The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) announced Tuesday it would stop giving political contributions to federal candidates and campaigns.
In a statement, IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger said his union has decided to focus its efforts at the state level.
"We know we have legislative fights, ballot measures and recall elections that will require us to be on the offensive at the state and local level through this fall. I expect this strategic decision to focus our resources on state and local efforts to last as long as the political and legislative fights in the states continue," Schaitberger said.
The firefighters union is one of the larger labor groups in the country, with almost 300,000 members. The union's political action committee has also been a big donor to candidates of both parties and has more than $1.7 million in cash on hand, according to Federal Election Commission records.
The standoff between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) and public-sector unions over collective bargaining rights earlier this year has played out in other states as labor has been confronted with new GOP-controlled state legislatures as well as new GOP governors. The firefighters union was involved in the protests against Walker, though their members were exempted from legislation pushed by the governor that strips bargaining rights from state government workers.
Schaitberger said allies of labor need to speak up more and defend unions as they have come under attack.
"The attacks launched at our members since the November 2010 elections have changed the landscape," Schaitberger said. "Now more than ever, as our adversaries speak and act with a concerted, focused message, we need our friends to respond with similar strength and leadership to beat back the multi-faceted, well-organized assaults the right has launched at us — funded by anti-labor extremists like the multi-billionaire Koch brothers. And while we are fighting for our very survival, our friends aren't doing enough to fight back — they don't have our backs."