When Firefighters Came to Washington

Federal firefighters work in dangerous and extreme conditions, and as such they deserve to receive credit for all of the hours they work. That's why federal firefighters from the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments came to the nation’s capital in early October to fight for fair pay and healthier working conditions for all federal firefighters and first responders.

It was the first-ever legislative conference convened by the AFGE Firefighters Steering Committee. A group of 14 firefighters met with their lawmakers and staffs and received policy and organizing updates from AFGE staff.

AFGE’s firefighters also hosted a congressional reception with a dozen fellow firefighters represented by our sister AFL-CIO union, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Attending the congressional reception were Reps. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, Mike Bost of Illinois, and Mark Takano of California.

Rep. Connolly is the lead sponsor of HR 3733, the Federal Firefighter Pay Equity Act, which would ensure that all of the hours worked by federal fighters are counted toward retirement, including mandatory overtime hours.

AFGE members also met with staff from the office of Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander, whose committee is key to securing a vote on a bill creating a firefighter cancer registry. Bills pending in the House and Senate would direct the federal government to create a national registry for collecting data on cancer incidence among firefighters.

Firefighters Committee Vice Chair Bill McGuire, who also serves as president of Local 1708 in North Carolina, said AFGE firefighters received "tremendous support” from lawmakers and staffers.

“People are definitely energized. We just need to keep driving it home,” McGuire said.

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