Inquiring minds are interested in the story of Michael Schaffer, a Cherry Hill, New Jersey firefighter brave enough to take a stand against union greed.

Schaffer resigned from his union over its policy forbidding members from volunteering for departments that employ union members or are targets for union expansion.

Please consider South Jersey firefighter takes stand against union.

For more than three decades, Michael Schaffer has willingly run into burning buildings. He’s performed CPR on children. He’s freed people trapped in crashed vehicles. Last June, the union Schaffer has belonged to for 21 years brought him up on charges for volunteering with the fire department where he resides.

The International Association of Fire Fighters forbids members from volunteering for departments that already employ some IAFF firefighters or are viewed as targets by the IAFF for expansion.

Schaffer’s hometown firehouse is all-volunteer and employs no union workers directly. But through mutual aid agreements, the firehouse — in the West Berlin section of Berlin Township — makes runs in neighboring towns that employ some IAFF firefighters.

Rather than risk expulsion by his “brothers” for doing something that he loves and that runs in the family, Schaffer resigned last month from his union, Cherry Hill Firefighters Local 2663.

“Especially with the economic times, if we went to a paid department, it would kill our town with taxes. People would have to move out,” said West Berlin Fire Chief Joe Jackson. Jackson, who is also Berlin Township’s police chief, said he backs Schaffer in this dispute.

Schaffer must still pay $35 out of every pay period to the union because of contract obligations, though he receives none of the union benefits. He said he harbors no ill will toward the IAFF, but hopes union leaders rethink their approach to enforcing the rule.

“I don’t work for the union. I work for the fire department. This in no way is going to affect my job at all,” Shaffer said. “I don’t feel any repercussions so far. I stood by what I thought was right.”

What is a Public Servant?

The key to this story is Michael Schaffer’s comment “I don’t work for the union. I work for the fire department. I stood by what I thought was right.”

What a refreshing comment.

I would like to hear a teacher say “I don’t work for the teachers’ union, I work for the school district, for the benefit of the kids. As a public servant, I have a duty to work for what is in the best interest of the children I teach, not the best interest of me or the union.”

I would like to hear a police officer say “I don’t work for the police union, I work for the city. As a public servant, I have a duty to protect the city, not rape the taxpayer. Public servants should serve, not be served.”

I realize it’s a novel concept, but we would all be better off if public servants served someone besides themselves.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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