October 5, 2020

The Future of 2294

Brothers and Sisters:
As I approach the twilight of my career within the department, I have been looking back at the progression of this union and now speculate about its future. For those who may not know, I have dedicated my entire career in the fire service to this union, as both a union steward and elected officer. For the last 25 years, I have always believed and promoted our union’s mission and purpose. My interests, goals and vision for the prosperity and longevity of this organization have always looked beyond my own tenured involvement.

I was elected to the office of Secretary and served as such beginning in 1998. In 2013, I was elected to the office of Treasurer and currently remain in the position. Upon being elected in ’97, I brought with me the skills I learned both as a manager and director in a corporate environment to the union. This “management” viewpoint has always been heavily tempered with my vision. During this time, I have worked side by side with a number of the union’s elected representatives who have possessed some combination of intellect, charisma, expertise, and their own unique perspective. I have never been reluctant to share my vision of the union’s future with other elected representatives, or members. Collectively we have elevated ourselves to our current standing. Our union is one of the largest, leading, financially sound and equally recognized public safety officer labor organizations in the state of Florida.

This Local was chartered and began as an idea at the kitchen table at Fire Station 11 with a dozen firefighters. From those humble beginnings it has since transformed into a Florida registered 501(c)(5) non-profit corporation with several million dollars of real property and assets in its control. It has a highly coveted and well-respected Political Action Committee that is active in both local and state politics. Today this Local is responsible for the welfare and well-being of nearly 1,200 members and our membership will continue to grow.

Despite any difficulties or setbacks encountered over the years, this Local has remained committed to staying involved in the department’s future. Most of the changes were made possible only as a result of the years of fostered relationships, alliances, and connections with decision makers. The material value of an individual’s long-term involvement and interest cannot be dismissed. This is the most effective way to obtain the necessary experience and to appreciate the historical perspectives of our organization and the department.

Many of you may not realize that our union will experience a significant change over the next few years. This year the incumbent Secretary and 1st Vice President, as well as senior members of the Executive Board are not seeking an additional term. In 2021, the incumbent President will not be running for re-election. In 2022, the incumbent Treasurer will not be running for re-election either. These changes can create tremendous opportunities for continued success, or it may create a risk of unintentional regression.

I am confident members will continue to seek both Principal and Executive Board positions as terms come available. There are only two (2) eligibility requirements to be elected, 1) be a member in good standing; 2) be nominated, and seconded. Nothing more. An individual’s eligibility, however, doesn’t always translate into them being a qualified candidate. During my 23 years I have seen representatives elected to office that were humbled by the responsibilities of their elected position and were unprepared of what was required of them.

We should expect a representative who has been involved in the Local and to have a working knowledge of the following – the Local’s Constitution and Bylaws and policies, the department SOP’s, the Collective Bargaining Agreements, F.S. 112.82, F.S. 447, Weingarten Rights and Garrity Rights. We should expect them to know who the decision makers are here locally and in Tallahassee. We should expect them to possess the needed skills and knowledge for the position being sought. We should expect them to be able to have a working understanding of the elected position’s responsibilities and requirements first, prior to any personal aspirations of changes or improvements. We should expect them to place the Local’s (the members) interests before themselves. These expectations should be the cornerstone of any candidate’s platform to build on.

As I see these changes before me and drawing closer, I felt it necessary to share these thoughts with you. My goal has been and remains to promote and support the prosperous future of this organization. I never expected to have traveled on this path and for this period of time, but I am better for doing so. I am thankful for the confidence in my abilities and am grateful for the opportunity. Stay safe, healthy and hopeful.

As Always I Remain Fraternally,