In a rousing, fiery speech delivered to the delegates of the 52nd IAFF Convention, Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) General President Terry O’Sullivan offered high praise for the IAFF’s members and leadership — and a well-deserved condemnation of United States politicians.
“If I wasn’t a proud member of LIUNA, I’d love to be a proud member of the IAFF,” said O’Sullivan, whose family includes fire fighters. O’Sullivan commented that he felt as though he was not “just among union members, but family” and praised the IAFF principal officers as two of the most “stand-up and visionary leaders” in the labor movement.
And he was especially vocal about his frustration with the national and local politicians who treat fire fighters like the “dirt beneath their feet.”
“These hypocrites time and time again call you ‘heroes’ and then treat you like second-class citizens” he said. And it’s not just one party. It’s both.
O’Sullivan decried the Republican party as having been “hijacked by Tea Party maggots” who are “disciples” of radical politicians such as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and corporatists such as the Koch Brothers and Grover Norquist. “They’re out to destroy the labor movement,” O’Sullivan says.
He also noted that Democrats, traditionally allies of the labor movement, have become “weak” and that they take for granted the support of unions, adding that the “courage and guts” of “liberal lions” such as Ted Kennedy, FDR, and Harry S. Truman are in short supply, adding that the labor movement is the single most successful anti-poverty initiative in the history of the nation. “We deserve better than we’re getting from Washington, DC. … We have lunatics on the right and chickens on the left.”
He noted, though, that not all politicians, especially moderate Republicans, can be lumped into the same category and stressed that all union members must have the backs of any candidate who has theirs, regardless of their views on non-labor issues.
“We can’t get sidetracked by non-labor issues,” said O’Sullivan. “We have to be laser focused on one thing and one thing only – labor. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, a moderate or a progressive. We as unions must back those who back us.”
He added, “We have a message for any politician who would dare to try to destroy us: We’ll send you to the unemployment line where you belong.”