We were fortunate enough to spend some time with the International Association of Firefighters yesterday as they prepared to march on the statehouse.  You didn’t have to look very hard to figure out where they were.  By the time we arrived firefighters had already filled up a main hall and were overflowing outside on a relatively warm March day in Columbus.

IAFF local 67 being addressed by General President Harold SchaitbergerBefore getting together to interview General President Harold Schaitberger (bio), we were able to catch the majority of his rousing speech to the membership gathered at Local 67 in what can only be described as a sardine-packed hall.  The thought did occur to me whether they were over the room limit, but I figure if anyone can get away with violating fire codes it’s a room full of firefighters! To capture the scene I was forced to stitch two photos together in a panorama.

At the end of this speech it almost seemed like we didn’t need to do an interview.  It felt like “nuff said”.  I’m glad we did though, because President Schaitberger was just as fired up and eloquent across a conference room table as he was in front of his membership.  Here’s our interview:

Is it clear where the IAFF stands?  Is it becoming clearer to the GOP the pain they have just inflicted upon themselves?  It should be.  Schaitberger makes the point that he realizes many in the group consider themselves Republican, but there was no indication that anyone was excited about what this current crop of Republicans in Ohio is doing to their profession.

One thing I found striking was overhearing conversations and observing these firefighters in their element.  I saw several with babies.  It’s a heartwarming and striking scene to see a big tough firefighter gently handling a newborn.  These folks have a true compassion and work ethic that is stunning.  I overheard several people talk about the work they did the previous night.  It should make those on the right shouting them down at rallies about not being at work feel downright ashamed.

The final thing I got to witness was the group marching up Broad Street on their way to The Statehouse.  I know we’ve talked about bagpipes before but I have to say that they never get old.  Hearing them come up the street followed by hundreds of firefighters on a mission was a thing of beauty.  The group was so large that it took a full 3 minutes for them to walk by me.

Thanks to all the firefighters of IAFF Local 67 for the hospitality!  A random member directed us to the conference room and someone else got me two kinds of pop not knowing which I’d prefer.  You will also notice a new ad on the site directing people to their website http://iafffightingback.com.  We appreciate the support and are glad to offer the visibility to their efforts.  We’re glad to be in the fight with them!

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  • Anonymous

    I know these types of “conversion” stories have been all over lately, but I wanted to share something about a lifelong, childhood friend. I’ve always considered him like a brother.

    He’s become ultra-conservative over the years, and we are so far apart politically that for the past couple of years we really have not spoken. We can’t, because every conversation turns into a political argument. I am a “loony liberal,” in his eyes, and no longer worth trying to save. I admit I share those frustrations about him. So we just stopped bothering. Two years now, roughly, ever since Obama was elected …

    He is also a cop.

    We happened to speak this week, and it was a little tense. I reluctantly asked him what he thought of all this. I braced myself for the usual Fox News talking points, but was both surprised and saddened by what I actually heard.

    He is terrified, and angry. He fears for his kids, whom he sends to Catholic schools but may no longer be able to afford it. He fears for his wife, who is partially disabled and may no longer be able to get the health care she needs. He fears for his home, which he has spent nearly 6 years remodeling by himself but may no longer be able to afford the mortgage.

    He voted for Kasich, so I was tempted to give him shit. But I just couldn’t do it. He was just too upset already. I think his eyes have been opened. This party he has been so loyal to for so long is no longer what he thought it was. It is betraying him.

    He said most of the cops on his force feel the same way he does, and these are people who are not easily swayed. We decided to fight this thing together.

    So John Kasich has accomplished in about 2 weeks what I failed to accomplish in 2 years. I guess I should thank him for that.

    This is like some kind of disease; if it doesn’t affect us directly, it strikes the ones we care about. We just can’t stand for it. And people are waking up. Bank on it.

    Thanks again, Plunderbund. You may have a new member soon. He’s a cop. A brother of mine …

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for posting. This is about real people, our friends, our neighbors and our loved ones.

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  • Anonymous

    This is why I think this will fail in the end. It was fine as long as all the resources were being handed to abstract rich people we dreamed we might be one day and believed that the only people who needed “government” were lazy welfare chislers. But attacking public sector workers is an attack in some way on virtually everyone. Very few average people don’t have a teacher, librarian, nurse, police officer, firefighter, city services worker or someone in a similar job very close to them. And now people can see with their own eyes the impact these measures will have on them or that person close to them.

    Sure, the Koch Brothers will spend a fortune trying to defeat the referendum. But I have no idea how they will design ads that attack not some politician you don’t know, but may your husband or your wife.

  • SD

    Anyone else notice the House of Representatives changed their web site today? In the past you could select a Representative by name then simply click on their email address to contact them.

    NOW there is a link that reads “contact me” and you have to fill out a form in order to contact them.

    They must be receiving quite a bit of email 🙂

  • Fotogirlcb2002

    it use to be like that a few years back
    they are getting mass e-mails
    they dont want to hear from all of us only their own constituents
    doesnt matter they dont answer them either
    I sent mass name e-mails yesterday
    I got several responses saying — if you arent a constiuent of theirs they will answer when they get more time –or they leave a ph #

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