Bowes retired and Henrico hired Fire Chief Mark Light. Chief Light kept this project on the front burner. He utilized recommendations from the EMS task force and committees to make an attempt to formulate a plan. The first incentives were in the form of coats, coveralls, boots, and personal EMS bags. These items came from the administration and recommendations from a work group. During the time of transition, President Nuckols suggested the extra ordinary pay incentive that was in the pay plan and could be awarded at the discretion of the Department Head. Chief Light agreed that this was a possible solution. He moved forward with this idea and that was the first supplemental pay plan for the Division of Fire. It is important to know that many Division of Fire members formulated committees to look at the ALS issue. Some items came forward from these committees that helped Local 1568 and Chief Light with new ideas. Chief Light and Local 1568 members knew this was a temporary fix to the issue and worked on new ideas for future plans. Local 1568 presented an ALS Plan to the Fire Administration in 2002. Chief Mastin began to move forward with the ideas and ran into opposition at the human resources level. Our local worked with our friends on the Board of Supervisors to educate them on our plan and they were very receptive. During the budget presentations to the Board the ALS Plan was not included. The Board of Supervisors asked Chief Mastin where the plan was and why it was not presented. The County Manager and Director of Personnel responded and upon the Boards request it was moved into the Budget Presentation. Local 1568’s power point presentation was later used with minimal modifications by the Chief and Director of Personnel in a County Budget presentation. The County Manager put together a work group to look at all public safety employees and specialty pay. The original plan included all specialties in public safety. When the ideas were finalized, the police department opted out of giving specialty pay. They formulated a plan to increase the police officers pay approximately 2.3% and change the pay scale. This would change parity / fairness in the pay scales in public safety. We capitalized on this item and educated the Board of Supervisors on the impact of the police plan. When the smoke cleared we had our current ALS incentives plan and the 2.3% increase. Overall, everyone benefited in the fire department from the ALS incentives plan. The current plan includes educational funding for intermediate and paramedic courses, pay incentives, and continuing education.
The Governor of Virginia appoints members from the IAFF, VPFF, and Local 1568 to Committees and Boards on a routine basis.
Doug Conway served on the VRS Board for many years. He served his maximum term as a board member and his knowledge, skills, and abilities protected our pensions.
Dr. Lori Moore – Merrel was the first member of the IAFF to be selected and appointed to the Virginia EMS Advisory Board to solely represent the VPFF membership. This appointment took many years of political action and facilitation of changes to the regulations on the composition of the board. Dr. Moore – Merrel was replaced in 2009 by our own member, Gary Samuels. This is why we work hard for our members at all levels of government.
We have representation on the Fire Board. This position helps to push our concerns forward on education, training, and safety of our membership.
VPFF President Mike Mohler is a member of the Virginia Community College Board.
Workers Compensation and Our Participation
Heart Lung Presumption – In the late 1960’s to early 1970’s we worked with the Virginia Professional Firefighters to gain our current presumptive legislation for Heart – Lung Presumption. (Virginia Code § 65.2-400) This bill places the burden on the employer to prove the injury/illness was not job related. In 1976, the Virginia General Assembly amended the Act to provide a rebuttable presumption that a causal connection exists between certain public safety occupations and respiratory disease, hypertension and heart disease. This became known as the heart/lung presumption.
Cancer Presumption – In recent years we worked with the Virginia Professional Firefighters to gain Cancer Presumption legislation for seven very specific types of cancers. In 1994, the presumption was expanded for volunteer and salaried firefighters with twelve years of continuous service to include various forms of cancer such as leukemia or pancreatic, prostate, rectal or throat cancer caused by a documented contact with a known or suspected carcinogen, as defined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. (Virginia Code § 65.2-402). In 1999, the presumption was amended to delete the requirement that the employee prove that his cancer was caused by a “documented” exposure to a toxic substance. Now, the employee need only prove a covered cancer causing death or disability, twelve years of continuous service and contact on the job during that time with a toxic substance known or suspected to be a carcinogen capable of causing the cancer in question. In the last few years we were successful in adding ovarian and breast cancer to our presumption legislation.
