‘Two Years After Collective Bargaining Is Achieved in the State of Texas, We Can’t Find an Example of One That Hasn’t Run Off All the Volunteers’

For decades, top bosses of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF/AFL-CIO) have opportunistically wielded their monopoly-bargaining privileges to wipe out what they darkly view as “competition” from volunteer fire departments.

The IAFF constitution explicitly empowers union officials to impose fines and other punishments on rank-and-file IAFF members who choose in their spare time to volunteer as firefighters in a community near the one where they work.  And local IAFF union bigwigs in many states have over the years pushed for union contract clauses prohibiting all firefighters, union members and nonmembers alike, from volunteering in their spare time.

In Right to Work Texas, state policy allows union monopoly bargaining over firefighters, but only if the community votes for it in a ballot measure.  This coming Saturday IAFF union bosses in North Hays County, Texas, intend to procure monopoly-bargaining privileges with the approval of a measure known as Proposition 1.

But as ABC-affiliated KVUE-TV in Austin reports (see the link below), volunteer firefighters in North Hays County are strongly opposing the Proposition 1 power grab.  As volunteer firefighters Bill Hopkins and Dean Rudolph recently explained to a KVUE reporter, in Texas IAFF union bosses have time and again succeeded in “running off” volunteers in jurisdictions where they acquire monopoly-bargaining privileges:

“We will routinely turn out over 30 total combined firefighters for large incidents out here, and you would not be able to do that without the volunteers,” said North Hays County ESD [Emergency Services Department] volunteer Bill Hopkins.

However, volunteer firefighters tell KVUE a measure, called Proposition 1, to allow unionized, full-time firefighters collective bargaining rights will push everyone else out.


“We are literally (unpaid) volunteers. The union, as stated by their president, doesn’t like that at all,” volunteer firefighter Dean Rudolph said.

Hopkins says they’ve studied other departments who have passed similar votes, with negative findings.

“Two years after collective bargaining is achieved in the state of Texas, we can’t find an example of one that hasn’t run off all the volunteers,” he said.

Signs against Proposition 1 can be found all over North Hays County. Volunteer firefighters told KVUE News they’re not worried about their jobs, since they don’t get paid. They’re worried about the safety of people who live in an area surrounded by dry brush.

“There are only five full-time, paid firefighters on duty at any given time, so when something happens out here, more likely a brush fire, you need a lot more firefighters to put that out,” said Hopkins.

Another one of their concerns is a higher tax rate, because Hopkins says “resulting hiring that has to go on because the volunteers are gone will max out the tax rate that we have available, and not hire enough firefighters to replace all of the volunteers.”

However, this is not an issue about who is full-time or not, Hopkins said.

“When a call comes out, we gotta throw the bunker gear on and run into that house and it doesn’t matter who paid and who’s volunteers,” he said.

He and other volunteer firefighters say it’s about serving the people of North Hays County the best way they can.

Union vote in Hays County could run off volunteer firefighters