PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An unprecedented endorsement in the race for president sparked protests among Philadelphia firefighters and paramedics. Some say they did not have a say in which candidate their union supported.
The issue that many Local 22 members have taken with the endorsement is that they feel they never had a say in it and do not want to be mixed up in such a contentious race.
Since early Tuesday afternoon, there were firefighters and paramedics standing outside of Local 22.
“I’ve been waiting out here since 12 o’clock,” one man said.
But the union meeting these members were waiting for was called off around 4 p.m. due to “safety concerns.”
“We are locked out of our own building,” said one protester.
These Local 22 members turned out anyway. They had planned on formally requesting that their executive board and president remove the union’s endorsement of President Trump’s reelection campaign, a decision they say members were not behind.
“All we want him to do is retract it. That’s all we want because we shouldn’t be in this,” Local 22 member Capt. George Perez said.
The him is union president Michael Bresnan, who welcomed President Trump to accept the endorsement in person on what was supposed to be a planned trip to Philadelphia last Sunday before the president fell ill with COVID-19.
“There is nothing to gain with us backing a national candidate, regardless of which candidate it is,”
“If he would have endorsed [Joe] Biden, I would have felt the same way. That’s not our place, international has their job. That’s not us,” firefighter Christopher Smith said.
The International Firefighter and Paramedic Network endorsed Biden for president. Local 22 traditionally only backs local candidates.
“This would be the first time Local 22 has ever placed itself in a position to endorse a president of the United States,” Local 22 member Girt Allerton said.
Members say that the endorsement was based on the email responses of just 574 of 4,700 total members.
In a statement, Bresnan said, “The Executive Board has decided to do a full membership vote via mail secret ballot, similar to our elections, on the issue of the endorsement of the President of the United States. The vote tally will be completed and abided by, by the end of October prior to the election.”
The members Eyewitness News spoke with Tuesday say they feel holding another vote is simply a method to stall and keep the endorsement intact. We reached out to Bresnan for additional comment but did not hear back.