What Does “Brotherhood” mean?

I read an article yesterday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that unfortunately, didn't surprise me all that much. It regards a professional, career firefighter who chose to opt out of his union due to his political beliefs. He's a conservative, and due to his stance on the political causes championed by the union, he's decided to take his money elsewhere and invoke a little-used "Fair Share" legal clause that allows him to drop his union membership and only pay pro-rated dues for his share of the collective bargaining. He does not pay for the union's wider political activities.

And this? Well, actually I can support it. He's voting with his feet based upon his beliefs. I respect anyone of strong conviction that truly does what they believe to be right. I like that, in fact… no matter a person's political spectrum (Well, almost no-matter their political spectrum)

I rarely talk about politics here, but this case is different. It seems this firefighter has constructed a float commemorating his brothers who died in the Sept. 11th, 2001 attacks and wants to run it in the local Racine, WI 4th of July parade.

The union thugs (Yea, I said "Union Thugs". That's what they are) have issued a fatwah barring any union firefighter from riding on or marching with the float in the parade. They won't comment further on the issue. They just don't want to support the "fair share" firefighter.

Here's the article, you should read it yourself "Firefighters' Union Throws Cold Water on 9/11 float"

As I said, I am not at all surprised by this. I'm still saddened, though. It makes me think it's time for me to pull out my favorite Paul Combs political cartoon.

Kind of says it all, doesn't it?


Also on another note,  did you read my last monthly JEMS column on Ambulance Service Disaster preparedness? You really should:




  • http://hybridmedic.com HybridMedic

    I agree with his conviction, but we have no “fair share” here (Right to Work) so to enjoy the union representation means paying the dues for their assistance in navigating certain political and civil service legalities. I contribute to FirePAC since the International turned the money back to local campaigns. I think all our PAC money should stay local, since at the federal level very little is done in the way of the IAFF and our battles with city councils, mayors, and state legislatures have more impact on the daily lives of members.

  • Anonymous

    We have one guy (reasonably) local who detests the “liberal” bent of the union and is all in favor of the current union-busting efforts. Except for HIS pay, schedule and benefits package, of course. His general outlook — oft-expressed — is that unions are inherently evil. However, he’s also usually the first to file a grievance — a UNION grievance — when the agency does things he doesn’t like.

    It would seem to me that if one is opposed to unions, one should sever all affiliation and negotiate pay and benefits on one’s own behalf, without assistance from the union.


    I often wonder if the only reason some public safety locals get 100% membership is because the new recruits are afraid of the consequences if they don’t join and stay. I know it would be the only reason I signed on the dotted line. In this area I would literally fear for my safety. Too many things can “go wrong” in a smoke-filled building. I’d definitely have to buy a car to drive to work that I didn’t care about (maybe with an air compressor and tire repair kit in the trunk).

    Hell of a business model for so-called fraternal organization- membership through fear.

  • AL2903

    Brotherhood means backing up your team members, whether you agree with them or not. If this guy want’s out of the union then fine, but he should also want out of the pay and benefits the union provides for him. He does’nt have to agree with the union’s “liberal” political beliefs, but he should recognize that they pay the mortage on his house and feed and clothe his family. Love the Paul Coombs pic. I have his book on my coffee table right now.

  • AL2903

    Brotherhood means backing up your team members, whether you agree with them or not. If this guy want’s out of the union then fine, but he should also want out of the pay and benefits the union provides for him. He does’nt have to agree with the union’s “liberal” political beliefs, but he should recognize that they pay the mortage on his house and feed and clothe his family. Love the Paul Coombs pic. I have his book on my coffee table right now.

    • Ckemtp

      Actually, that’s factually incorrect. It’s not the union that does that. It’s never the union that does that. The guy’s paycheck comes from the taxpayers and the taxpayers alone.

      In fact, so does the union’s paycheck, come to think of it.

      • http://thehappymedic.com the Happy Medic

        Actually, the salary does not come from the tax payers, it comes from their elected officials, whom they choose. those officials then negotiate or establish salaries for the various positions, often negotiating with individuals or groups (unions) to establish salary, benefits and working conditions. Then the elected officials fund the various agencies who in turn ay the salaries. The tax payers pay into a fund which is distributed by elected officials. Also in this fund are accounts receivable for services rendered, fines, donations etc. To over simplify and state that all government salaries are tax payer funded alone is factually incorrect. the union’s paycheck comes out of my end of my salary, not the tax payers. If they are unhappy with my compensation package they should vote to replace their elected officials who establish those salaries.

    • http://emtmedicalstudent.wordpress.com/ Joe Paczkowski

      …and what if, upon being able to negotiate based on his own worth with the fire department, the department believes he deserves more compensation than the current going union rate?

