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The International Association of Fire Fighters union said on Tuesday it was turning off the tap on federal political contributions and putting its money into state and local campaigns.
The union’s general president, Harold Schaitberger, said in a statement that “politicians from both parties have failed to address our issues in Washington, D.C.,” even as public worker unions were coming under attack at the state and local level.
“They are attempting to take away basic American rights like collective bargaining and your right to negotiate for a good quality of life for your families,” Schaitberger said.
With Wisconsin the most prominent example, this year a number of Republican-dominated state legislatures have moved to reduce union power, especially that of public employee unions, often arguing that wages and benefits the unions have won are a critical factor in burgeoning budgets and dangerous deficits.
Unions and their backers say there are other places to cut spending and the real motivation is to weaken unions, who have often been heavy contributors of money and campaign volunteers to Democratic candidates.
The Fire Fighters’ political action committee was in the top 1.1 percent of federally registered PACs in the last election cycle in dollars raised and the tenth biggest in candidate contributions, as well as being one of the most bi-partisan, Schaitberger said, spending nearly $15 million “on behalf of federal candidates and both political parties.”
But for now, he said, the union was “turning off the spigot to federal candidates and federal parties.”
“We know we have legislative fights, ballot measures and recall elections that will require us to be on the offensive at the state and local level through this fall,” he said.
Schaitberger said he expected that concentration of resources to be his union’s policy “as long as the fights in the states remain at such a high level and until we see some real results and leadership from those in Washington.”
Copyright © 2011 Reuters