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IAFF Unions have issues with Congressman Kanjorski

04.09.10

APRIL 2010 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

IAFF Unions have issues with Congressman Kanjorski

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, April 1st- Several International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Unions in Lackawanna County are very dissatisfied with incumbent United States House of Representative Paul Kanjorski (Democrat-11th Legislative District) and they are requesting for their members to not vote for him in the May 18th primary election.

IAFF Local 860 President Dominick Rinaldi contacted the newspaper about a story published in the March edition stating in his opinion Mr. Kanjorski does not deserve the support of IAFF members. Local 860 represents 18 members of the Borough of Dunmore Fire Department in Lackawanna County. “We didn’t support Kanjorski two years ago because he doesn’t support firefighters and we won’t support him in 2010,” said Mr. Rinaldi.

Mr. Rinaldi told the newspaper around eleven months ago Mr. Kanjorski attended a meeting in Dunmore and stated perhaps Dunmore residents can’t afford to have paid fire fighters and maybe they should be eliminated and have a volunteer department.

The Borough of Dunmore has been plagued with servere financial problems for several years and has recently cut the Fire Department’s part-time budget to save funds. Borough officials have discussed the possibility of filing to become a “distress municipality” under Pennsylvania Act 47. Scranton has been under the legislation for more than seventeen years.

Mr. Rinaldi told the newspaper because of the cut-back often there is a staffing shortage. The Borough of Dunmore has only one fire station located on Blakely Street. The staffing shortage occurs when full-time fire fighters are on vacation, or on holiday or on “kelly days” which are days received instead of over-time. The average workweek for a fire department member is 56 hours.

“Firefighters are forbidden to strike for better working conditions and right now the department is working understaff and the Council just wants to cut the department,” said Mr. Rinaldi.

He told the newspaper the previous Borough of Dunmore Council didn’t believe in the importance of the department. Dunmore is the largest Borough in Lackawanna County and the third most populated municipality, behind Scranton and Carbondale with 14,000 residents.

David Schreiber, President of the IAFF Local 60 in Scranton, which represents 139 members of the Scranton Fire Department, agrees with Mr. Rinaldi’s opinion regarding Mr. Kanjorski’s lack of support for unionized fire fighters.

Mr. Schreiber told the newspaper his union asked Mr. Kanjorski to discuss reaching a contract compromise with Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty and he declined to reach-out to him. “Being a leading Democrat we felt he could have some influence with the Mayor and requested he ask him to make every attempt to settle our contract,” said Mr. Schreiber.

Mr. Doherty has failed to been able to reach a new labor contract with Local 60 during the more than eight years he has been Mayor of Scranton. Local 60 has not had a contract with Scranton since December 2002.

Mr. Schreiber said the relationship between Mr. Kanjorski and Local 60 is no better than Local 860. “We recently had a meeting with him in Washington hoping we could work things out but he came into the meeting and said, ‘You’re the guys who don’t like me.’ Things did not go too good after that and we later walked out.”

Despite the strained relationship between Local 860 and 60, the IAFF International Union in Washington, DC has donated funds to Mr. Kanjorski’s 2010 re-election campaign.

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