Volunteer? Not if you are getting paid for it! How can Volunteers Unionize?

Volunteer – a person who performs a service willingly and without pay. (from Dictionary.com)

This post is referencing an article on FireRescue1

When I volunteered, I got $3 a call for responding to a call. I understood this as a perk for my time. However, the County saw it differently as far as I was concerned. It was their way of being able to hold me to certain standards that might not have been followed had I not been reimbursed per call.

Canadian Volunteers in Springfield have earned the right to Unionize. Yeah, I know it sounds like a paradox.

However, these volunteers aren’t really volunteers in the truest sense of the word. They are getting paid.

Vlaming said senior volunteer firefighters get paid $16 an hour for every call they respond to, with a minimum payment per call of two hours.

So, actually what we have here is underpaid firefighters who respond to calls and consider themselves “volunteers”.

You might say that $32 dollars for a call that takes 15 minutes (false alarm) might be decent pay. But what about benefits. You might say that they don’t need them because these firefighters hold full time jobs outside their “volunteer” service.

So what is next? I am not so sure you can consider yourselves “volunteer” if you are a) being paid and b) unionized.

What Union will they join? The IAFF? I don’t think the IAFF will be happy with firefighters being paid w/o benefits! After all, the IAFF does not support volunteer firefighters…with the exception of the two hatters who are career firefighters and volunteer firefighters.

What will the Union contract say? Will they soon be more like “paid” firefighters instead of “volunteer” firefighters?

This is a conundrum.

I don’t know the answer, but this is very interesting and I will have to see how it works out!

Read the entire article here.

Hat tip to Billy Goldfeder on this article.