Alaska Professional Fire Fighters Association (APFFA) President Tom Wescott, Professional Fire Fighters of Alabama (PFFA) Secretary-Treasurer David Harer and Omaha, NE Local 385 President Steve LeClair are the latest IAFF members to graduate from the Harvard Trade Union Program.

The program packs a semester’s worth of material into an intensive six-week residential session for union leaders. Participants receive high-level leadership training, gain more insight into issues facing the labor movement and exchange ideas.

“The program’s organizers do an outstanding job of covering important topics – such as arbitration and strategic planning,” says APFFA President Tom Wescott. “It was also a great opportunity to step outside the box and learn what other unions are doing.”

PFFA Secretary-Treasurer David Harer concurs, “I learned as much from the students as the instructors. I believe it is a product of people coming from so many different places and backgrounds. It is good to get different perspectives.”

The program’s organizers take pride in creating a curriculum designed to provide students with the knowledge they need to combat the challenges of the labor movement. Core courses include: strategic planning, labor history, leadership, dispute resolution and arbitration, union governance and public sector labor relations.  All courses are taught by Harvard faculty and invited guests.

All three say they will be bringing what they learned to their state affiliate. “I want to be the best possible advocate for our brothers and sisters that I can be,” says Local 385 President LeClair. “This program definitely provided me with a lot of knowledge that will help me achieve that goal.”

Since 1942, the Harvard Trade Union Program has prepared union activists to meet the challenge of dynamic leadership within their unions and society. The program helps union leaders develop keener analytical, managerial and problem-solving skills, as well as discover ways to deepen public understanding of the value and importance of labor unions.

The IAFF awards scholarships to members who demonstrate active participation within their local as an officer, committee member or other leadership position. More information is available here.