To All IAFF Affiliate Leaders:
No one knows better than all of you that this union and our members have been under attack for a number of years now. Scott Walker, John Kasich, Chris Christie, their wealthy friends John Arnold, the Koch brothers, the Ricketts and many more are all on the offensive against us. And the policy groups they’ve bought off like ALEC, PEW and others bash unions every chance they get.
Whether it’s them taking on our locals and members in Boston, Philadelphia, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Chicago, St. Louis, Phoenix, San Jose or all the way up to Anchorage, those who want us out of the picture spend their billions to convince the media that powerful unions representing government workers are the reason for the financial crisis in their towns.
They call our members greedy. They call this IAFF greedy. They say our members don’t deserve the pensions they earn and sacrifice for. They demonize union leaders. They say that unions have too much power and influence. You've heard it all.
I want all of you to know this: I am very proud of what we have built. And I agree with them that we ARE a powerful union.
We fight way above our weight class. The Washington Post and CNN are taking note of our connections at the highest political and governmental levels.
Even the New York Times recognizes our successes. Yes, it attempts to take me and our Executive Board to task for doing business at the highest level in ways that have made us the effective union that we are. But it also clearly recognizes what we have all built together. It says we are much more powerful than a union our size should be.
I know there will be a number of different interpretations of this story inside and outside our union. I also know that many of you have been attacked in the press before for doing your work. They call us names and question how we do business, not because what we do is illegal or wrong, but because we are effective and those who are against us just don’t like it that we are a very effective union.
There will always be critics. Even inside of our house. But I will continue to engage and bring our affiliate leadership together for intimate discussions and personal/private time together, whether outside of Washington, DC when I'm on the road, or inside DC when they are here to discuss and focus on the business of our members’ livelihoods, jobs and future.
Our members risk their lives in service to the public – and for that sacrifice, we give them the very best representation. There’s no union that fights harder, smarter or better than this one at every level - local, state, provincial or federal.
And we do NOT apologize for being powerful or for doing business in a way that gets the job done for our members who are out there on the frontlines every day for their communities and countries.
I know I speak for our entire Executive Board when I say we will not do our jobs in a way that gives our members second class representation. We are professionals. And we will continue to be professionals when we do our work in city halls, state legislatures and provincial bodies, governors’ and premiers’ mansions, in Congress, Parliament, the White House and 24 Sussex. And the way we have done our business has put us on the level of the biggest power players in the U.S. and Canada. Our members deserve the best representation in the world and we will continue to deliver that as best we can.
Harold A. Schaitberger