One week following the Firefighters’ union endorsement of former Vice President Joe Biden, thousands of union members push back.
Last week, as former Vice President Joe Biden announced his candidacy for President of the United States, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) made a formal endorsement of Biden’s candidacy.
“On behalf of the International Association of Fire Fighters, I’m proud to announce that we stand with Joe Biden and endorse his candidacy for president of the United States,” Harold Schaitberger, the IAFF’s general president, said in a video released early Monday.
According to the IAFF, the union’s Executive Board–who make decisions on IAFF members’ behalf decided on the Biden endorsement without polling all of its members, only those “likely to vote in their state’s Democratic presidential primary.”
“Based on his unequaled record on our union’s basket of issues and our long-standing core value of having our friends’ backs, the IAFF Executive Board – your elected representatives who make decisions on your behalf – has voted unanimously to endorse Joe Biden in his run for president of the United States in the Democratic primary,” the IAFF stated on its website.
“In addition, we did our due diligence and commissioned Zogby Strategies, a renowned national polling company, to conduct a poll targeting a sample of our 160,000 members who are likely to vote in their state’s Democratic presidential primary,” the IAFF explained. “With a margin of error of 2.6 percent, the results showed that Biden has a strong lead over all contenders in the Democratic primary.” [Emphasis added.]
If 2016 is any indication…
In 2016, the IAFF did not endorse any candidate for President. However, according to NBC News, at least 50% of the IAFF’s members voted for President Trump.
Given the nature of the IAFF’s membership, as well as the voting pattern of the union membership in the 2016 election, the IAFF leadership’s unilateral endorsement of Joe Biden has rankled many within the union.
The same day the IAFF endorsed Biden, a Facebook page called IAFF Firefighters for Trump was launched by firefighters.
Within a week, the page has garnered over 21,000 followers.
“Our movement evolved from dedicated IAFF members, frustrated with our leaderships exploitation of our political capital to promote a political candidate / party whose values run contrary to those of our own. A large majority of the IAFF’s membership feel as we do.
Many of the comments, while pro-union, are critical of the IAFF’s endorsement.
Some other comments take direct aim at the Harold Schaitberger, who made nearly $375,000 in 2018, the IAFF’s general president.
The comments were not isolated to Facebook. Members also voiced their disdain for the endorsement on Twitter as well.
Let’s make this clear for all the trump haters who claimed we backed sleepy @JoeBiden. The corrupt @IAFFNewsDesk might have backed him but the #IAFFUnionFirefightersforTRUMP have not!!! We are dead set against the Biden endorsement and we are fighting it!! #Trump2020 https://t.co/J9q49DfFBL
— Jd Kovar (@J_Kovar) May 4, 2019
— Bill Reese (@EngCo38) May 5, 2019
Republican Governor @GovRonDeSantis signs presumptive legislation into law for FL Firefighters. Note: the #iaff opposed DeSantis during his campaign, and endorsed his opponent. #firefightersfortrump @dbongino https://t.co/vP0KIzLP3T
— Kevin Nash (@TheKevinNash61) May 3, 2019
Despite irking many of his union’s members, Schaitberger is unlikely to change course on the union’s endorsement.
As the New York Times noted in 2015, Schaitsberger has “a close, longstanding relationship with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and has been courted aggressively by the campaign of Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom the union made initial plans to endorse before reversing course as a Biden candidacy loomed.”