Brothers and Sisters,
I want to thank all of you who attended convention this year. We had great participation, spirited debate, and a lot of valuable information shared.
As would probably be expected there was much discussion about unions and efforts to undermine collective bargaining. All of you are probably aware of what is happening in Wisconsin. Some of you may not realize, however, that a bill (Senate Bill 1124) was printed this year to outlaw collective bargaining for public employees here in Idaho. This legislation wouldn’t just repeal our right to bargain with our employers, it would make it illegal to do so even if they were willing. SB 1124 was only printed and did not receive a committee hearing, effectively killing it for the year. Typically when this happens it is a sign that it will be considered more seriously the next year.
There are some of you who see the seriousness of this and want to take action immediately. My message for you is to be patient and keep a cool head. The real fight may take place next year and we need to conserve our resources until then. There is plenty of work to be done in the meantime – focus your energy on this.
On the other hand, there are some of you who may not realize the gravity of the threat that exists. I assure you that this is the biggest struggle we will face in generations. Collective bargaining is on the line and there will most certainly be a bill to try to take it away next session. We cannot afford to have anyone sitting on the sidelines hoping that someone else will take care of this for them.
Rest assured that we have a plan to combat these attacks when they come. We have a whole year to prepare and execute this plan. The plan includes a media component, political component, and organization component. The plan calls for robust pre-emptive work to lay a solid foundation for when we have to really to go to battle. Your PFFI executive board will be working hard on our part of the plan, but we will need all of our locals and all of our members doing their part also. A lot of the work done by your PFFI leaders will be behind the scenes or preparation work. This will not be highly visible - do not take this to mean that we are not hard at work doing our part. Your part will be local media and community relations work that will be critical to our success.
One of the keys to this plan is for all of us are to keep a cool head. We have vetted this plan extensively within the Executive Board and the Lobbying Team. We feel confident that our plan is a good one and that we will be successful. We are firefighters for a reason. When others are panicking and making poor decisions, we remain cool and solve problems. This situation is no different. Do not panic, stay calm, and be focused.
We must also stay disciplined. Some of you may feel a sense of urgency or passion to engage in the battle and will want to do so on your own. Please follow the plan we have developed as an organization and trust that it will work. Understand that messaging is critical to our success and we must have a consistent, unified message that is well crafted. Messaging is difficult as we all-too-often say what makes us feel good and not what our audience needs to hear. Let your PFFI leaders establish message points and take on responding to our opponents. Be cautious about responding to letters to the editor from citizens. Usually these comments don’t sway anyone. If they upset you, it’s because they are filled with inflammatory rhetoric that doesn’t have a lot of influence. If a more prominent editorial/opinion is run in your local paper, let your local leaders or the PFFI leadership craft a response. We will pass down talking points if you want to respond to these.
I know this email is short on details. We will get details out through your PFFI district VP’s and reps and your local leaders. Please help out as specific action items are brought to your attention.
Brothers and Sisters, we are in the midst of something greater than any of us would have dreamed we would be involved in. We have a good plan, though, and we will succeed. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me.