PALM BEACH, FL – By a vote of 24-13, the rank-and-file members of Palm Beach Fire-Rescue voted to stay in their union, unlike the town’s police officers who voted in September to leave their union.
Thirty-seven out of 44 firefighter/paramedic/EMTs and driver engineers in the non-supervisory unit cast ballots over a two-day period. In the end, the majority decided to stick with IAFF 2928 Professional Firefighters/Paramedics of Palm Beach County, the union that has represented them since 2001.
The supervisory unit of fire-rescue pulled out of the union last month without a vote after the union did not contest the move.
Firefighter/paramedic Michael Messner, the lead petitioner for the firefighters, said he had no idea which way the vote would go.
“There were guys on the fence that could swing either way and they decided to stay with the union,” Messner said. “I just think some of the guys didn’t feel like they wanted the change. Our supervisors were petitioning to get out of the union and I was contacted to ask around to see how many wanted to get out of the union and I did. We had 18 people wanted to get out of the union and, obviously, some of those people changed their mind and wanted to stay with the union. I guess people were kind of scared to change.
“Now we know where we stand,” Messner said. “We all have to unite and proceed, and, hopefully, the best comes out of this for us.”