December 19, 2011
Dear Affiliate Leaders,
Back in April of this year, as our entire union was faced with an all out, coordinated, well-financed assault launched by extreme right-wing conservative politicians, our union’s Executive Board voted to make a strong statement -- to our enemies and to those so-called “friends” who were not standing with us in the trenches, helping us fight back -- by cutting off our federal political contributions.
At that time, we also made the strategic decision to re-focus our political resources to fight those battles in the states where the survival of our union was being threatened and where the rights, wages and benefits of our members were being attacked.
We made it clear that we would continue the freeze on federal contributions until we saw some real results and leadership from those in Washington, DC on our members’ behalf.
We made a principled stand and sent a strong message that was heard loud and clear on Capitol Hill and in the White House that the support of this IAFF is not automatic. It must be earned.
Since then, we have continued our “Fighting Back” campaign efforts at every level of our union. And we have seen over the last few months a number of our friends step up, stand with us and fight alongside of us.
Our friends, both Republican and Democrat, have worked to restore the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) waivers that were lost during the House/Senate conference on H.R. 1 back in February. Because of their efforts, I am proud to say that between FY 2011 and FY 2012, we will have $730 million that translate into almost 7,000 jobs to bring laid-off fire fighters back to work, prevent future layoffs and fill positions that have been left vacant.
Our friends are also fighting to re-authorize the SAFER and Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE Act) programs, which have pumped billions into the fire service over the past decade.
They are finally acting on the proposal to allocate “D” Block spectrum to improve interoperability and overall communications for the fire service – which will mean at least another $7.5 billion investment in public safety.
Specific to the IAFF, a coalition of Democratic and Republican members is championing our union’s HAZMAT and WMD training grants. They successfully fought off mandatory Social Security coverage proposals and the taxation of employer-sponsored health care.
Democratic House leadership held a Washington, DC rally to focus on the attacks that were taking place at the state level and now are engaging in the Wisconsin recall efforts. The Democratic Governors Association and individual members of the House wrote checks to the “We Are Ohio” campaign, attended and spoke at rallies, marches and other events helping to produce a great victory for our members and all of Ohio’s public employees last month.
Simply put, many of our friends listened and acted. They are now fighting back on behalf of our members.
So, again with the full support of the IAFF Executive Board, we have decided to begin turning the spigot back on for those who have had our backs – regardless of political party
But this is not going to be “business as usual.” We will continue to focus our work to bolster our Fighting Back campaign efforts in the states, where we know the attacks will continue when legislatures re-convene in 2012.
The contributions we will now begin to make to federal candidates, parties, committees and Super PACs from our FIREPAC will only go to those who take the lead on issues critical to our members; to help friends win open seats; and for races that give us the best strategic opportunity to take out one of our enemies
We will continue to make it clear that our support must be earned and we will hold accountable those who don’t stand up for us.
Working together over the last decade, 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 terms of candidate contributions. It was also one of the most bi-partisan PACs.
Going forward, we will continue to use the symbolism of our profession and the image of our members along with this union’s trademark gold and black “IAFF Fire Fighters For” only for those who truly deserve our support.
Sticking together and having each other’s backs is part of this great profession we call “the job.” It’s also the core principle of our political work. Staying true to our principles, will ensure that we prevail in the fights we face today