Infectious Disease – Effective July 1, 2002, we gained our current Infectious Disease Presumption Law (Virginia Code § 65.2-402.1). This bill provides a infectious disease presumption to certain law enforcement and firefighters for hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis, tuberculosis, and HIV. If the employee had an occupational exposure before July 1, 2002 the exposure shall be deemed “documented” automatically whether or not the employee gave notice of the exposure to his employer, but for occupational exposure after July 1, 2002, the employee must have given notice, either verbal or in writing, to the employer of the alleged occupational exposure. Occupational exposure means only that the exposure to bodily fluids occurred in the course of normal job duties and that puts the employee at risk of infection.
Over the years we have been instrumental in winning cases for our members through the hard work of our legal counsel and solid legislation provided by our members. In 2002, Local 1568 successfully won a Heart-Lung case for deceased member Bill Woody. This case took many years and over $10,000 to fight. In 2009, we did it again. Brother Jeff Sawulski won his workers compensation case under the Heart-Lung presumption. These are just a few big cases. Everyday we are fighting workers compensation cases for our members.
The IAFF, VPFF, and Local 1568 can take credit for many accomplishments. You as a member are a big part of why we work hard to protect, educate, and create legislation that makes our line of work safer and more efficient. Our accomplishments are: Hazardous Materials Legislation, Pension Reform Legislation, Ryan White Act, Enforcement of OSHA 2-in/2-out, Age Discrimination Employment Act, Increased benefits for Public Safety Officer killed in the line of duty (PSOB), S.A.F.E.R Funding, FIRE ACT Funding, Mychal Judge PSOB Act, Bioterrorism Preparedness, and Homeland Security Department.
We are presently pursuing: Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, Federal Investigations of all fire fighters line of duty deaths, Federal Fire Fighter pay reform, Protection of the Fair Labor Standard Act, working with the President to create stimulus plan funding for public safety.
In 2009 our Local, VPFF, and IAFF worked in Richmond, Virginia to protect our current legislation: Protection of Cancer Presumption Legislation, Protection of existing heart-lung presumption legislation, Increase penalties for assaulting a fire fighter or medic, Increased Virginia Public Safety Officer Benefit, Increase in VRS multiplier, and Protection of our grievance rights and procedures.
The Henrico Professional Firefighter has many charities and non-profit agencies that receive support. We must remember that giving starts in the heart, paying forward is important, and to always help those who need our help.
In 2009, our local was successful in creating the Henrico Firefighters and Families Charitable Foundation. This foundation supports all employees of the Division of Fire. This charitable foundation was founded because we saw a need to have funding available to help our family when they need our help. The membership voted to begin the process to develop a non-profit charitable organization that will benefit Henrico County firefighters and families. The Local could not have completed this process without the help of Brothers John Montgomery and Mike Woods. These two men spent many hours with lawyers, the executive board, and others to develop something that is truly good for our organization. Thanks to many long hours this foundation is a reality.
Central Virginia Burn Camp – Our local supplies counselors, cooks, and food for one day during the Central Virginia Burn Camp. This program allows our members to travel to the camp and cook for the staff and children. Our members get to participate in many events and it enables us to give back to the campers.
Muscular Dystrophy Association – MDA is the top charity for the IAFF. The IAFF has been involved with “Fill-the-Boot” since 1954. Our local is instrumental in collecting over $50,000 each year for the Richmond area. All funds that we collect stay in Richmond area to help our citizens. Our members volunteer their time at the MDA Camp each year helping with special events and outings. It is a great experience when you can help these children paddle boats, fish, play sports, and swim.
Over the years we donate to the American Heart Association, American Cancer Association, Grace Oughton Cancer Foundation, New York Firefighters 9-11 Charity, IAFF Disaster Relief Fund, Cystic Fibrosis, American Red Cross, IAFF Burn Foundation, Henrico Christmas Mother, Angel Tree, Marvin Griffin Charity Golf, High School After Prom Parties, Northside Outreach Center, and many other worthwhile causes and charities.
Page Last Updated: Aug 16, 2017 (18:42:59)