What a Fire Fighters' Union Must Provide Members in Today's World

The facts are clear: today's world is characterized by insecure employment. Fire Fighters need the highest possible level of job protection. Their union must provide total representation. It must be armed with complete service capacity and a dedicated staff of highly qualified professionals who deliver these services to the membership in a timely and coordinated manner:

All members must be assured:

  • Maximum appropriate pay for the work they perform.
  • The best possible employment benefits, including pension and medical insurance.
  • Protection of all employees' rights, including the highest standards for working conditions, as established by law.
  • Top-quality labor legal expertise.
  • Direct availability of professional assistance in matters of financial, insurance and retirement planning.
  • Political clout: the strongest possible collective voice in communicating needs, opinions and positions to lawmakers.
  • A communications program which keeps everyone in the organization fully informed, which serves as an interconnection between the membership and the organizational leadership and which informs the public about the organization's position on major issues.
  • A leadership structure which represents the membership's interest and goals in the creation and implementation of the organization's operating policies.

Total representation means delivering full service:

  • The Michigan Association of Fire Fighters is, in every sense of the term, a full service public safety union.

 

The Labor Relations Staff

 

Unequaled experience, expertise, achievement

 

MAFF's team of labor relations' professionals is acknowledged as number one in experience and proven expertise in the State of Michigan.  It has earned this recognition by achieving an unequaled record of success in all phases of union representation.

The staff's wealth of experience in public safety labor relations has been built through many years of performing highly specialized work.  Its expertise is a product of total familiarity with every phase of a complex field of knowledge.  The esteem in which it is held by other professionals reflects unsurpassed respect throughout Michigan's labor relation's community.

Most of all, the excellence of MAFF’s labor relations staff has been established by its unparalleled record of achievement.  This is what ultimately pays superior dividends to members.

 

 
 

Fred Timpner, a former president of the Southfield Police Officers' Association (SPOA) has more than three decades of experience as a law enforcement labor leader.  Within a year of joining the department in 1971, he was chosen as a shift steward for his local association.  Soon afterward he was elected vice president.  A subsequent election made him president of the 100-member group.

Timpner's obvious leadership qualities and rapidly demonstrated talents in labor relations made him a high-profile candidate for a new career as a law enforcement union professional.  Fortunately for the many hundreds of officers who since have benefited from his negotiating and advocating skills and knowledge, he decided to enter the field.  Armed with his considerable natural abilities, his valuable local association experience and a full complement of college-level labor relations studies, he became a full-time union service professional just a few years into the modern era of the law enforcement labor movement.

From that beginning, Timpner has earned an enviable reputation as an expert in contract negotiations, grievances and grievance arbitrations.  His tremendously successful record has been highlighted by negotiating two "breakthrough" contracts:  the agreement in Sterling Heights which for the first time brought base wages of over $70,000 a year to officers in Michigan and the pact which, years previous, smashed the $30,000 a year barrier in the state.  Just as important, Timpner is established as one of an elite few professionals who are experienced in presenting Act 312 arbitration cases.

His credentials are such, in fact, that the former outstanding student of the discipline has been called upon to teach college courses in labor relations.

Ronald Palmquist is a veteran of 21 years as a Southfield police officer with an ideal background.  He was a union steward in the early 1970's, became his POA's secretary by 1980 and served as its president during the '80's.  After he was promoted to sergeant in 1986, he was elected the Southfield COA's wage negotiator, which meant he was the chief of the bargaining team.  After retiring in 1991 he came to work full-time for the Union.  Since then he has gained immeasurable experience negotiating contracts and handling grievances through arbitration for member units.

He has good background experience in dealing with employers and has a first-hand knowledge of what officers need and how to help them get it.  He possesses exclusive knowledge in health care and pension plans.

“The proof is in the pudding” as the old adage says, and if it is, one has only to look at some of the collective bargaining contracts negotiated by Ron.  They are some of the best that are in the public sector.

Ed Wertz brings many years of experience to the members of MAFF, having served with the Detroit Police Department for 32 years and a member of the prestigious Mounted Police Section for 28 years. He served on the DPOA Executive Board for 20 years, chairing their Finance Committee and By Laws committee, as well as having served on their election committee. He has personally handled over 100 grievances and was instrumental in providing the goals and direction for the membership in the collective bargaining process.

Ed has also served members of the Retired Detroit Police and Firefighter Association as Vice President for two years and also as their President for three years. In addition, he served the Detroit Police employees as a board member for the Police Benefit and Protective Association.

He volunteered his time as a member of the Detroit Police Athletic League, earned his degree from Henry Ford Community College, and continues to be involved with the Knights of Columbus.

The Michigan Association of Fire Fighters is pleased to introduce Ed and welcome him as one of our Labor Relations Specialists. He has always taken his responsibilities seriously and will represent our members well.

James Steffes served 26 years with the Sterling Heights Police Department, retiring as a Sergeant. He was active for eight years with their Grievance Committee and was involved in the Association activities relating to them. He served a full career in a Department that, with the help of Fred Timpner, broke many statewide barriers in wage and benefit packages. He has been serving MAFF since 2008. His personality and disposition, along with many years of experience in successfully handling difficult contract situations, lends itself to success.

Donnell Reed began his police career with the Washington DC Metro Transit Police after honorably serving our country in the United States Marine Corps. He joined the Pontiac Police Department, and was elected to his local Association’s offices of Steward and Chief Steward. He then served on the Executive Board as Secretary, and then became their President, serving in that capacity for three consecutive two-year terms. He brings with him experience in contract negotiations and handling grievances. Believing in fighting a good fight for what’s best for the membership leads him to the personal philosophy of “If it’s worth having, it’s worth working for.” Donnell has been with the MAFF staff of Labor Relations Specialists since 2008.

Joe O’Connor spent 31 years with the Sterling Heights Police Department: Eight years as the Patrol Officers and nine years as a Sergeant. As their Grievance Committee Chairman, he reviewed all complaints and attempted to resolve the issues at the lowest possible level. As a member of the contract negotiation team, he represented his group and was instrumental in settling multi-year Collective Bargaining Agreements. He brings valuable experiences to MAFF in representing members in Disciplinary Hearings and Contract Negotiations. His unique perspective from specialized Internal Affairs training is also an added benefit to our members.

Joe comes from a Union family. His father was a Committeeman for the United Auto Workers, and having grown up in a Union household, Joe attended UAW meetings with his father since he was 10 years old. It’s this kind influence, experience and background that lead Joe to using a diplomatic approach in resolving issues. But make no mistake; Joe is not afraid to take a hard-line stand when necessary. Joe always fights to do what’s right for our members.

Joe has served as a Labor Relations Specialist for MAFF since November of 2009 representing members from each of our three Associations. We are proud to have Joe as part of our professional family.