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IAFF Launches Campaign to Fight Back
Updated On: Mar 05, 2011

IAFF Launches Campaign to Fight Back
Against Attacks on Fire Fighter Pensions and Other Benefits

The IAFF is fighting back against politically motivated attacks on our members' pensions. On February 9, the IAFF launched a public education campaign calling out politicians like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who use first responders as scapegoats for the financial woes of the nation’s states and cities.

In a full-page ad in the February 9 USA TODAY, and in upcoming television spots and YouTube videos, the IAFF is asking for public support for the work fire fighters and paramedics do and the benefits they’ve earned. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published this article.

“After a Career Saving Lives, Politicians Want to Take Our Life Savings,” declares the USA TODAY ad.

Click here to watch the video for release to the media and for IAFF affiliates to use in their own communities.

“This is truly an unfair attack, a political attack. It’s really just a smoke screen,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger, who notes that 10 national, state and local organizations recently issued a release disputing politicized misinformation about pension solvency. “We’re adding the voice of fire fighters to the growing campaign to protect vital public services.”

The IAFF is also publishing an ad in the February 10 edition of POLITICO with a message to Congress to "say no to irresponsible state bankruptcies.

In an article posted by In These Times, Schaitberger calls for dialogue, instead of an escalating war of words.

“In an era of revenue shortfalls and budget deficits, fire fighters have become scapegoats of mayors, governors and corporate opportunists who have grossly misrepresented the facts in the public discourse over unfunded pension liabilities,” he wrote. “What they’re not saying is that they are responsible for the unfunded liabilities,” Schaitberger continued. “They are responsible for riding the wave of pension plan investment profits and putting off making annual pension payments for years. They are responsible for creating pension payment holidays and failing to make actuarially required payments. Now their misjudgments leave them facing much larger pension bills.”

Ultimately, the blame for the fiscal problems of local and state governments rests at the feet of Wall Street speculators who crippled the U.S. economy with what amounted to fraudulent investment schemes, Schaitberger says. And he accuses the same speculators of lining up to get their hands on fire fighter pension money.

“We recognize that these Wall Street speculators are urging politicians to turn over our pension funds to them, in the form of riskier defined contribution retirement plans,” he says. “They have no problem risking our future if it lines their pockets.”

Schaitberger says the IAFF will defend its members vigorously, taking the case directly to the public. “Our entire careers have been dedicated to protecting our neighbors and our neighborhoods,” he says. “We believe our neighbors will stand with us against these unfair political attacks.”

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