August 14th, 2008
10:50 AM ET
14 years ago

Firefighters union backs Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Obama spoke to the International Association of Firefighters in March."]
(CNN) – A major firefighters union will throw its support behind Barack Obama during its annual convention in Las Vegas on Thursday.

Obama, who is on vacation with his family in Hawaii, taped a message that will be played in front of the 3,500 members of the International Association of Fire Fighters at around 2pm E.T.

The union chose to back Obama over John McCain because of the presumptive Democratic nominee’s support of collective bargaining, which gives workers the right to jointly work with their employers to negotiate hours, salaries, benefits and overall working conditions, IAFF spokesman Scott Treibitz said.

“It is unacceptable when fire fighters do not have collective bargaining rights. But it's not just collective bargaining,” Obama said in the video. “For too long on too many issues, fire fighters have not been treated with the dignity, respect and honor you deserve."

The IAFF endorsed Sen. Chris Dodd’s ultimately unsuccessful presidential bid last August and IAFF President Harold Schaitberger campaigned with him in the early primary states. The union was also credited with giving Sen. John Kerry’s campaign a major boost in 2004.

"On every issue important to fire fighters Senator Obama is and has been in our corner," Schaitberger said. "We can't overlook Senator McCain's service to our country, but we also can't overlook his poor record on issues critical to the financial security of our 290,000 members."

Sen. Joe Biden will attend and address the convention on behalf of Obama.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (184 Responses)
  1. New Jersey Lady

    Minnesota Woman get over it and have a nice life. This Obama supporter wishes you well.

    God bless.

    August 14, 2008 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  2. demwit

    Unions back Obama? Why is that??

    August 14, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  3. non black nonwhite

    no one ever seems to remember the sacrafice firefighters make so this is good news but I am waiting for Powell's endorsement!

    August 14, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  4. bam

    The Fire Fighter Union support for Senator Obama is consistent with other unions suing WalMart corporate executives for pressuring lower level employees to vote Republican. WalMart fears that a Democratic President would allow employees to unionize, one more confirmation that Democrats look out for the American people while Republicans protect corporate profits.

    August 14, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  5. proud army and navy mom

    to Paulie:

    first he's a celebrity, now he little known, make up your mind.

    Sen Obama's credentials are just fine thank you. He has the judgment and wisdom to run this great country and keep our troops from fighting dumb wars.

    Maybe you should try reading instead of listening to pus limbaugh.

    August 14, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  6. mdaum

    Apparently firefighters are heroes now.
    We've watered down that word to the point of no meaning whatsoever.

    August 14, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  7. George from Minneapolis

    Every American citizen who is not filthy rich like John McCain and his $500 shoes should support Obama. It is not suprising that firefighters, good hardworking normal folks would support Obama.

    At least the firefighters have sense enough to not vote against their own economical interests. Too bad more Americans dont have as much common sense.

    August 14, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  8. Nick

    Ruby, Kansas-
    I don't think the Fire Fighter's Union can be VP.

    Everyone needs to stop speculating about who the VP is. All your predictions are meaningless. It is clearly going to be Evan Bayh. Hillary is the only other choice and we know he isn't going to do that.

    August 14, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  9. Richard J

    A union supporting the democratic contender? Noooooo, I dont believe it. . .

    geesh, what else is new?

    August 14, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  10. Pat-Pittsburgh

    Second the motion from Minnesota Woman Voter for Hillary; now for McCain! Pat from Pittsburgh says I don't support BO either.

    August 14, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  11. white female

    To the Minnesota Woman for Hillary, good go to McCain we don't want your kind any way SEE YAA HATER.
    oBAMA 08/16

    August 14, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  12. gary

    Obama is a joke. pretty boy with no knowledge how to run a country,just give a smooth speech.America will find out when its to late. A unexperience media clown will put our country in worst shape. With age comes wisdom. Our country is falling for a con man.America o.b. followers dont act like they care about their country just the dream of change that will never be.Our national security is the main issue. Without our country safe ,we dont need to worry about any other issue. Think about it you morons that dont vote for experience and wisdom.

    August 14, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  13. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    Name a job that is not union that gives the employee the ability to negotiate hours, salaries, benefits. You will not find one. This just means that they will have more power to strike.

    August 14, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  14. CW4Barack


    Isn't it funny how quickly McBush sent aide to Georgia compared to how sloooowww they reacted to Katrina victims in New Orleans....even to this day American citizens from that region still has not gotten the aid they need! Hmm....I guess when big oil is involve forget the Americans!

    August 14, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  15. carlo

    To all the bitter Hillary supporters: Get over it, vote for McCain already and shut up.

    To William: A union endorsing a candidate, no matter how expected, is news. Cindy McCain wasting insurance money to get x-rays because she shook hands with an untouchable isn't.

    August 14, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  16. RJ, CA

    Union members are always told what to do by their union bosses, but they usually do exactly what they, themselves, want to do - so this is NOT a big plus for Obama by any means. Besides, no outfit wears the label "corruption" better than unions. But, then, so does Obama - so I guess it's a good fit.

    August 14, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  17. Nick Mentis

    Ladies and Gentlemen,the time has come for all of you to realize that what goes around comes around,in your country slavery was abolished not too long ago,now you get to bare the fruits of your ancestors labours,you will end up with a colored president,he is your only hope to PEACE,and the future of America,should you vote for a white president all you will end up with is another religious HERETIC,....Dinasuars,are the past Barack Obama on the other hand represents youth wich equals FUTURE....................Thank You

    August 14, 2008 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  18. Praetorian, Ft. Myers

    Of course Obama is behind firefighters. Nobody wants to deny those who protect our life and property, but....

    In my community–they get salaries (and unheard of in the "real world" overtime). And white shirts–are making 5 times what the taxpayers who pay for their salaries earn.

    No reason or judgement is given to equipment purchases–even though we have around 20 fuel guzzling all terrain ambulances–and 98% of the patient transport is along city streets w/ paved surfaces–nobody ever asks why they need such lumbering rapid emergency response and patient transport vehicles.

    Sure–they do vehicular extrication and such–but they usually call on the firedepartment rescue units for that–so why the dozens of jaws of life?

    Libertarians–against the ridiculous waste and the unionization of government servants.

    No request for funding has "ever" been turned down to my knowledge.

    August 14, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  19. Rob Johnson

    This will help blunt the 9/11 PR offensive that the GOP is surely planning as we speak. It makes it a little harder to say you are the candidate of national security when fire fighters support the other guy.

    First responders are the key to any emergency, whether it is terrorism or a natural disaster. Any genuine effort at national security needs to begin with people like fire fighters and port security.

    Look for the big police unions to be next. That would be even more of a coup for Obama, and knock the wind out of McCain's sails on the whole "law and order" issue, which has been a winner for the GOP since the Nixon days.

    August 14, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  20. Letha, SD

    Big what is the point and why are so many Obamanation groupies welcoming these people who endorse him? As if they have some personal connection to the messiah they are following!

    August 14, 2008 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  21. Craig

    @ gary

    Learn how to spell and use grammar properly, then you can talk to me about wisdom.

    August 14, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  22. ALEX


    August 14, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  23. RJ, CA

    That's actually a pretty funny photo with this article: Little man hiding behind a big podium! Just noticed it.

    August 14, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  24. Praetorian, Ft. Myers

    By the way...
    Wouldn't labor organizations (who have the most lobbyists in Washington) be considered special interest groups?

    August 14, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  25. Latina for Obama...NJ

    Well Minnesota Woman...I DO!!!


    Thank you IAFF

    August 14, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
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