Backed by a sea of fire fighters wearing the IAFF trademark gold and black, Ohio Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Ed Fitzgerald committed Wednesday at the IAFF 52nd Convention in Cincinnati that a state government under his watch would respect fire fighters and other public workers, — in stark contrast to the damage being done by Republican Governor John Kasich.
“Is anybody here ready for a new governor of Ohio?,” Fitzgerald asked to loud cheers before committing that, if elected, he would restore local government funds that cities need for services like fire protection, pass presumptive cancers laws for Ohio fire fighters and respect the hard-fought rights of public sector workers.
Fitzgerald thanked the IAFF for helping in 2011 to defeat Senate Bill 5, which imposed limits on public employees’ collective bargaining rights. “We stopped Senate Bill 5 in this state and we sent a message all over the country,” he said. “By 22 percentage points, we defeated it and we couldn’t have done it without the black and gold,” he said.
“You’re not the biggest union in this country, but when the fire fighters speak, people listen… when there was that anti-union wave that was going all over the country, that wave broke in Ohio…”
But Fitzgerald urged delegates to help him “finish the job” and send Kasich – who’s still in office and still supports things like right-to-work – packing in November’s election. Following the defeat of Senate Bill 5, Kasich made the biggest cuts to local government the state has ever seen.
“There are fire departments in this state that had to disband entirely because of local government cuts,” said Fitzgerald. “Kasich used government money to give tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires in this state. His priorities are completely backwards,” he said, adding that Kasich recently told a Cincinnati newspaper the cuts were “no big deal” because fire fighters are still putting out fires.
Fitzgerald said, “Spoken like somebody who has never had a day in his life where he had to risk his life for somebody else. And it’s also spoken like someone who needs to be thrown out in 111 days.”
He said he respects fire fighters and when he received the fire fighters’ endorsement it was one of the proudest days of his campaign. He pledged that if he’s elected, “number one, you’re never going to see something like Senate Bill 5 happen again in this state. Secondly, you’re never going to see right-to-work in this state as long as I’m governor – guaranteed!”
He said, “If fire fighters have his back this time like they had Ohio’s back in 2011 when Senate Bill 5 was defeated, it will send an incredibly powerful message across the country. All I can tell you is I’m going to work as hard as I can, I know how hard you guys work and I’m looking forward to working with you for the next four years with an administration that you can respect, and that respects the work that you do.”
IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger thanked Fitzgerald and pledged the International’s support. “When we say we’re all in, we’re all in,” he said.