Thursday, September 15, 2005

Danny Feeney, Fire Fighters Local 416

At age 34, Danny Feeney already is a veteran union activist. In the past nine years, Feeney has served as president of Fire Fighters Local 416 in Indianapolis, worked on numerous rallies and campaigns and now serves as a trustee for his local. “I’m involved in just about everything the union does,” he says.
Feeney says he has been active in building the union from his first day on the job. “I wanted to be involved. It’s important to make sure that we have the things we need to live a good life. Nobody can take care of us but ourselves,” he says.
Much of Feeney’s outreach occurs around the kitchen table in the firehouse, he says. His co-workers know he’s active in the union and they often have questions about issues such as job security, as the city tries to cut its budget due to declining revenues. “I answer all the ones I can and if I don’t know, I’ll find out the answer,” he says.
Feeney’s latest union project is taking a lead role in the fight to get the Indiana legislature to approve the consolidation of nine fire districts into one. The Fire Fighters overwhelmingly support the move as a way to increase efficiency and safety, but Feeney says local Republican politicians are trying to pit fire districts against each other to defeat the plan, which was proposed by a Democrat mayor. Feeney spoke at a rally in support of the measure at the state capitol during the last session of the legislature—and he vows to be back again this year.
Feeney, who is married with two young children, ages 14 months and a newborn, says his work through the union is motivated by his most cherished goal: improving life for firefighters with families.
“I’d like to see a 40-hour workweek and more time off,” he says. Currently, Indianapolis firefighters work 48-hour weeks. Feeney works shifts from 6:30 a.m. until 8 a.m. the next morning. “I have to be there at 8, but I come in at 6:30, so the guy ahead of me can go home. He has a family,” he says.
“I absolutely enjoy being in a union,” Feeney says. “It’s fun to be involved. If you’re not involved, you don’t have the right to complain. Of course, I’m willing to listen to everybody’s opinion, but it means more if it comes from somebody who is informed and active.”


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