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IAFF Endorses AFL-CIO President for Re-Election

Source: IAFF

The General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO/CLC, Harold Schaitberger, issued this statement today on the leadership of the AFL-CIO:

The AFL-CIO has suffered a reduction of influence and power. The reasons are varied, but two stand out: shifts in the types of employment and the globalization of not just our economy but of workplaces and workforces.

"In order to be relevant once again, the leaders of our Federation and its affiliates have been engaged in a debate over how to restructure, retool, and change the direction, strategies and operations of the AFL-CIO. That debate has been mostly very productive and constructive.

"Throughout this debate, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney has remained focused on the changes that need to be made. He has consistently risen above the negative fray of personal attacks. His focus has remained on the need for labor to emerge energized, and with a unity of purpose.

"Above all else, President Sweeney has remained firmly on the side of solidarity. He knows that the combination of our resources and power are the engines that will drive our movement through these trying times. Throughout this debate, President Sweeney has once again proved that he is the person to lead the Federation, particularly during this crucial period of reform. He is the leader to position our united movement to regain our place in the national debate.

"The IAFF has been and will continue to carefully weigh the issues in this reform discussion. However, the person to lead that discussion remains clear. Following several meetings with President Sweeney and his embrace of key issues that the IAFF believes must be at the core of the reform, the IAFF's Executive Board unanimously voted to endorse John Sweeney for re-election as president of the AFL-CIO.

"President Sweeney's willingness to find the most effective strategies and structures to reinvigorate our Federation are shown in his commitment to embrace ideas and concepts that are completely different than the approach taken by the AFL-CIO to date. He has shown a willingness to effectively re- tool the Federation to create an efficient, effective and lean operation with an agenda focused on a core of critical, strategically targeted responsibilities.

"As part of the evolving reform process, President Sweeney has recently embraced the belief within the IAFF that winning new union members and legislative and political battles requires a mix of message and motivation.

"Specifically, President Sweeney has committed to shift the Federation's political and legislative direction. While the AFL-CIO will continue to support and maintain relationships with those Democrats who have historically and continuously supported the goals of our movement, it will also build bridges over party lines to Republicans who can be with us on selected issues. This strategy will enable us to become more non-partisan, focusing our efforts on building worker majorities, not party majorities, in our legislative bodies.

"President Sweeney has also renewed his commitment to refocus the AFL- CIO's communications resources and efforts. This shift will not change the fact that individual Federation union affiliates will continue to be responsible for tailoring the message to their current and prospective members in organizing and political campaigns.

"The new focus will mean that the AFL-CIO will change from primarily getting its message out through internal communications vehicles, to delivering clear, concise messages using contemporary media, the internet and other emerging technologies -- where most current and potential members and voters get the news and information that shapes their views -- helping us make the labor movement relevant to their everyday lives.

"President Sweeney has also committed to all affiliates that his reform planning and implementation will continue to evolve. He is a leader who will work to embrace and implement ideas throughout his term of leadership. These ideas will ensure the Federation reaches its potential to organize effectively, elect worker-friendly politicians, get pro-worker laws passed, and make our movement's message relevant to all workers now and in the future. And we continue to support his leadership."

The IAFF has successfully employed a non-partisan approach to politics by setting its political and legislative agenda and priorities based on the interests of its members, not the interest of any political party or specific candidate, and by reaching out to elected officials on an issue-by-issue basis. The IAFF's legislative "score card" recognizes that very few politicians can or will ever achieve a 100 percent voting record on our issues. Rather, it focuses on embracing a pragmatic approach to lobbying, attempting to build different coalitions of support on each legislative priority.

The IAFF's Political Action Committee, FIREPAC, is currently one of the Top 25 PACs among the more than 4,000 registered in the nation. In the last election cycle, FIREPAC contributed fully one-third of its funds to Republican candidates, significantly more than any other major national union.


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