The Death of Advocacy
Is it time to ask ourselves why we even have a union?
A primary reason to unionize is for firefighters and paramedics to have safe working conditions.
Safety advocacy is a crucial reason why the IAFF was formed. It is the process of carefully watching over protective equipment developers, suppliers, and decision-makers to ensure they never lose sight of us.
We need to zealously guard and protect the safety of our members: it is a sacred and paramount union duty.
We must to be vigilant, focused, unconflicted and unrelenting. That in turn means that we must be willing to make sacrifices to ensure that nothing impedes the mission of firefighter safety.
The IAFF ceased to fulfill that crucial mission of safety and health advocacy the instant we began to accept advertising from protective clothing and fire/rescue equipment manufacturers.
Whatever the stated reason or proceeds and wherever the proceeds are said to go, it’s a fatal and ruinous mistake that compromises our safety and integrity.
It is a reckless conflict of interest for a labor union that supposedly holds health and safety as a top priority to promote the products of those we are effectively responsible for overseeing.
The urban definition for the IAFF position on safety advocacy is “whoring it out.”
Is the entire IAFF being whored out in an endless series of deals which cheapen and weaken who we are and what we stand for?
Advertisers include Globe, Dupont, Lion, Kevlar, MSA, Scott, and PBI. They are protective clothing and SCBA providers essential to our health and safety. Engaging in any relationship with them other than an arms-length and politely skeptical one defies any rational interpretation of ethics or responsible behavior.
Our job is (or was) to hold their “feet to the fire.”
Let’s Make (Another) Deal
The IAFF has reached the point where membership trust is for sale to the highest bidder.
What amount of money is our advocacy role worth?
What do we so desperately need that we are willing to jeopardize our principal mission for it?
Or put another way, what would we be willing to go without to ensure that an unblemished legacy of ardent and unrelenting advocacy is passed onto the next generation?
30 Pieces of Silver
Mr. Schaitberger and his vice-presidents, most of whom are compliant, complacent, docile and ethically anemic have become Judases betraying the IAFF to the “high priest of deals.” Their actions (or inaction) amount to evidence of a corrupting influence.
In this parable our “Jesus” does double duty as a Judas. (Apologies for making him just the son of God.)
No “water into wine” miracle is needed as the wine steward is close at hand. So too, loaves and fishes would be waved away in favor of a 20 oz. New York Strip and a side of calamari.
The message it sends to staff and leaders is appalling: don’t be concerned about our mission or our members, be on the lookout for the next deal, no matter how absurd or damaging.
We have lost our edge as a first-rate union intent on caring for our members because of this craven “deal mentality.”
And, our enemies see us as morally weak and professionally conflicted.
“Never forget”, we said.
Well, we have.
We have forgotten both where we came from and why we are here.