Response to IAFF – Township of Langley “Firefighters were hired to Serve and Protect… NOT TO SERVE AND ELECT!”

Posted: October 13, 2018 in Uncategorized

So readers of this BLOG will have read my previous BLOG Post titled Township of Langley “Firefighters were hired to Serve and Protect… NOT TO SERVE AND ELECT!” This issue is a very contentious issue with residents of the Township and frankly most communities in B.C., it is very unfair to taxpayers / voters as well as candidates who have been willing to put their names forward for consideration –

The following response was posted the other night which presumably outlines the position of the IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) with respect to their involvement in politics at all levels. I am taking their response below and will respond to their position in RED (My response) and you can decide for yourself. Now remember our very strong objection is their selection of which candidates to endorse with no rationale given for their reasons and their public advertising campaign in support of their chosen candidates.

From what we have been able to determine, the choices have been made for a reason still yet to be identified. Just ask yourself the question, for what reason would the firefighters give this kind of support UNLESS there was an agreement to receive something back in kind? There whole process smacks of a hidden deal / agenda in favor of something? What is it? Do you want your council members to be in a position of owing their election to the firefighters for their support? Remember Council ultimately is the body to approve their labor contract! Council is elected to represent ALL taxpayers – not members of a union, because that is what this is, nothing more, nothing less!

 

From Justin Smith IAFF (International Association of Firefighters) 3:07pm Oct 9

Fortunately for some of us the IAFF is a little more open minded and democratic than others. Political action equals: legislation to cover firefighters who suffer from PTSD, coverage for job related cancers, funds for task forces that go across Canada and other places to secure and help people during floods, earthquakes, forest fires etc. The funding for these things will not just be kindly offered to Fire Depts. they must be constantly fought for and that means political action.

Response: “95%” or more of ALL candidates running support ALL of the above!   

IAFF Endorsement Philosophy
The IAFF believes, respects and celebrates the absolute right of every IAFF member to vote for the candidate that he or she feels best represents and embraces that individual’s views and political philosophy. No one, including your union, has a right to tell you how to vote.

Response: We totally agree!

Similarly, the IAFF will never criticize any member for his or her choice of candidate. We recognize that there are many issues that are important to all IAFF members – beyond fire service and labor issues, and the IAFF respects its members’ right to vote for candidates who have not won the endorsement of the IAFF or your local affiliate.

Response: We totally agree!

However, just like IAFF members review the history, positions and platform of each candidate and make a decision based on that information, so does the IAFF.

This union views candidates through a very narrow focus. Decisions are predicated on how candidates stand on fire fighter and labor issues, such as collective bargaining rights, protection of fair labor standards (FLSA) and overtime rights, pay fairness and equity for federal fire fighters, presumption of disability for federal fire fighters, funding for first responder initiatives, full funding of the FIRE Act and SAFER programs, protection of pension and Social Security benefits, and protection and extension of health care benefits for active and retired members, to name a few.

Response: “95%” or more of ALL candidates running support ALL of the above! 


These are the types of issues that IAFF FIREPAC focuses on when making decisions on whether or not to support a candidate. IAFF FIREPAC does not and will not base its decisions on issues such as Second Amendment rights, reproductive rights, the environment or other social issues that many of our members hold firm beliefs about.

Response: “95%” or more of ALL candidates running support ALL of the above! 

The IAFF has one mission: to improve the lives and livelihoods of professional fire fighters. We know that one of the most important ways we represent our members is in the legislatures at all levels of government – because that’s where most of the decisions are made that have an impact on our members and their jobs. That’s why we play hard in politics – so that we help get people elected who will push our legislative agenda forward. In that role, this union is an advocacy group similar to the NRA, Christian Coalition, Sierra Club, Chamber of Commerce, National League of Cities, etc. Our range of issues is very specific. No one should expect or accept it if the NRA based endorsements on fire fighter bargaining rights. Likewise, no one expects the Christian Coalition to base its support of candidates on funding the FIRE Act or SAFER grants. Consequently, no one should expect the IAFF to base its endorsement on anything other than its specific set of issues.

Response: Clearly the IAFF is based on the U.S. form and style of government, never the less there is and was nothing in questionnaires distributed to candidates in our Municipal Election Campaign that dealt with any of the above. So again, what was said and by who which made this local union decide against endorsing them? I would suggest very strongly there was nothing! Jack Froese was apparently not at this meeting!

