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The IAFF and Harold Schaitberger
Part 2- Harold delivers on his promise
By: Dan Schrader Ex-IAFF Local 67 member

In September 2003, Harold Schaitberger announced that the International Association of Firefighters would be backing John Kerry in his bid for the Presidency of the United States. The IAFF was the first union to announce their support of any of the candidates. This was typical of Schaitberger's approach to political campaigns. The IAFF was one of the first unions to endorse Al Gore in the 2000 election.

But how did the IAFF decide who they were going to support? Many in the public would believe that the members were given the opportunity to voice their opinion. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Seattle Times wrote “The [IAFF's] Kerry endorsement came after a survey of union members.” I have yet to talk to one member that received any such survey. I thought that maybe it was just sent to officials of the locals, but I was just told by a local president that he had received nothing from the IAFF in the form of a survey prior to the endorsement. So, who were the individuals filling out these “surveys??" I have heard there were 800 participants, but I have not found one.

I have found, however, that it was not really a “survey” in the usual sense. What these elusive members were given was not a list of candidates, but they were asked about what “attributes” they would like to see in a President.

How convenient is that for a man like Harold Schaitberger? After sending out a “survey” for his political cover, Harold Schaitberger then gets to decide which candidate fulfills the list of attributes these members desire.

In the Seattle Times article, Schaitberger admits that the union never really considered endorsing President Bush's re-election, even though more of the members identified themselves as Republicans than Democrats or Independents. Schaitberger also claimed that the IAFF is “really bi-partisan in our politics”, although 83 percent of the $1.8 MILLION dollars it spent in 2002 went to Democrats.

So why John Kerry? Besides being a “longtime friend” of Kerry's, Schaitberger points out that it is Kerry's support of firefighter's issues. Schaitberger, who blasted President Bush and his campaign for using 2 seconds of 9-11 images in an ad, would probably point to Kerry's sponsoring of the Father Mychal Judge Act, which would use federal funds to assist local governments in the hiring of up to 100,000 firefighters. At the end of 4 years of decreasing assistance in paying for these firefighters, the local governments would be left to fully fund firefighters it probably couldn't afford in the first place.

Bill Clinton's 100,000 COPS plan did the same for local government, which I believe is at least in part to blame for the local governments having to cut funding for their fire departments. They don't dare politically to lay off police officers.

Schaitberger goes on national television to decry the President's “trading on the heroism” of the firefighters, while Kerry and his campaign (of which he is co-chairman), cynically trades upon the name and heroism of Father Judge to buy the support of firefighters.

Who knows whether Father Judge would have approved of this bill ?? Without knowing the answer to that question it is certainly not fair to his memory to use his name in this manner. It is possible that Father Judge would believe that money would be better spent fighting terrorism, so we don't need 100,000 more firefighters to clean up the aftermath of another attack.

Schaitberger makes sure that wherever Kerry goes he is surrounded by the infamous yellow and black T-shirts emblazoned “Firefighters for Kerry.” Paul Begala, one of Bill Clinton's advisor's, said of the firefighters standing behind Kerry…….. “It looks like a Chippendales' calendar." Hmmmmm…. that statement may say more about Paul Begala than it does about Kerry.

Two days after the September 11th tragedy, Sen. Ted Kennedy, along with the support of John Kerry, tried to sneak through the Senate on unanimous consent a bill called the Public Safety Employer-Employee Co-operation Act. This IAFF-pushed legislation was one of the largest power grabs by the unions ever attempted. It would have forced police and firefighters to accept union representation whether they wanted it or not. Who is “trading on the heroism” of the fallen firefighters of 9-11 ?? The answer is obvious.

Kerry's latest ads show him emerging from the jungles of Southeast Asia. Does Harold have the same objection to Kerry's ad that he had for President Bush's? Kerry is a man not only trading on the lives of 343 firefighters, but will now trade on the lives of the 58,000 soldiers that were killed in Viet Nam. John Kerry was in-country for 4 months, received 3 purple hearts that may have cost him a total of two days off duty, and upon receiving the third purple heart, this “hero” used an obscure Navy regulation that allowed someone with three purple hearts to transfer home.

Kerry took advantage of that regulation to leave the real heroes behind to fight, while he came home and started trashing them as baby killing, village burning rapists. I will give him his due for his service, but John Kerry is no hero.

So what does Harold Schaitberger have to gain from taking the IAFF in a direction in which I believe he, himself, realizes that the membership most likely does not agree with?? Is he standing up for what he knows is right for the members?? Is he just boldly going where no man has gone before?? Is he truly courageous in his support for John Kerry? Is this a heroic stand by a man of principle, standing by his core convictions???

You decide.

After being the first union to endorse Kerry, Schaitberger was named Co-Chairman of the Kerry Campaign.

After Kerry had won primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, Schaitberger was named to head up the AFL-CIO's new strategy committee. I wonder if that pays extra on top of Schaitberger's $211,000.00* salary as head of the IAFF.

John Sweeny, president of the AFL-CIO, after naming Schaitberger to the new post said “Schaitberger will be the only guy in the White House with keys to the executive bathroom." (where he will probably spend a lot of his time after his daily round of butt smooching)

This is just one more reason for not wanting to see a “President Kerry:" Harold Schaitberger will be certainly given a position in a Kerry administration that will allow him to sell out the whole country………… not just the firefighters.

Dan Schrader

Editorial Notes:
*2002 figures, after a 12.5 % increase from 2001……who is cashing in on 9-11 ???

The membership of the IAFF has been sold out by Harold Schaitberger. I made the decision to get out after 26 years because I will not see my dollars spent in this way. I don't recommend that for everyone, because I realize everyone's personal situation in their organization is different.

But a statement needs to be made by the members one way or the other. If you can't take their money away, at least let them know in no uncertain terms that you are disgusted with the current leadership. You can write them from the . (http://www.iaff.org - click “site index”, then “contact us”)