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Firefighter Union President Should Listen to All Members
Duane A. Trautman

As I filed away another paycheck stub last evening, I took notice to the growing list of deductions. Some of the numbers get higher and higher and I am forced to wonder if I am getting a good value for my hard earned money. I am happy with my county taxes as our county commissioners wrestle with a deficit; I am not pleased with Governor Rendell's plans for my state tax; the federal tax always seems high, but I am now enjoying a much lower tax bracket then before. But union dues?

Newspapers have been wrought with headlines that firefighters are angry with President Bush and his new campaign ads. The word “firefighter” is always a good headline and the reading public is drawn to read about these noble servants. Me too.

International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) President Harold Schaitberger's scathing criticisms of the President could easily lead one to believe that President Bush hates firemen. I really don't like when a difference in opinion turns into attacks on a person's character, patriotism, or being. Most of all, I really dislike that kind of message being distributed by an organization that says it represents me.

So here we are, once again, the IAFF has squarely put their support behind a Democrat. When was the last time the IAFF polled their members? When was the last time the IAFF realized that these rotten, vicious attacks do not represent an unknown segment of their membership? When was the last time the Firefighter newsletter published a letter from a disgruntled member rather than all these fuzzy, feel-good messages? I am sick and tired of being misrepresented by the leadership of the IAFF in the public eye.

I'd like to find one American that was not looking over his or her shoulder on September 12, 2001. I was and today remain thankful that another attack has not occurred on our soil. President Bush has every right to remind our United States of the devastation and insecurity that followed September 11, 2001. It was his steady leadership and his cabinet choices that kept our country safe then and now. Those attacks on our citizens were a defining moment in the storied history of our nation. All of us knew that life would never be the same.

Responding to an automatic fire alarm a few hours after the twin towers unbelievably collapsed, I viewed the public frozen in their steps to watch fire trucks carrying firemen to a destination unknown. I'll never forget how stunned they looked and how numb I was. We all mourned for the lost firemen of New York. We all mourned for the lost citizens of the world. We would later mourn our loss of security.

Schaitberger's statements accusing our President Bush of using the 2001 catastrophe for political gain are a disgrace. Was Schaitberger simply waiting for the Bush-Cheney campaign to use September 11th in an ad or did he want to use it first?

I am ever thankful that George W. Bush was our Commander-in-Chief that awful day. The country and world looked to him for guidance, peace, and strength. He delivered and I'll never forget it. I know in my heart that all firemen of the IAFF are true patriots and love this country with all of their red, white, and blue soul.

Schaitberger should stick to the issues. We all pay dues and have expectations.

And I wish we had the voluntary choice to pay our dues. Or not to.

Duane A. Trautman
IAFF Local 1952