This is huge. Police and firefighter unions have been aligned with Republican candidates for a long time, and even the callous treatment of 9/11 workers wasn't enough to turn them against the Republicans. So this is very big news indeed:
WASHINGTON -- Leaders from two unions known to support the Republican Party warned of serious repercussions for GOP candidates in the 2012 elections, saying the onslaught of anti-labor bills in state capitals has shifted their political allegiances.
“Our political principles are pretty straightforward. We’ll support those that support us,” Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, told HuffPost. “We tend to stick with those who stick with us.”
“There is a distinct possibility that the pro-labor candidate in the next election will be looked at much more favorably than their overall record,” Chuck Canterbury, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, told HuffPost. “The vast majority of our membership will put other issues aside.”
The inclusion of police and fire unions in an Ohio bill that stripped collective bargaining rights from public employees may have been the last straw for the two conservative-leaning groups. But even in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker’s actions exempted them, cops and fire fighters marched shoulder to shoulder with teachers and other public workers.
Now, the public safety unions are signaling what could be a tectonic shift in the political landscape, one that could result in a level of labor solidarity missing for recent elections.
“I don’t want to say we are unhappy with Republicans but we are very unhappy with the far-right wing of the party that seems to have taken the Republican Party hostage,” said Canterbury, whose union endorsed George W. Bush and John McCain in the last three presidential elections. “We are extremely unhappy with the snowball that rolled in in Ohio and we are traditionally a very conservative organization. We’ve been bipartisan.....But with the actions that have taken place, there’s going to be tremendous reprisals taken out at the polls” by police and their families.”They feel like their public officials turned their back on them.”