Was It Something I said?

I couldn't help noticing that I was dropped from the IAFF Blog Roll yesterday.

Our union theoretically promotes vigorous free workplace speech as a crucial way to protect union members but when confronted with the opportunity to welcome a dissenting opinion on our beloved IAFF and to put theory into practice, it's apparently "verboten time."  

This blog is not the New York Times, in fact, more people probably had open heart surgery yesterday than read anything I wrote.  Dropping me demonstrates the lack of principal around defending free speech (even when it smarts a bit.) It makes our union weaker rather than stronger and is evidence of hypocrisy.

Is the IAFF Executive Board in favor of stifling free and healthy communication?  If so, our management enemies will have a FIELD DAY, as we, no pun intended, speak from both sides of our mouths on the most important of issues.

Who knew I struck such terror in the heart's of men.

Heart of the Matter

Heart of the Matter

Noam Chomsky said, "The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion but allow very lively debate within that spectrum."  He is right.  Restrict what people are allowed to discuss and you control them completely. Force them to stay on the allowed script.

I'll skip the roll call of dictators but you can be sure that every fascist and totalitarian regime crushes dissent and honest communication as a way of consolidating power. It's Tyranny 101.

I have been a union firefighter for 37 years, the last 15 of those as a retiree.  I continue to pay dues and I think I should pay more for the privilege of being in the IAFF.  I want a strong and vigorous IAFF.  Speaking out does not make me disloyal, quite the opposite.

Once I was an aggressive young affiliate labor leader in a notorious Right-to-Work-State.  I said what I thought needed to be said regardless of the consequences.  I was never censored, never spiked. I did lose a pay raise or two. (Frankly, a large measure of credit goes to Warren Isman and Glenn Gaines, fire chiefs who believed in robust free debate. I'm sure they didn't always like it but they knew it was essential for a healthy organization.)

How ironic that I survived Right-to-Work only to have my union pull the plug on me or that fire chiefs actually protected my right to speak out.

That says a lot about where we are headed.

None of it is good.

If this is important to you, hit "Like" at the top of the page and pass it on.

Don't worry, they'll come for me first.



  • Paul Hoffman says:

    E ~ Fromage with your wine today?  Yes Sir.

  • Mike says:

    Let's invite joe B and the Prez over and talk about it over a bottle wine. All kidding aside you are 100 % right in both posting!


  • Tim says:

    "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. "
    ~E.B. Hall, commonly misattributed to Voltaire

    Except in this case, I approve. I've been leery ever since they offered a credit card.

  • Mike Schwartz says:

    What is the IAFF afraid of?  This is really shocking to me.  I am not a union member but a long time union defender.   It is not the kind of action that I have defended and voted for all these years.  I prefer to believe that it is reflective of only one insecure organization or arrogant leadership, or sadly, both.  


  • David B.. says:

    Myopic at best and a self-inflicted wound.  But keep at it Brother.  John Milton said it best: "And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so truth be in the field we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength."

  • Victoria Huckenpahler says:

    I'm with you all the way, Eric, as would be the Founders.  Political correctness has already robbed our society of much of its free speech; we don't need IAFF furthering this disturbing trend.  I am saddened and concerned for our country.

    Remember, folks:"The triumph of evil occurs when good men remain silent."


  • Henry LaHaie says:

    Eric –   You have always called it like it is.  The IAFF’s actions are simply unacceptable.

  • Dennis says:

    After working for the IAFF's political appointee to the current admin, they did you a favor by putting you on double secret probation.  During her time as a seat filler she really cared about the career employees…………NOT!!!!  Geez some example of a union person looking out for the rank and file.

  • Marc Monahan says:

    You should see what happens when you report blatant fraud, theft and coverup. The whole organization, including the state and provincial association black balls you and your local.  Most of the leaders I've run across are more concerned with protecting their positions instead of representing their members.  It's a sad state of affairs. 

  • Roland says:

    Eric, are you off your meds again? You know what that does to your perspective.

