Politics

‘I Am Dismayed’: Firefighters, Paramedics Protest Union’s Trump Endorsement

KYW-TV/Video screenshot

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Members of a Philadelphia union representing firefighters and paramedics are protesting the union’s endorsement of President Donald Trump, according to CBS affiliate KYW-TV.

A group of members gathered outside the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 22 headquarters Tuesday, KYW-TV reported. The group argued that Local 22 shouldn’t endorse any candidate.

“If he would have endorsed Biden, I would have felt the same way,” said firefighter Christopher Smith, according to KYW. “That’s not our place, international has their job. That’s not us.”

Capt. George Perez said, “All we want [Local 22] to do is retract it. That’s all we want because we shouldn’t be in this.”

Local 22 endorsed Trump on Sept. 29, a decision that immediately received pushback from members like Smith and Perez, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Trump responded to the endorsement tweeting that it was a “great honor.”

The IAFF national union endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in April 2019, general president Harold Schaitberger announced. More than 19,000 people as of Wednesday afternoon signed a petition demanding the union rescind its endorsement of Biden saying it didn’t represent members properly, a sentiment Local 22 president Michael Bresnan echoed in his union’s official endorsement of Trump.

“The members of Local 22 respectfully break with the undemocratic IAFF endorsement of Joe Biden and pledge our full support to President Donald J. Trump,” Bresnan said.

“The Biden endorsement was done without a canvas of local unions and the consideration of the rank and file IAFF membership.” (RELATED: Union Members Are Supporting Donald Trump Despite Unions Endorsing Joe Biden)

The endorsement touted grants the Trump administration awarded, which it said put previously-shuttered Philadelphia fire companies back in business. It also noted the United States Fire Administration, AFG, and SAFER Program Reauthorization Act of 2017, which Trump signed into law.

A group of black firefighters and a group of Hispanic firefighters within Local 22 have been outspoken in their criticism of the endorsement, The Inquirer reported. Demetrio Olivieri, the president of the Spanish American Professional Firefighter Association, said “everybody should be up in arms.”

“I am dismayed about what is happening in Philadelphia,” Schaitberger said, according to The Inquirer. “This was done wrong. I don’t believe it represents, overall, the view of the members.”

In response to the criticism, Bresnan said in a statement Tuesday Local 22 will conduct a union-wide vote on the endorsement of Trump, which will conclude by the end of October. But, he stood by the union’s endorsement of Trump in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation Wednesday.

“The facts are the elected Executive Board has the authority to make political endorsements,” Bresnan said. “And a Majority (sic) of the Executive Board voted in favor of Endorsing Donald J. Trump for re-election.”

Trump had been scheduled to visit Local 22, but canceled after he tested positive for coronavirus Friday, The Inquirer reported.

Local 22 represents more than 4,700 active and retired members, according to Bresnan. IAFF represents more than 300,000 total members nationally, according to Department of Labor filings.

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