Making The Fire Fighters' Voice Heard
The first step in becoming involved in the political process is making certain every fire fighter and family member is on the voters' list. This process is called enumeration.
The next step is to ensure they vote on election day. Good voters are ones who are well informed: informed on the candidates, their voting records and backgrounds, and the date, time and place of the election.
Then, you must make sure the fire fighters actually go to vote. You may have to provide transportation for those unable to get to the polling stations. As scrutineers announce the total number of supporters either voting or not voting, your activists may need to telephone members or go to their homes to encourage them to vote.
When Election Day is over, the local unions' activists should be rewarded for their dedication and hard work. There are several ways in which to recognize the extra effort of each activist. You may wish to present them with a certificate of appreciation, or mention them in a local union newsletter or something similar, but their hard work should not go unrecognized.
Raising voluntary contributions for political action from IAFF members will be an important function of a local union. However, to be successful, political education and communications must come first. Members must be aware of the need and uses of political action money before they will contribute. They must also know how the political committee works and understand how their contributions to this committee can affect the outcome of an election and the lives of first fighters.
To be successful, it is necessary to fully comply with the laws governing political contributions and raising funds for political action. Keep in mind that the laws are subject to change and interpretation, therefore, you must remain current with the law to avoid violations of the law.
The federal legislative process tends to focus on issues of national concern affecting all groups. There are larger issues of general concern to all of labour that come before Parliament. Some issues before the Parliament will affect only fire fighters. Therefore, the IAFF must be involved in grassroots lobbying to ensure its voice and position are heard on Parliament Hill.
This is done through effective grassroots lobbying of elected representatives in Ottawa and when they are back home in their ridings. Since no one else represents the IAFF's position on federal issues of concern to fire fighters and their families, it is the responsibility of IAFF members to make their voice heard on Parliament Hill. If legislators do not hear from fire fighters, our needs and concerns will not be properly addressed by our elected representatives. YOU must make your voice heard in the legislative arena by lobbying your elected representatives.