    You have neglected to mention that all the proceeds of this reprehensible "selling" go directly to the IAFF Charitable Foundation, not some despot fat cat's pockets as you subtly suggest. Are you attacking the Charitable Foundation too?

    Selling the logo is nothing new. Remember the Lionstone logos filled with Jim Beam? Or the fire fighter rescuing a child decanters? Oh, the horror of commercialization! That was over thirty years ago.

    As far as elitist leadership, ya gotta have long legs to run with the big dogs. In case you haven't noticed, the Washington power clique doesn't pay much attention to WV rednecks like you and me.

    Out of touch? Depends on your issue, doesn't it? I've seen the current leadership support you on issues (dear to your heart) that many of our less progressive members find controversial. They do it because it's the right thing to do.

    btw… I can't find the link to the IAFF blog on this page. Can you point it out to me, please?

    • Eric Lamar says:


      Thanks for writing.

      I am charging you with McCarthyism though not the type you may think.  Yours would be of the Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy type where Bergen has Charlie do the talking for him.

      Be assured I am on my meds, but thanks so much for asking. The primary difference between me and many other folks is that I am crazy, but I know it.

      Regarding Lionstone decanters 30 years ago, I am aware of it, I actually have one.  But, does the fact that it was done before make it a good idea?  Thalidomide was a good idea 50 years ago; lynching blacks was a good idea 100 years ago.  

      Regarding the sacrosanct  IAFF foundation, tell me more.  Release a detailed history of income, expenses and partnerships. What percentage of the $99.99 wine set makes its way to the foundation?  Has Armida Winery provided any incentives (free wine, etc.) to anyone at the IAFF?  Tell us about the process used to select them.

      You say, “As far as elitist leadership, ya gotta have long legs to run with the big dogs. In case you haven’t noticed, the Washington power clique doesn’t pay much attention to WV rednecks like you and me.”   Your statement (or in this case, Edgar’s,) proves the mindset that once out of the firehouse you are part of the “power clique of Washington” and subject to another set of rules.  Thank you for that frank admission.  That is why the American people despise Washington, Congress and most politicians:  for being utterly out-of-touch and corrupt and not even realizing it.

      You mention supporting me on issues “that many of our less progressive members find controversial” yet you lack the forthrightness to name one.  If you were supporting me you should be proud to list those areas unless in not naming them you thought you achieved some tactical advantage over me.

      I challenge you here to name that issue or admit that you are engaging in crude black mail. 

      I am not the “sharpest tool in the shed” and it never occurred to me to have an IAFF link on my blog page.  Your suggestion is superb and it has been added.  As an IAFF member for 37 years, since I was nineteen years old, I love my union and am happy to do so.

      Your bringing up the meds and the “dear to my heart controversial issue” comment are examples of cheap personal attack tactics that only work against someone who is afraid of losing something.  I am not afraid, quite the opposite.  I left my job at the IAFF and gave up a salary of $155,000.  Taking a 50% pay cut in order to restore my personal dignity was the best thing I ever did. That, my friend, is a liberating, clarifying and empowering act.

      Don’t forget my challenge to you.  Oh, and say hi to Edgar for me.

      Thanks, again for writing.



      • Dennis says:

        E.  You remind me of Howard Stern.  You speak the truth and don't really give a shit about what anyone thinks.  I would like to be like you when I grown up. 

  • Bill Hand says:

    Eric, after being an IAFF member for 31 years and spending 25 years as a Hazmat/WMD instructor here are a few observations……As a "IAFF Contract Instructor" I saw many of my brother instructors treated in a very un union way. Things were done that the IAFF would never let happen if it was coming from a fire chief or some city official in a Right to Work state. All of our instructors were active union members, so why the different treatment because they were "Contractors"? It seemed like we were working for the most non union outfit I had ever worked for. Personally I hung in there for as long as I could and tried to put politics and other abuses of power aside by focusing on our customers. It was always about the health and safety of the folks in the street. Well, last December I decided that I had witnessed all the hypocrisy I could from the GP and current leadership of the program and resigned. I still support and believe in our great union, but the leadership needs to get more in touch with the world outside the Beltway.

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