Brother and Sisters,
I’d like to start off by saying I am very thankful for your support during the election. Being on the E-board has been a goal of mine and receiving your support makes the goal that much more special.
If you have not heard, there are 64 different races going on across the state between now and November, ranging from local assembly seats to the national senate seat. Each one of these races is important to our local and state associations and more importantly to each one of you. Each election has long-term ramifications and can affect your pay, your benefits, your work environment, and even your retirement. With all these important things being affected, I think it is safe to say that as a local we must be active in politics. Just this last session in Juneau, our retirement bill was a prime example of why politics matter. One state senator alone was able to stall and kill our pension bill even though it had a significant amount of traction and a strong probability of passing. And this is just one example. I am sure if anyone was to ask Engineer Stewart about how politics has affected and changed his career, he would have some stories to share.
For those of you who don’t know, all election season the local and state associations choose different candidates to support. The IAFF is a bipartisan union that works with all parties. To sum up, we support candidates who support us. As an E-board, there is a lot of time put into choosing the right candidate and our endorsement means a lot. I have heard many IAFF executives and politicians say time and again “we punch above our weight class” and the candidates know this. A prime example is the Lisa Murkowski write-in Campaign of 2010.
Our union works to support candidates that support our issues regardless of party affiliation. Our endorsements are based on support for our issues, not personal political beliefs. Everyone the IAFF chooses to endorse is not always the favorite of the members. I also know that everyone here has an opinion that may differ from the candidates that we choose. This can be a tough decision to make when it comes time for endorsements and help with campaigns. Just know that the IAFF is choosing these candidates solely because they support our issues and is in no way telling you how to vote.
One of the areas I will be focusing on as a new E-board member is the elections. I will be coordinating events and trying to support the candidates that we as the Local and State association have chosen to support. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have participation from the body for these different events. I am asking everyone throughout this election cycle to just choose two events to show up to. Whether this is a photo with a candidate, a lit drop, or covering a union trade know that any help and participation are both needed and greatly appreciated. You will be seeing emails from me for most of the summer and into the fall with different opportunities to be involved.
For the newer members of the department, this is a great opportunity to get out and meet others, see what our local union does, and how effective we can be in the political realm. For the more senior members who have put the time in over many years, maybe take this opportunity to show the younger generation how impactful we can be, just like you did during AO-37 and other important elections.
A prime example of this all coming together for the betterment of the body is the last race we participated in. The local chose to support Daniel Volland for the second assembly seat in district 1. Not only did we donate financially from our local PAC but we also had twenty-plus volunteers show up and dedicate time to his campaign. Daniel has won that seat and we will now continue to have a veto-proof majority in the assembly. We are already seeing the benefits with increased staffing for Rescue 4 as well as money being allocated for more staffing in the future. I cannot thank the people who showed up to help enough. If 20 volunteers can help in a small assembly race, imagine what 400 can do.
At the end of the day, my message is simple. Politics matter and be active in your union. I encourage people to have conversations about our union and what we do. Don’t hesitate to use your shop stewards or active members to get as much information as you need. If anyone has any questions, don’t ever hesitate to call, I am always available.
AKPFFA South Central VP