MONTRÉAL, Sept. 27, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ - It is now a full century's worth of tradition that has driven the Montreal Firefighters Association's mission and its union, dating back to 1918, when the city's firefighters started forging a united story. Values of fraternity, cooperation, mutual support, solidarity and the defense of collective interests, have built the Association, and created unbreakable bonds.
Newly elected Montréal Firefighters Association (APM) President Chris Ross said today that the union's progress over the years has clearly helped to elevate the profession and service to modern standards. In the early 1900s, for example, firefighters' working conditions were painful, if not inhuman. A fire hall captain would live on site with his family, and answer calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week while firefighters worked 140 hours a week, with only a few days off every month, for a staggering low salary of only $ 0.75 a day.
The first employment contract was signed in 1919, one year after the founding of the Union of Firefighters of Cité Montréal local 125, which first became affiliated to the International Association Fire Fighters (IAFF). Mr. Ross notes that in 1974, this first union unit became autonomous and independent, renaming itself as the Association des Pompiers de Montréal inc. "The men and women of our association face a working environment that is more dangerous than ever. We must continually change our strategies and tactics to accomplish our tasks. Our methods may change, but our goals remain the same: saving lives and protecting property, sometimes at enormous cost, even going so far as sacrifice our own lives."
Since 1918, more than 121 firefighters have died in service, including 90 from the Montreal Fire Department (SIM), 13 from the former merged suburban services, and there have been 18 deaths due to recognized occupational disease; these 121 members lost their lives by protecting Montreal's citizens. Cancer is this century's leading cause of death among APM members.
Union evolution has been marked in recent decades by several clashes and labor disputes with the City of Montreal's administration; one only needs to recall the famous 1974 red weekend, the fifth strike in Montreal firefighters' history that ended after three days with the direct intervention of then Prime Minister Robert Bourassa.
The last 7-year collective agreement ended in December 2017. Since then, the battle over pension plans created by the Quebec Government's Bill 15 has prompted the Association, along with the public sector's Coalition des syndicats, to make a legal challenge to the constitutionality of this law, which is deemed unfair by the union members. Meanwhile, the APM, with its 2,400 members, has recently agreed to re-join the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), which gathers 300,000 members across North America, including 22,000 in Canada.
"This reunion with the IAFF is a logical rekindling of a longstanding relationship; APM has been a member of IAFF twice before: from 1918 to 1931, and again from 1948 to 1974,"continued Mr. Ross. He also mentioned that the APM has always been independent, but that it has benefited from advantageous service agreements that allow it to ensure aligned, modern and adapted management of major common issues, not only in Quebec but throughout North America. Moreover, concludes Mr. Ross, "We have always maintained communications with our IAFF connections in Washington, regardless of our membership status."
A unique coincidence: The IAFF is also celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2018.
SOURCE Association des pompiers de Montréal
For further information: Source: Chris Ross, President; Info: Alexandre Dumas, 514-898-4636 (cell), 514-843-1901 (direct line), [email protected]