IAFF Members from across the United States and Canada are attending the 2012 Ernest A. “Buddy” Mass Human Relations Conference in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

The 20th annual conference is designed to build solidarity among brother and sister fire fighters as they explore the differences that divide and unite  them in the firehouse.

Fire fighters come together and discuss real issues such as race, sexual orientation, communication barriers, gender issues and other work place issues. After the two-day conference fire fighters leave with new strategies and tools to help build a stronger work environment.

General  President Harold Schaitberger gave welcoming remarks to a cheering crowd Monday morning. He says the conference is an opportunity to seize the moment.

“This International of ours is something to be proud of because it represents the very best,” he says.

“We can take two paths forward -the easy path and do nothing and stick with the status quo or we can take a different path that encourages inclusiveness and diversity.”

US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis delivered the keynote address speaking on the power and importance of protecting union rights.

Keep up to date with us this week as we will post conference highlights.