IAFF Freezes Federal FIREPAC
April 26, 2011 – Message from IAFF
General President Harold Schaitberger:
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
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
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,
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
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.