The Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union (MPFFU) is Michigan's largest professional, career fire fighter organization, representing over 8,000 active and retired firefighters and emergency medical workers who live in communities throughout the State.
The MPFFU works diligently to promote legislation which advances the interests and safety of firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians. To accomplish this, the MPFFU has always been, and will continue to be, very active in Michigan’s electoral process.
The Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union is beginning their endorsement process for the upcoming 2022 elections. This process requires a completed questionnaire and possibly an interview with the local union or unions in your legislative district. Although screening of individual candidates occurs at the local level, decisions on endorsements are made by the MPFFU Executive Board with input from the locals.
It is important to note that the August primary and the November General election are treated separately for endorsement purposes, so additional interviews and recommendations may be required. Also, an endorsement by the Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union does not ensure that a financial contribution will follow.
Please return this questionnaire as soon as possible, but no later than June 15, 2022. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at (734) 675-0206. Thank-you.
Mandatory Staffing Levels
Staffing levels are critical to fire fighter safety. Inappropriate staffing levels put our fire fighters' safety at risk, the ability to reduce fire loss and protect the public. The National Fire Protection Association recommends, as part of NFPA 1710, that each company be staffed with four fighters including a company officer, and that the company officer must remain as part of the company; they can’t stay outside of the building as command. Most of the departments in the state do NOT meet the guidelines of NFPA 1710, leaving our fire fighters and communities vulnerable.
Do you support the ability for fire fighters to bargain with their employer over safety issues, such as having enough fire fighters on the fire scene or staffing on a vehicle?
Pension and OPEB Reform
In December of 2017, Governor Snyder signed legislation that implemented the recommendations of the Responsible Retirement Reform for Local Government Task Force. This developed solutions to communities’ challenges with funding their pension and OPEB liabilities for public employees. The legislation kept intact a core principle of ensuring local control and allowing each community to negotiate with their employees to decide what is best at the local level. It also provides for greater transparency and data collection, which will enable a more targeted approach to solving individual communities’ issues.
The global pandemic the world is currently facing is bringing renewed challenges to Michigan’s financial situation. Communities are likely to suffer from reduced revenue sharing and economic shortfalls, potentially further impacting our public employee pensions. The work that was completed by Governor Snyder and the legislature still applies today even through this next fiscal crisis.
The full report can be found by clicking here.
Do you support maintaining local control and allowing the implemented task force recommendations time to work?
The COVID-19 crisis has further exacerbated the revenue shortfall cities have been dealing with over the last 20 years. Prior to the pandemic, funding local governments received from revenue sharing has diminished by more than $8.6B dollars - click here for report. This coupled with the restrictions to property tax growth due to challenges with Proposal A, have prevented communities from realizing the economic recovery happening in the state. Communities across the state have made difficult decisions in balancing budgets through reduction of services, consolidation of programs and cuts to employee benefits. Michigan’s citizens have 2,400 fewer fire fighters in their communities since before 2011. This is not a safe trend for our communities.
State level funding needs to be addressed by the legislature. Revenue sharing needs to be restored and changes to the property tax act must occur to give the opportunity for our communities to fully restore core services.
Do you support finding ways to increase revenue to local governments through reforms to the property tax act and revenue sharing?
The recognition of the emotional challenges facing fire fighters while at work has become more and more prevalent. The fire service has had more deaths annually by suicide than in the line of duty. This is unacceptable and is why the MPFFU has been stepping up to develop greater resources to help our first responders deal with their mental health. Currently, if a first responder is diagnosed with PTSD it is not considered a job-related injury unless the employee can prove it came from a specific incident. But PTSD is an exposure based injury and does not come from just one incident. It’s from repeated exposures which makes it difficult to prove. It is time that our communities recognize that Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is the result of the work that first responders do day in and day out protecting our communities. Therefore, a presumption is needed to ensure that our firefighters are taken care of while facing injuries from exposure at work.
Do you support establishing this presumption under the Workers Compensation Act for all first responders in Michigan?
Collective Bargaining Rights
The Public Employee Relations Act (PERA – PA 336 of 1947) allows for collective bargaining, which is a process where employee representatives, through their unions, negotiate contracts with their employers to determine their terms of employment, including pay, benefits, hours, leave, job health and safety polices.
Collective bargaining has a long and successful history in the fire service. When fire fighters and fire chiefs work together to address issues, it makes for a more productive workplace and improves public safety. Studies have shown that communities that promote labor-management cooperation enjoy more effective and more efficient delivery of emergency services. Despite productive labor-management cooperation in most of our communities across the state, the legislature has eroded these rights through multiple amendments to PERA over the last several years. In a short-sighted attempt to reduce costs, some policy makers want to abolish collective bargaining to make it easier to cut pay and benefits.
Would you support continuing the right of fire fighters to bargain with their employers over workplace issues?
PA 312 – Binding Arbitration
Fire fighters perform essential services, protecting the safety of the public, therefore it obviously is unlawful for fire fighters to use a labor stoppage as a tool in collective bargaining. As a way of leveling the playing field, Michigan adopted Public Act 312 in 1969. PA 312 which provides for binding arbitration to settle disputes between labor and management. When an impasse occurs at the bargaining table between labor and management, Public Act 312 is utilized to break the impasse. An arbitrator will hear evidence from both sides and then issue an award to one side or the other, resolving the impasse. This award is binding on both parties. While 95% of all contracts are settled without the need for binding arbitration, it still remains a very important tool for both labor, management and ultimately the safety of the public. This method has worked very well through the years, which is why the MPFFU strongly advocates that this act remain in place.
PA 312 was amended in 2011 to require the arbitrator to consider a community’s ability to pay as the first factor in the negotiation. PA 312 has served communities over the years to provide a responsible and balanced approach to resolving disputes.
Do you support the continuation of PA 312?