While you may personally disagree with an IAFF endorsement and believe that another candidate better represents your own viewpoint on issues important to you, please be mindful that the IAFF endorsement is about the candidate’s stance on fire service and labor issues. And, just like the IAFF respects your right to vote for the candidate of your choosing, we ask for the same respect concerning the IAFF’s duty to make its endorsement based on fire service, employment, safety and health and labor issues that directly affect our members’ lives and livelihood.

Response: Bingo, I think we are on to something – repeat “please be mindful that the IAFF endorsement is about the candidate’s stance on fire service and labor issues.” So we now know that their endorsement is based on support for fire service, all candidates agree, and labor issues, all candidates agree, so then to the elephant in the room – What separated those selected vs those not selected? Answer – nothing other than an obvious unwritten agreement with the majority selected. If I am wrong, tell the public what separated those selected verses those not selected?    

In any union, association or even political party, when an organization endorses a particular candidate or a specific position on any issue, not everyone who is a member is in agreement. In fact, almost every time an endorsement is made, there is disagreement – but it’s usually based on personal political leanings or how one values certain issues. People are entitled to and respect their right to disagree and express their own opinions.

Response: It states above “when an organization endorses a particular candidate or a specific position on any issue”? Our complaint is about endorsing a slate of candidates NOT an individual candidate or a specific position on any issue!

Politics within the IAFF is an issue of mutual respect. The IAFF respects its members’ right to vote for whomever they choose, and we hope you respect the IAFF’s right to endorse candidates, regardless of party, who have demonstrated their support for the IAFF and professional fire fighters. The IAFF also respects the right of state and individual affiliates to endorse the candidate they believe will best represent their membership at the state and local level.

Response: “Politics within the IAFF is an issue of mutual respect.” Well the IAFF should extend their belief in MUTUAL RESPECT to residents and taxpayers of the Township of Langley. There is absolutely NO ISSUE with firefighters promoting their preferred candidates within their membership, that is a given. Communicate with all members through membership channels of communication, direct mail and others. Volunteer on your own time to support candidates of your choice by all means, but not in the form of Public Advertising that misleads the public as to the reason for its selection, that crosses the line and borders on FRAUD!

In Summary:

There are only TWO key questions surrounding the activities of our Township of Langley Firefighters that are seriously objectionable and bring the potential for some behind the scenes agreement of some nature into question:

How and on what basis were endorsed candidates selected? What were the differences between any and ALL candidates in this election? They owe it to the public to make that public! 

Publicly advertising a SLATE of Candidates on widely distributed 4 by 8 signs plus advertising those endorsed candidates in local newspaper ads stating these candidates support Public Safety given the known positions of ALL candidates is a fraudulent statement; unless of course you can make public the differences that you may have uncovered? Absent that clarification the firefighters are doing a disservice to all taxpayers in the Township of Langley. 

I have gone through the policy of the IAFF as it affects each IAFFs individual union locals guidelines as to it involves local, provincial and national politics. For the most part it is straight forward and understandable as it affects their livelihood, health and welfare. All professions look after their professional needs through professional associations.

Unfortunately the IAFF leaves open the opportunity for local interpretation of their policy as it relates to political campaigns. In our case their involvement does cross the line of fairness to taxpayers!

Nowhere in their policy does it state that their members should PUBLICLY ENDORSE and extensively advertise a slate of candidates. You remember the comment mentioned above about respect? “The IAFF respects its members’ right to vote for whomever they choose?”  The residents / taxpayers of the Township of Langley deserve that same respect and be allowed unimpeded or influenced by outside forces of self-interest groups / unions to make their own decision!

RG

Stay tuned for discussion of top of mind topics that directly affect us in the Township of Langley and our region to be published in the months ahead and much more….!

Protect your Democratic Rights – Protect your NEIGHBORS Democratic Rights – stay informed, stay involved and VOTE!!!

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Comments
  1. George B says:

    A very good read would be for your readers the article on ,Globe and Mail by Margaret Wente.
    Published in ,May 8 2013.
    Also the readers would be wise to find out the settlements Firefighters got in Vancouver and Surrey after they ….by “luck” endorsed “Comrade” Robertson and Diane Watts???
    I think they endorsed Heppner too….
    Amazing how they endorse only winners.
    Self important people (like them),are also SELF SERVING.
    And yes they went after the Paramedics.
    Amazing this politicians that actually need paramedics…..they hire firefighters…and train them to be “medics”…..Shame!!!
    Imagine if the tables were turned ….the noise from our “heroes”.
    If the taxpayer actually knew how much it cost in firefighters wages….and Pensions.
    Taxes are going up and up.
    One of the biggest accomplishments of Mayor Froese.
    Vote him a couple more times and you can see your taxes double ,since he was first elected!!!!

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