IAFF affiliates are playing a pivotal role in this year's presidential election.
In the critical battleground state of Ohio, Cincinnati Local 48’s office serves as the logistical hub in Hamilton County for the Obama for America (OFA) campaign.
Since last Monday, Local 48's office has been transformed into the field operations headquarters for the County where people from across the country have used it for phone banking outreach to voters, organizing campaign packets and literature, polling, processing general inquiries, canvassing and other get out the vote efforts.
Cincinnati Local 48 president Matt Alter says it has been great to have people work out of the fire union's office and they are extremely excited to see fire fighters are on their side.
“Everyone who walks into the office is just elated because they see our signage and support – people are coming up to us thanking us,” Alter says.
Fire Fighters for Obama-Biden signs are placed around the walls of Local 48’s office.
“We say thank you to them, for everything that they’ve done for us and their support, especially when we were fighting to protect our collective bargaining.”
Alter says the relationships Cincinnati fire fighters have developed over the years, in addition to the office's layout and closeness to downtown Cincinnati, made it a good fit for OFA to set up its operation.
The fire union's office is staffed with people 10 to 12 hours per day, and at times swells to over 50 volunteers who are working witht eh OFA campaign. Locally endorsed elected officials, including Ohio State Representatives Alicia Reece and Denise Driehaus, have helped with efforts and met with canvassers and fire fighters.
In addition, NHK, a national public broadcasting organization from Japan, stopped by Local 48’s office to interview people about efforts and why Ohio’s electoral points are critical to a President Obama or Mitt Romney victory.
Local 48 President Alter says it is exciting that Ohio is receiving so much attention. Hamilton County is a battleground area where President Obama won in 2008 and is also a district represented by Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a top Mitt Romney surrogate.
Alter says fire fighters haven't forgotten that Romney came to Ohio last year and publicly supported the controversial SB5 legislation that would have stripped public workers from having the right to bargain collectively. SB5 was resoundingly defeated last November and ignited the labor movement.
“Our job is to make sure our members are educated and have the right information," Alter says. "We have to make sure that members understand where candidates stand not only on fire fighter issues, but on issues that are important to all of labor, including pensions, jobs and safety.”