The nationwide assault on IAFF members and other public employee unions continues across the country – from California to Maine – and the IAFF and its affiliates are more determined than ever to fight back.
Battles being waged this week include attacks threatening IAFF affiliates’ worker rights in Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma and New Hampshire.
In response to legislation passed late last year in the Alabama state legislature, the IAFF and two of its affiliates in Alabama – Decatur Local 1437 and Cullman Local 2644 – filed suit in federal district court in Huntsville challenging a law that restricts the collection of union dues. This week, Alabama fire fighters rallied with teachers to contest the state law they label an "anti-union attack" by a new Republican majority in Montgomery.
Act 76 makes it illegal to arrange for public employee payroll deductions for union dues unless the labor organization does not use the dues for “political activity” and defines that term so broadly that it includes even talking about candidates for state and local offices.
Legislation similar to Act 761 is appearing in legislative sessions in a number of other states, including Tennessee, where fire fighters and paramedics are facing a wave of political attacks from anti-worker lawmakers in the state General Assembly. IAFF affiliates in Tennessee are fighting legislators intent on doing nothing other than undermine unions and the ability to be engaged in the political process.
Just this week in New Hampshire, the state legislature stepped up its war against workers with a proposal to amend the state collective bargaining law that would turn all state workers into “at-will” employees after a contract expires. The proposed change in the collective bargaining law is just a slice of the hostility directed towards public employees and labor unions in New Hampshire, including efforts to dramatically cut pension benefits for fire fighters.
The IAFF and the Professional Fire Fighters of Oklahoma (PFFO) began airing advertisements this week asking voters to urge legislators to vote against Senate Bill 826, a measure that would destroy binding arbitration for fire fighters and paramedics. The ad, broadcast across the state, elicited an immediate response from the bill's author, Senator David Holt (R)-Oklahoma City, who demanded the union stop running the commercial in an effort to try to shift the debate away from his anti-worker legislation. The PFFO has no intention of pulling the ads, and issued this response.
The IAFF is planning similar advertisements in other states where changes to labor laws are being considered.
All broadcast and print ads produced as part of the IAFF’s national Fighting Back campaign are posted online, along with those created independently by IAFF locals.
The Fighting Back web site also includes related news, letters to the editor and press releases, as well as a number of tools and resources affiliates can use in their own efforts to fight these multifaceted attacks, including fact sheets, graphics and ways to add the Fighting Back campaign web site to their own web sites.
Additional information related to threats occurring throughout the United States is updated daily on the IAFF’s social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and the IAFF Frontline Blog.
The IAFF is asking members to help expand the reach of the Fighting Back campaign by growing the number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers. The new goal is to reach 15,000 Facebook fans.
Also, please encourage your family and friends to sign up through the Fighting Back web site to receive email updates about the IAFF’s and its affiliates’ Fighting Back efforts.
Watch your mail for a Special Edition of the International Fire Fighter magazine for a comprehensive look at the multiple threats IAFF affiliates face in state after state and how the IAFF is fighting back.
Be assured, the IAFF will continue to fight back against these politically motivated attacks by public officials who want to blame the recession on fire fighters and paramedics.