How Did We Get in This Mess? Who Cares?
How Do We Get Out of This Without Losing It All?
The Art of War
P/R or Perish
The 5 P’s of Political Success
Lobby Like You Love It
What to Do to Make Things Worse?
A Short Side Trip into Labor/Management Ethics
Presenter: Jeff Carnes
Former FPF 10th DVP, Florida Labor Attorney
Author: The Survivor’s Guide to a Successful Public Sector Union: Fire/Rescue Edition
Call Jeff Carnes at 813-240-8165
How Did We Get in This Mess? Who Cares?
The reason things have gotten so unpleasant for all public employees are many. Frankly, firefighters have not been attacked as severely as other public employees because you have a more positive public image and better political connections than other groups such as teachers and general blue collar employees. Fire and police are looked at differently but for different reasons.
One good way to figure out how to move into a better place is to recognize:
• Where you are… and
• Why you are there.
There are THREE main reasons why things are bad with some minor reasons thrown in:
1. The economy has tanked. A bad economy has caused a serious decrease in tax revenues. Tax revenues pay for your salaries and benefits. That is not your fault, but you are paying the price, anyway. Do not spend a lot of your time and effort placing blame on others. It happened. Be assured, however, that your enemies will continue to blame a poor economy long after recovery has begun.
2. The political climate deteriorated. Many of you lost your political edge. The Republicans took over; and with pressure from ultra-conservative influences, public employees became the scapegoats to be sacrificed in the name of lowering an already low tax burden.
3. We did not react quickly enough to overcome #1 and #2. When you are up to your ass in alligators, it is too late to drain the swamp. Playing the blame game will accomplish nothing. Look in the mirror.
How Do We Get Out of This Without Losing It All?
• Execute the basics
• Identify the level of purpose: IAFF, FPF, Local
• Plan your work and work the plan
• Control the message to the public
• Keep on message
• Do not attract attention to your issues
• Focus the message on public concerns
• Identify the priorities and prepare for strategic sacrifices
• Learn how to negotiate a strategic retreat (public stance versus private reality)
• Prepare to react but do not react without need
• Diminish the partisan nature of your activities
• Focus on building consensus among members and support from the public
The Art of War (We are at War)
There is great value to the saying, “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” The source of this saying is not certain. We know it was spoken by Michael Corleone in the Godfather II, but it is widely attributed to General Sun Tzu. Sun Tzu was an advocate of the principle of winning wars without the savagery of battle. His wisdom can be of use to you both internally and externally. He is also credited with stating:
Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory:Hence the saying: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
(1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
(2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.
(3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.
(4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.
(5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.
1. Learn to pick your battles;
2. Learn to put up only enough fight to win the battle;
3. Learn to keep your supporters focused on the same issue; and
4. Learn to prepare for the battle and develop the patience to strike at the opportune time.
P/R or Perish
You cannot exist much less flourish without good Public Relations
Your ability to influence the public is dependent on the attitude they have about you. Public relations and political activism are the background preparation success. A Local’s public relations effort is the back bone for the Local’s political action activities.
Even if a political action effort is temporarily unsuccessful, a local union can and must maintain a positive role in the community through its public relations work so that the local can still get its foot in the door with the politicians and the public to allow the Local’s lobbying effort to succeed.
When times are tough, member morale goes down the toilet and the PR campaigns are just that much harder to keep afloat. You must ramp up the PR campaigns or the opposition will bury you and all the good things your members do for the community.
Your enemies want to make you look like selfish spoiled brats who feed at the public trough and provide no valuable service for your pay or benefits.
You must put a good face in front of the press and the public to counter what your enemies are saying about you.
Politics and Public Relations is what get us in the door so we can share the facts that may have some credibility because of the politics that got us in the door.
In bad times like we see right now, the PR effort is more important than when times are good. The public (politicians and citizens) need to see the faces of those who serve them. The public must attach a face to those they are harming. If you allow it, your enemies will dehumanize and marginalize you so that you are just an expense item in a budget that needs to be cut.
The 5 P’s of Political SuccessPublic Relations
Friendlies, Non-friendlies, Unfriendlies
Know Your Enemies.
Make Them Pay Every Day,
In Every Way.
Educate your members
Educate the public
Lobby Like You Love It
Lobbying is about Developing Relationships
Political activity and the lobbying that goes with it is all about relationships. Relationships that give you access to the legislators and others who can be convinced of the righteousness of your position.
