The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), a division of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), formally endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden in a video statement Monday.
Association President Harold A. Schaitberger said:
I’m proud to announce that we stand with Joe Biden and endorse his candidacy for President of the United States. Joe’s a lot like our firefighters; he’s a problem solver who cares deeply about America and [is] committed to making our country better. He’s one of the staunchest advocates for working families, and he knows that a strong middle class means a strong America. And we know that as president, he will stand up for all of the patriotic Americans who want nothing more than to earn a decent wage, send their kids to college, have affordable healthcare, and a decent and secure retirement.
Joe Biden’s exceptional experience on the international stage throughout his public career, establishing strong relationships with leaders across the globe, will put America back as the beacon of hope and democracy in the world. Joe Biden through civility and decency will enhance the political discourse that our country needs right now. Truly believing that we must be united, and stand together as Americans. He knows that while we can debate and argue over policy issues, we must put personal differences aside and solve the big problems for the American people.
The IAFF declined to endorse former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her bid for president in 2016, despite the fact that her campaign manager, Robby Mook, reportedly solicited the group’s approval. The group’s leadership wanted Biden to enter the race then — something he declined to do after the death of his son.
“Secretary Clinton doesn’t sell well here,” said Roy L. McGhee III, an IAFF board member who represents Texas and Oklahoma. “I think the Republican-attack machine — the media machine — has made sure of that. The vice president will do better. He’s popular among firefighters.”
The group didn’t formally endorse Obama or Clinton in 2008, instead opting to support former Democratic Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd in his primary bid.
The IAFF’s endorsement policy reads, in part:
This union views [endorsement] candidates through a very narrow focus. Decisions are predicated on how candidates stand on fire fighter and labor issues, such as collective bargaining rights, protection of fair labor standards (FLSA) and overtime rights, pay fairness and equity for federal fire fighters, presumption of disability for federal fire fighters, funding for first responder initiatives, full funding of the FIRE Act and SAFER programs, protection of pension and Social Security benefits, and protection and extension of health care benefits for active and retired members, to name a few.
Biden officially announced his candidacy for the presidency early Thursday morning, taking the time to attack President Donald Trump for his response to the 2017 violence in Charlottesville.
“We are in the battle for the soul of this nation,” he said in the video announcement. “If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation. And I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”
The former vice president was officially endorsed by Democratic Sens. Chris Coons of Delaware, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Doug Jones of Alabama. He raised $6.9 million during his first official 24 hours as a candidate, more than Sen. Elizabeth Warren.