— IAFF (@IAFFNewsDesk) April 29, 2019
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Today’s (Monday) news that the IAFF is throwing its support behind the presidential campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. If you were legitimately shocked by this move–and some IAFF members on social media acted like they were–you just haven’t been paying attention and only have yourself to blame.
The push back from IAFF members that followed also shouldn’t have caught anyone off guard. There are a great many IAFF members self-identifying as supporters of President Donald Trump who are quite pissed off by General President Harold Schaitberger’s announcement and his appearances on the three major cable news networks.
Schaitberger and Biden have been joined at the hip for a long time. News coverage of the last presidential election made it clear the IAFF was poised to make a similar move if Biden got into the 2016 race. The IAFF leadership believes Biden and the Democrats are the best choice in 2020 for union firefighters and labor, in general. The IAFF membership isn’t universally buying that message.
Look at this morning’s tweet carrying Schaitberger’s announcement. As of this writing, there are 669 replies and the large majority are from people angry at the IAFF endorsement. I couldn’t easily find another @IAFFNewsDesk tweet with that many replies. While there are also 3800 likes and 1200 retweets, the passion is clearly coming out in the negative comments from people saying things like they’re done with the IAFF and won’t be giving the union any more money. Similar reaction in 2016 helped guide IAFF leadership’s decision not to endorse a candidate in the general election.
Amid today’s tweet storm, there was a comparatively small number of people showing support for Biden. There were also tweets pushing Senator Bernie Sanders as the best choice for labor.
Schaitberger responded to questions from news anchors about the feelings of IAFF members by acknowledging there has been strong support for President Trump, but also saying he believes Biden can win over some of the union voters lost to Trump in 2016.
If you think President Trump took IAFF’s decision well and ignored the bad news, once again, you haven’t been paying attention. Trump came out swinging, taking a shot at what he called “The Dues Sucking” IAFF leadership.
The Dues Sucking firefighters leadership will always support Democrats, even though the membership wants me. Some things never change!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 29, 2019