There are no new problems in the fire department – they may be new to your local, but somewhere there is a department that has experienced the same thing.

This is one of the reasons for the IAFF Ernest A. “Buddy” Mass Human Relations Conference, which kicked off today in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Nearly 300 IAFF members are attending this biennial conference designed to help IAFF affiliates address human relations issues and respond to challenges at the union hall and on the job.

Many of the attendees are participating in the IAFF Human Relations Conference for the first time, eager to learn more about improving human relations within their own local.

The IAFF has always advocated for every affiliate to establish a Human Relations Committee, and never more so in these challenging times.

Among the dozens of workshops, this week’s conference offered a session to help IAFF affiliates get started.

Partnership Education Program (PEP) instructors Will Newton (St. Petersburg, FL Local 747) and Dennis Eulberg (North Metro, CO Local 2203) led the discussion on how to create a strong and effective committee.
A Human Relations Committee serves many purposes, including:

•    Promoting diversity and inclusion
•    Ensuring all local members are represented fairly, equally and without discrimination
•    Assisting in challenging discriminatory practices
•    Handling human relations issues before they become grievances or litigation
•    Making the union stronger by increasing unity and solidarity

Diversity is what makes individuals different from or similar to one another. It encompasses race and gender, but also personal history, sexual orientation, abilities and disabilities, religion, class, geographic origin, and professional or educational backgrounds. Everyone has something offer.

Want to learn more about Human Relations Committees? The IAFF offers other workshops through its Partnership Education Program, as well as with online learning modules.