The Fire Lines - December 2016It is with great pride and honor that I write this report as your UFA president. For the past 14+ years I have had the honor and privilege to represent you as your Vice-President, now I will serve out the remainder of this term as your President. While the timing may not be optimal with my recent election as the IAFF 1st District Vice-President, I can assure you I will work hard for you until my last day in office. This Executive Board is committed to fighting hard for all our members and their rights. It has taken many years for the UFA to build up great admiration and respect in the Halls of Albany and City Hall. This Executive Board has years of knowledge and experience that has made us successful in winning the fights to make sure our members get what they need. In 2017 we will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the UFA. A full Gala will take place in the fall. Stay tuned for more details. Restoration of Full-Disability Protection:
On September 8th, 2016, Governor Cuomo signed into law Chapter 398 of the Laws of 2016. Following a nearly two-year campaign more than 2,300 UFA members and all future firefighters gained disability protections. The NY State Assembly and Senate unanimously approved legislation granting New York City Firefighters, hired since June 2009, the same disability protections as more senior FDNY firefighters. The State Assembly approved the measure 113-0 and the State Senate voted 61-0. This followed the NY City Council also passing a unanimous home rule resolution, sponsored by City Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, in support of the action.
The bills, A10567/S08015, by State Assemblyman Peter J. Abbate, Jr. and State Senator Martin Golden and signed into law by the Governor restore disability protections for NY City Firefighters that were lost after former Governor David Paterson vetoed Tier II disability extender legislation for both New York City Firefighters and Police in June 2009.
As a result of the 2009 veto, firefighters hired since June 2009 had been eligible for disability protections that were as low as $27/day if they were permanently disabled in the line of duty. It meant this was a must win fight for the UFA membership.
As part of its August 2015 contract agreement with the City of New York, the UFA and Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed on the full restoration of disability protections for all current and future FDNY firefighters.
During 2015 the UFA campaign to spotlight the true dangers this posed to our members and the public shook the political world and won over the media and editorial pages, but still the City dug in its heels. The campaign we led was not only successful, it was recognized as the top communications campaign of the year by the Public Relations Society of America for the impact it had in changing opinions. It also received First Place for the IAFF's Best Affiliate Public Relations or Political Campaign.
Best wishes to you and your families for a very happy and safe New Year!
James M. Slevin