  • AL2903

    Brotherhood means backing up your team members, whether you agree with them or not. If this guy want’s out of the union then fine, but he should also want out of the pay and benefits the union provides for him. He does’nt have to agree with the union’s “liberal” political beliefs, but he should recognize that they pay the mortage on his house and feed and clothe his family. Love the Paul Coombs pic. I have his book on my coffee table right now.

  • Rhunic

    When all the unions have been busted. When everyone is entitled to their “fair share” based on their worth to the company. You will look around and wonder, ” why am I only making minimum wage?” If you don’t like the union, go work for someone else. I’m sure that good old Micky D’s will hire you. No matter what you want to believe the reason EMS professionals can have the opportunity to make more than minimum wage is because of unions. I’m not saying that unions are perfect, but it is the same people who do nothing but bitch about them that also do nothing to improve them either. I give it up to the bravery of the firefighter in your article, but if he feels that strongly about it then he should step up and start running for union office. If I was on his department I wouldn’t walk with him. He chose not to be part of the group. Now he can live with the choices he has made.

    • http://emtmedicalstudent.wordpress.com/ Joe Paczkowski

      Yep, with all of the problems with EMS, the lack of any significant barrier to entry that completely overloads the supply side of supply vs demand, the lack of any significant effort to increase education levels to branch out into other parts of healthcare past the very limited portion regarding transport (ignoring simply increasing education to meet the current demand of the field), and the lack of any effort to increase medicare/medicade reimbursement (that money to increase wages across the board has to come someplace), not to speak about the complete lack of professional pride and ethics that too many paramedics and EMTs have (because the cost for repairing the equipment that was needlessly wrecked has to also come from someplace) isn’t at all a problem. The only reason for low wages is a lack of unions. Oh, and remind me when physicians, dentists, and lawyers unionize.

      “If you don’t like the union, go work for someone else.”

      So, can we tell people who want a union in a non-unionized workplace to go work someplace else all the same, or is this a one way proposition?

      “but bitch about them that also do nothing to improve them either.”

      Why should I work to improve an organization that I have no want to be a part of? More importantly, why should anyone be forced to support the political efforts of any specific organization. Would you accept your employer withholding part of your pay to support their political ideology? What does giving money to one political party or another have to do with negotiating this specific contract? Shouldn’t union dues go specifically for that contract and not political lobbying?

      “He chose not to be part of the group. Now he can live with the choices he has made”

      …and the union is going to have to live with their choices. The headline for an article about this could have just as easily been “Firefighter union blackballs 9/11 firefighter memorial.” I think the bigger question is, “Why are firefighters supporting a union that apparently doesn’t care about dead firefighters?”

      • Rhunic

        You obviously must work(have worked) for a private non-municipal ambulance. I’m not saying that there are no problems with a union service, but many of those that you have listed are not as rampart as you make it seem.I’m not going to sit here and flame war back and forth just because we have a difference of opinon. I am just going to say my expirence with unions has been positive.

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Chris Kaiser aka "Ckemtp"

I am a paramedic trying to advance the idea that the Emergency Medical Services can be made into the profession that we all want it, need it, and know it deserves to be.

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  • Comments
    Jessica Krause
    Stop Feeding the EMS Tee Trolls
    I may take you seriously when you learn proper grammar and spelling. Until then, here's a lesson: It's either 'Don't take it TOO hard' or 'Don't take it To HEART' depending on what you were trying to say.... It's not 'fetal mind' it's 'feeble mind' and 'You're worried not 'your worries' If you are going…
    2015-05-22 18:49:00
    Mark Tyson
    Stop Feeding the EMS Tee Trolls
    Oh your that guy who thinks he stands out above all others in our profession and feels he has "seen the shit" LOL. Your "combat vet" and "20+ years" in EMS make you very suspect simply by how you just presented yourself. How old are you? Its seems those who say they have seen more…
    2015-05-22 18:22:00
    Joe Paczkowski
    Stop Feeding the EMS Tee Trolls
    Apparently someone is wearing them because people keep trying to sell them. I have to imagine if no one was buying them they'd be long gone by now. Am I blaming any of EMS's problems on a t-shirt? No, not by a long shot. However if I saw a medic wearing one of those shirts,…
    2015-05-22 17:58:00
    Stop Feeding the EMS Tee Trolls
    Didn't take long for the usual proverbial dick measuring post to come out. Thanks for your service, but you could use a healthy dose of professionalism. Of course people aren't wearing this garbage at work but if they're still wearing it in public, then it obviously identifies you as EMS. The shit is tacky, and…
    2015-05-22 15:59:00
    Stop Feeding the EMS Tee Trolls
    I spent 30 years as an EMT and I own a paddling shirt( did field testing for AED)plus a DNR t shirt worn only during drinking excursions at EMS conferences. Yup some of those shirts are dumb but what the heck it stimulates someone's economy. But here in the big city we have folks we…
    2015-05-22 15:03:00

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