PRESIDENT’S PERSPECTIVE | BRIAN K. RICE


LOU PAULSON

Crunch Time in Sacramento

When we think about what is happening in the halls of power – whether it’s in Washington, Sacramento or City Hall – it can sometimes seem overwhelming and pointless.

Secretary-Treasurer Mike Lopez and I spent some time this summer visiting fire stations and union halls, and we heard a lot of that kind of sentiment from members. Like many of our fellow citizens, firefighters often see the actions of government as far removed from their everyday lives.

In our case, nothing could be further from the truth. The decisions made by political leaders will directly impact every aspect of our members’ lives and livelihoods, from the safety of their equipment to size of their paychecks to the security of their retirement and health care.

It’s at this time of year that this reality is most in evidence. Right now, there are hundreds of bills in the final stages of the decision-making process. Many are sidetracked in committee. Many others get through one house of the Legislature, only to be trimmed or defeated across the hall in the other house. The fortunate ones make it through both houses and onto the governor’s desk, for signature or veto. And since governors’ vetoes are almost never overturned, it’s especially important right now to have the governor’s ear and attention.

As you will read elsewhere in this newspaper, several of these measures are critically important to our members’ health safety and well-being. Now, more than any other time, the voice of frontline firefighters needs to be heard loud and clear.

As your voice in the State Capitol, California Professional Firefighters is a proud and aggressive advocate. Our governmental advocacy team is second to none in its skill and tenacity. Largely through their efforts, the priority measures on behavioral health, retirement security and anti-privatization have made their way onto legislative priority lists.

CPF members also fight for your interests on over a dozen statewide boards and commissions, from the State Board of Fire Services to the Emergency Medical Services Commission. These hidden halls of power make decisions that can have as great an impact on our lives as those under the Capitol dome.

This past Spring, hundreds of your brothers and sisters came to Sacramento to add their own voices to the chorus, meeting face-to-face with their representatives to put a human face on our issues.

As important and aggressive as we have been in pressing this case in the Legislature, these efforts alone won’t push all of our priorities over the finish line. That takes a strong and unified voice from all of us.

A united voice means standing up for those who stand with us on the issues that matter to your lives on the job. As we’ve said many times, your union’s involvement in politics is laser-focused on the priorities that affect your professional life – your pay, benefits, working conditions, safety on the job.

Electing people who will stand up for us on these core issues is critical not only to the work we do, but to the work you do. From the governor’s office on down, getting your message through the clutter depends on having elected officials whose ears are tuned to your issues, your priorities, your concerns.

Even more important, a strong and united voice requires directly engaging with our leaders to promote your priorities.

When the call goes out to contact your legislators and urge them to support our priorities, take a moment and send a note, or make a phone call. Believe it or not, those contacts matter – especially when they come from the men and women who are out there fighting every day.

I’d encourage you to look at the priorities outlined inside this newspaper. Keep up with the latest updates at www.cpf.org. Most importantly, speak up in support.

Your voice makes a difference, but only if you use it.