New Haven Firefighters, International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 825, filed suit yesterday against the state IAFF affiliate, the Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association of Connecticut, Inc. in a dispute over a range of issues between the two organizations.
Local 825 alleges it was not a member of the UPFFA, but had agreed to pay “legislative dues” as far back as 2006. In 2016, the local decided to withdraw from UPFFA. The UPFFA continued sending Local 825 invoices and even hired a collection firm to recover what it believed was owed.
The matter apparently escalated over the 2017 Christmas holidays when the collection firm called the home of the parents of Local 825’s president, Frank Ricci. Rather than waiting for the UPFFA to sue, Local 825 filed a four count suit yesterday in Superior Court seeking a declaratory judgement on the issue of dues owed, as well as allegation against the UPFFA for breach of fiduciary duties, negligent misrepresentation and innocent misrepresentation.
As explained in the complaint:
- Plaintiff, Local 825, is an unincorporated local fire fighters union with its principal place of business located at 350 Ferry Street, New Haven, Connecticut 06513.
- Since April 10, 1945, Local 825 has been a local affiliate of the IAFF.
- Defendant UPFFA is a statewide union incorporated under the laws of the State of Connecticut with its principal place of business at 30 Sherman Street, West Hartford, Connecticut 06110.
- UPFFA is a state affiliate of IAFF.
- Local fire fighters unions in Connecticut affiliated with the IAFF can choose to affiliate with the state affiliate, UPFFA, but they are not required to do so by the IAFF.
- Instead, the IAFF merely “urge[s]” local affiliates to join state affiliates.
- Indeed, Local 825 has chosen, at certain times since its founding, to neither be affiliated with nor pay dues to UPFFA.
- On information and belief, immediately prior to 2006 or thereabout, Local 825 was not a member of or formally affiliated with UPFFA.
- Local 825 is not a charter member of UPFFA.
- Two affiliation levels exist for IAFF local unions that wish to join UPFFA—“full membership” or “legislative only” membership.
- In 2006 or thereabout, Local 825 did not join UPFFA as a “full” member.
- However, on information and belief, in 2006 or thereabout, Local 825 decided to pay UPFFA “legislative only” membership dues.
- On information and belief, during 2006 or thereabout and subsequent, Local 825 never executed an agreement to be a legislative only member of UPFFA.
- UPFFA legislative only members have fewer UPFFA membership rights than UPFFA full members.
- Legislative only members are only allowed to vote on UPFFA business involving “legislative issues, political endorsements, PAC fund budget, and distribution of PAC fund donations.”
- Legislative only members are also limited as to their say in executive board members and their ability to vote in elections.
- Local 825 believed from on or about 2006 through April 26, 2016, that UPFFA was using all of the legislative only membership dues that it was paying to UPFFA only to fund legislative efforts in furtherance of Local 825’s legislative interests.
- Local 825 estimates that it has paid UPFFA approximately $200,000.00 in legislative only membership dues between 2006 and 2015.
- As Local 825 learned on or about February 26, 2016, UPFFA has not used legislative only membership dues paid to UPFFA by Local 825 exclusively for legislative activities.
- Instead, UPFFA has used certain amounts of legislative only membership dues paid to it by Local 825 to support collective bargaining and other non-legislative activities for locals other than Local 825.
- Local 825 estimates that at least $96,000.00 of said dues were used by UPFFA on non-legislative activities.
- On January 4, 2016, Local 825’s executive board voted, by unanimous consent, to “terminate [its] membership in the Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association.”
- After the January 4, 2016 vote by Local 825’s executive board to terminate Local 825’s UPFFA legislative only membership, Local 825’s president, Frank Ricci, by e-mail, notified UPFFA’s president, Mr. Carozza, of Local 825’s executive board’s action terminating its UPFFA legislative only membership.
- From January 2016 through the present, Local 825 has not paid any dues to UPFFA based on the fact that it terminated its UPFFA membership on January 4, 2016 and Local 825 is under no obligation to continue the payment of dues upon disassociation.
- Between January 2016 and the present day, UPFFA has continued to send Local 825 regular invoices, requiring payment from Local 825 for legislative only membership dues, despite the fact that Local 825’s executive board voted on January 4, 2016, to terminate its UPFFA legislative only membership.
- On or about April 5, 2016, UPFFA sent a letter to Local 825 notifying Local 825 that UPFFA suspended “Local 825 from membership.”
- Local 825’s membership cannot be suspended since its executive board voted on January 4, 2016, to terminate its UPFFA legislative only membership.
- UPFFA retained Recovery Solutions, an alleged collections agency based in the State of Delaware, to collect from Local 825 legislative only membership back dues in the amount of approximately $52,816.96 that UPFFA alleges Local 825 owes in arrears for periods of time subsequent to Local 825 terminating its UPFFA legislative only membership.
- Todd Harris from Recovery Solutions sent letters dated December 6, 2017, and December 13, 2017, addressed to Mr. Ricci and Mr. Vendetto claiming that Recovery Solutions had been enlisted to collect approximately $52,816.96 on behalf of UPFFA from Local 825.
- Harris from Recovery Solutions made phone calls to Mr. Ricci regarding collection of allegedly owed legislative only membership back dues, leaving voicemail messages on
- Ricci’s voicemail on or about December 8, 13, and 14, 2017 (the December 14 voicemail message referencing Mr. Ricci’s wife by name).
- On or about December 19, 2017, and twice on or about December 28, 2017, Mr. Harris left additional voicemail messages for Mr. Ricci regarding the collection of alleged back dues.
- Harris from Recovery Solutions made a phone call on or about December 28, 2017, to Mr. Ricci’s parents’ home phone regarding the collection of allegedly owed legislative only membership back dues to UPFFA and left a message related to such on his parents’ home phone line voicemail.
Here is a copy of the complaint: IAFF Local 825 v UPFFAC