IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger joined Vice-President Joe Biden in Flint, Michigan for a press conference on the president’s jobs bill.
Flint Local 352 fire fighter/paramedic Cynthia Earegood also participated in the event, along with Flint Mayor Dayne Walling. Earegood’s job was saved by a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant. Flint was awarded the $6.7 million SAFER grant in FY 2009 and that grant brought back 39 fire fighters and re-opened two stations. Local 352 President Mark Kovach said the grant will expire in about six months.
As part of the jobs proposal presented to Congress September 8, President Obama proposed spending $1 billion to protect fire fighters’ jobs and grow staffing levels. The funding would be sufficient to rehire every laid-off fire fighter and still add thousands of new positions.
Biden said, “There’s no group of Americans that I’m more proud to associate with than first responders.”
“I’ve seen up close and personal the kind of sacrifice you make and your families make. Your family knows anything can happen on any given day.”
The Senate rejected to bring President Obama’s jobs bill to floor discussion Tuesday. The bill would put 5,000 to 7,000 laid off fire fighters back to work, Biden said.
The vice-president also said there is a dual obligation to protect first responders and give them all they need. The jobs bill includes $35 billion to protect police and fire fighter layoffs.