From collective bargaining, dues check-off and wages, pensions, union security, benefits and worker rights, the political attacks on IAFF members and other public employee unions continue in state after state. The IAFF and its affiliates have worked hard to identify these threats and fight back like never before.
IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews April 1, reinforcing the message that the IAFF backs politicians who back fire fighters, regardless of party affiliation. “Our principles have always been straightforward and that’s that we will support those in the elected field who support us,” Schaitberger said.
“This is not about budgets and deficits," he added. "This is a fraud. This is about the right-wing of the GOP that sees an opportunity to make a power move to try to cripple our unions and take workers’ rights away. But what they are really doing is galvanizing our members.”
IAFF members are pushing back and pushing back hard - in Ohio, Michigan, New Hampshire and Florida, to name just a few states.
Ohio Governor John Kasich and the GOP-controlled legislature passed SB 5, legislation that eliminates bargaining rights that have been in place since 1983. Now IAFF members and the rest of labor are ready to wage an expensive referendum campaign to beat back this attack. On April 7, the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters (OAPFF) voted unanimously to assess OAPFF members $100 to build a $1 million war chest to repeal SB 5. IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger attended the meeting, which was held in Columbus.
In New Hampshire, where the state legislature is pushing a proposal to amend the state collective bargaining law to dramatically roll back collective bargaining rights and make all state workers at-will employees after a contract expires, IAFF members are fighting back.
In Florida, lawmakers in the House want to gut unions by curbing their ability to collect dues through automatic paycheck deductions, forcing them to get written permission from each member before making political contributions and calling for unions that fall below a certain level of membership to be stripped of collective bargaining rights. The state legislature also wants to change the way the Florida Retirement System (FRS) is funded - even though it's fully funded.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce aired this commercial featuring public employees - including fire fighters - in an outrageously misleading attempt to urge voters to support paycheck protection legislation. The Florida Professional Firefighters (FPF) was quick to rebut the commercial in the media and is preparing to air ads in Tallahassee.
The Michigan Professional Fire Fighters Union (MPFFU) will be releasing video ads in select markets that ask voters to help stop the state legislature from passing a number of anti-worker, anti-union bills, including HB 4205 which proposes to repeal binding arbitration for fire and police. The MPFFU is also producing a video to expose the dangerous and irresponsible practice of combining fire and police departments into a single Public Safety Office (PSO).
Elsewhere, IAFF affiliates are showing the public who the real enemies are in this political struggle. For example, the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona released this video to battle vicious attacks, including SB 1609, a bill that threatens pay and benefits, and developed a web site to dispel myths about public safety workers’ salaries and gain both public and legislative support.
This video, released by San Mateo County, CA Local 2400 and the Redwood City Fire Department, features testimonials from community members about the important work fire fighters perform every day. Fire fighters plan to have the clip shown in local movie theaters.
The IAFF and its affiliates are prepared to fight back in other states where changes to labor laws are being considered. The IAFF has developed this interactive map that affiliates can use to track attacks related to collective bargaining, dues deduction, paycheck protection, political rights, Right to Work legislation and pensions, as well as monitor proposed or potential ballot measures.
Additional information related to threats occuring throughout the United States is available on the IAFF's Fighting Back campaign web site.
The Fighting Back web site also includes a number of tools and resources affiliates can use in their own efforts to fight these multifaceted attacks, including fact sheets, graphics and ways to add the Fighting Back campaign web site to their own web sites.
The IAFF is asking members to help expand the reach of the Fighting Back campaign by growing the number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers. The new goal is to reach 15,000 Facebook fans.
Also, please encourage your family and friends to sign up through the Fighting Back web site to receive email updates about the IAFF’s and its affiliates’ Fighting Back efforts.
The next issue of the International Fire Fighter magazine is focused exclusively on the challenges that IAFF members face and the battles being waged. Watch your mail for this comprehensive look at the multiple threats IAFF affiliates face in state after state and how the IAFF is fighting back.
And keep us up to date on how you are fighting these attacks – email email@example.com.
Wherever they happen, and however long it takes, the IAFF will continue to defend its members against these attacks and fight to keep what this union has worked hard to achieve.