One Union is changing focus.

What a big day for the Tea Party.  It has won what is essentially a victory over federal interference in local issues.   People like Scott Walker  in Wisconsin and John Kasich in Ohio have, with the backing of a real grass-roots right-wing group forced the hand of at least one big municipal union.  Here is what the International Association of Firefighters had to say today.

Brothers and Sisters,

The International Association of Fire Fighters has grown into a political powerhouse in the Nation’s Capitol and in state houses, county and city halls across the country.

Over the past decade, the symbolism of our profession and the image of our fire fighters and paramedics decked out in this union’s trademark gold and black have become one of the most sought after endorsements in politics at every level. We have grown what was a modest federal Political Action Committee (PAC) into one of the top federal PACs in the nation.

Last election cycle, FIREPAC was in the top 1.1 percent of the more than 7,100 federally registered PACs in terms of dollars raised and was the 10th largest PAC in candidate contributions. It was also one of the most bi-partisan PACs.

In total, we spent close to $15 million in the last election cycle on behalf of federal candidates and both political parties, helping to elect those who support us and defeat those who oppose us.

But the attacks launched at our members since the November 2010 elections have changed the landscape.

Extreme right-wing conservative and so-called Tea Party politicians are coming after fire fighters, paramedics and all public workers with a vengeance across the United States. They are attempting to take away basic American rights like collective bargaining and your right to negotiate for a good quality of life for your families. They are working to eliminate your pensions and retirement security. They want to silence your voice by gagging you with legislation they call Paycheck Protection. They are taking away the long-held right of dues deductions from paychecks to try to weaken the finances of our union. They want to hurt all unions and drive down wages and benefits with Right-to-Work laws.

Not only are extremist Republicans trying to destroy us — too few Democrats are standing up and fighting for us.

Over the past two years, politicians from both parties have failed to address our issues in Washington, DC. Now, anti-labor members of Congress and their allies are championing measures that would undermine pension security, tax employer-sponsored health benefits, force newly hired fire fighters into Social Security and attack federal fire fighters. And with no pro-fire fighter legislation likely to be advanced in the 112th Congress – it’s time to take a stand.

With the survival of our union and the ability to preserve and protect the rights, wages and benefits our members deserve in jeopardy in the states, we have re-evaluated how to get the best results for our political dollars.

With the full support of our union’s Executive Board, we are turning off the spigot to federal candidates and federal parties, party committees and the super PACs that are created to support them.

Historically, FIREPAC has made most of its contributions to federal candidates. But it’s time to send a clear message to all politicians at every level that the support of this IAFF is not automatic. It must be earned.

The reputation of our members and our profession in the political arena must not be taken for granted. Our support comes with consequences for those who are working to kill this union, and we will hold accountable those supposed friends who don’t stand up for us.

Now more than ever, as our adversaries speak and act with a concerted, focused message, we need our friends to respond with similar strength and leadership to beat back the multi-faceted, well-organized assaults the right has launched at us – funded by anti-labor extremists like the multi-billionaire Koch brothers. And while we are fighting for our very survival, our friends aren’t doing enough to fight back — they don’t have our backs.

Re-focusing our work on the states will serve to bolster the “Fighting Back” campaign we have initiated. “Fighting Back” is a coordinated effort with our state and local affiliates involving various IAFF Divisions: Communications and Media, Government and Political Affairs, Safety and Health, Technical Assistance, GIS, EMS and Education.

Through this campaign, we have engaged in an internal and external effort to educate our members and the public on these misguided attacks – through television, newspaper, Internet and social media — to literally fight back with everything we have. For a complete explanation of the “Fighting Back” campaign, click here.

We know we have legislative fights, ballot measures and re-call elections that will require us to be on the offensive at the state and local level through this fall. I expect this strategic decision to focus our resources on state and local efforts, and the freezing of federal contributions, to last as long as the fights in the states remain at such a high level and until we see some real results and leadership from those in Washington, DC on our members’ behalf.

Sticking together and having each other’s backs is part of this great profession we call “the job.” It’s the core principle of our political work. And sticking to it is what will ensure that we ultimately prevail in the fights we face across America today.
In Solidarity,

Harold Schaitberger

Some may take this as an admission of defeat and to those who do I will say you may be right.  Please notice the comment about no legislation.  That is all they want, federal control. Take pride in your efforts to thwart federal control of union activity.  But what this really comes down to is a focus on the area where the IAFF can get hurt the most.   At the state and local level.

During the 2010 cycle with very little fanfare many state and local governments were transitioned from democrat to republican.  These local governments began the process of reducing spending and the single biggest expense of local government is salaries and benefits.  Folks like Walker in Wisconsin went far right and wanted to take his state to a right to work state and he also wanted to eliminate collective bargaining for benefits.  This did not sit well with the AFSCME and Teachers unions.   The truth of the matter was that Walker excluded the Firefighters and Police from the law.  But no matter, they jumped into the fray at the behest of the international.

Schaitberger himself went to Madison to rouse the rabble.  He talked of the evils of the plan and how the unions must help each other.  I am here to bear witness that there is no bigger hypocrite or political hack than Harold Schaitberger of the IAFF.  While Harold was in Madison crying about what was happening to the Teachers there, in the City of Philadelphia a Democrat mayor was cutting the bowels out of the Fire service.  Not just one Democrat Mayor but everyone since Frank Rizzo had taken a bite out of the Fire Service.   We need to be crystal clear here.  The city of Philadelphia ha not been in Republican control since 1952.  So any attempts to control union costs there have come from Democrats.  I implore all of my readers to find one time that Harold came to Philadelphia to stand up to the mayor the way he took on Scott Walker in Wisconsin.  He hasn’t.

In 1991 a guy you may have heard of named Ed Rendell was elected Mayor of Philadelphia.  Ed promptly began to gut union contracts.   This was back in 91!  As a member of that union then I remember worrying about how we would make ends meet with such a bad arbitration award.  Where was the IAFF?   Not making speeches about  union busting.  The story of the Philadelphia Fire Department gets worse at the hands of the Democrats but the unions will not talk about that.

One more point.  Schaitberger mentions the yellow and black being a…  Oh wait read it again:

Over the past decade, the symbolism of our profession and the image of our fire fighters and paramedics decked out in this union’s trademark gold and black have become one of the most sought after endorsements in politics at every level. We have grown what was a modest federal Political Action Committee (PAC) into one of the top federal PACs in the nation.

Really Harold  How powerful is your endorsement.  Well here are two losers backed by the IAFF:

Presidential candidate Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) won the prized endorsement of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), the union that  pushed Sen. John Kerry to the Democratic nomination four years ago, because of the proven leadership he offers to keep the country  safe and  America’s middle class secure.

While the IAFF getting out of the Federal Elections is a clear sign that the Tea party and middle America are not going to let Public Sector Unions run the show in Washington.   The unions by focusing all of OUR money on local elections are sending a message to people like Michael Nutter and Ed Rendell of Philadelphia.  As long as we get our dues you can do what you want to our members.  When are the union members going to wake up.



Filed under Unions

2 responses to “One Union is changing focus.

  1. MikeH

    Today the IAFF.

    Tomorrow the Mt. Holly PD!!


    • madmike59

      Would you agree that it is the voters choice here in NJ. In Philly they just elect and all is passed without voter consideration. While elcting the official is a vote for what they do there has not been any change in the stance of government in 59 years in the big city

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