Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Unions that oppose volunteering

The fire-fighters unions are cracking down on its members who volunteer in their free time to be volunteer fire-fighters. Philip C. Stittleburg of the National Fire Council describes what is happening,
Most Americans take it for granted that when we punch the clock and leave work, our time is our own to do with as we choose. More than 800,000 men and women in this country choose to dedicate a significant portion of their free time to serving their communities as volunteer firefighters. These individuals train on nights and weekends and are "on call" to respond to emergencies when they aren't at their full-time jobs.

For thousands of career firefighters, the choice to volunteer for their hometown fire department during off-duty hours comes with a threat of expulsion from their labor union. That is exactly what happened to Vincent Pereira and Michael Schaffer, firefighters from New Jersey who were targeted by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) because of their volunteer service. Mr. Pereira was expelled, and Mr. Schaffer departed the IAFF on his own after being threatened with expulsion if he didn't stop volunteering.

The examples of Mr. Pereira and Mr. Schaffer are noteworthy because they stood up to the IAFF and continued to volunteer. Facing similar circumstances, many more "two-hatters" simply quit volunteering, not wanting to give up their union membership or risk alienation in the workplace.
Apparently, the unions think that they have control even over its members' free time and desire to use their skills to help their communities.

This reminds me of a friend who used to be a teacher in Massachusetts. She tells of how the union reps would reprimand her if she met with students to tutor them before or after school since that was beyond what the contract said and it made other teachers look bad.