Providing resources to an elected official in their quest to win an election and remain elected is the most obvious way the relationship begins. By resources we are referring to time, energy, effort and money. Your Local has some of all these resources. You need to figure out how to spread those resources for the best return on investment. Just like in the stock market, there are some winners and losers. However, within the realm of political involvement, the only real and perennial losers are those who do not participate. When one considers either the stock market or political action, it is necessary to go into each for the long haul.
It is a mistake to take the simplistic attitude that you are buying the favor of politicians when you participate although it surely will seem like some of them are openly for sale to the highest bidder. Most elected officials are honest people trying to do the right thing. We may disagree on what is the right thing. That is why you need to build a relationship with your elected officials so you can get access to them.
Access to an elected official is the bedrock of political power.
Most state and federal legislators understand the importance of lobbying. They encourage it, at least from their supporters. They cannot effectively govern without the input of those so-called special interest groups lobbyists represent. They listen to those they trust, respect or fear.
Get this straight and commit it to memory. It goes like this:
Effective political activism leads to relationships with legislators that give you access to put forth your point of view. Friendlies will listen to you. They may not always agree with you, but they will listen. Develop relationships with as many legislators as possible so you will have that access. This is not rocket science.
However, it takes time in addition to money and effort. The lobbying program must be in effect long before the need arises to be successful. Remember about being up to your ass in alligators?
Local elected officials are more sensitive to the public perception of lobbyists than state and federal legislators. Many want to publicly pretend they do not interact with lobbyists or are immune from lobbying efforts. This makes it more difficult to build a relationship with someone you did not support. However, you cannot afford to let them avoid your effort. On any given initiative, each no vote is counted only once so you have nothing to lose by trying all the harder to build relationships and gain access to those who are not naturally your supporters.
In terms of what to do and what not to do, the Do Not’s are probably more important than the Do’s.
Do Not’s:Do not lie to a legislator or even bend the facts. Same for the staff. After they catch the lie, you will never be effective. Trust is the hallmark of the lobbying relationship.
Do not threaten a legislator or staff. People who think they are powerful do not appreciate the common man getting in their face. How can you have a positive relationship with someone who hates your guts?
Do not waste their time. Get to the point and get out of the office. They really are busy. You will only turn them off by re-killing the dead horse.
Do not talk to them only about issues. Legislators, at all levels of government, are still people just like you and me. They appreciate talking about more than what you want them to do. They have families, hobbies, and other interests. Relationship building includes these kinds of things. Professional lobbyists know this. Spend enough time with these people to allow them to feel comfortable with you. This takes a lot of time, but it can be time well spent.
Do not fail to listen to a legislator’s comments and questions on an issue. The only way you can overcome resistance is to understand the source. If the legislator is with you, you need to reinforce the support. Politicians like to talk about what is important to them. Give them the opportunity to make themselves happy.
Do not overwhelm a legislator with too much information. Remember KISS. They really don't have time for all you can give them. Provide them with whatever is really important to them and be ready to supply any other needed information. Be careful about using fire/rescue jargon that means nothing to them.
Do not refer to bills by their numbers alone. Legislators and staff have more than one bill before them. Make sure they know to which piece of legislation you refer.
Do not be inflexible. Compromise is the essence of politics. Would you really rather have nothing if you cannot have it all? Learn lobbying and legislative strategies that might save an issue otherwise destined to die.
Do say “Thanks.” Sometimes it is necessary to say something pleasant even when you do not mean it. Let your members know whom to appreciate so they can say it as well. Lobbying is all about relationships not one time only confrontations.
Do let other members become part of the process. You cannot be everywhere at once. You need a lobbying team that has you as the leader.
Do make sure your lobbying efforts follow the law. For all the reasons that you have seen from others who were caught on the other side of the bleeding edge of illegal activity.The lobbying effort, on all levels, is the key to legislative success. Political activity and the public relations effort are the basis for the lobbying effort. All of this is part of a process that takes time, resources and continuity. It is your job to do what is necessary to make the effort a success. It is that simple. Denial and avoidance will only result in the eventual demise of the Local’s leadership. Your Local needs your leadership.
Who must be Included in the Lobbying Program
• Elected Mayor and City, County, Fire District Legislative Officials within the jurisdiction
• State legislators, House and Senate, within jurisdiction
• Legislative Aids
• City and County Managers, Assistant Managers and staff
• Fire Department Managers and Civilian and Certified Managerial Staff
• Human Resources and Labor Relations Managers and Staff
• Finance Department Managers and staff
• Administrative staff you never even knew existed
• Leaders of other Locals and other unions
• Media sources
• Business and civic leaders
• Other lobbyists
What Do You Need to Know About These People
Everything about them that may help, including but not limited to:
• Names, Addresses, Phone Numbers, Email addresses
• Spouses, children, lovers and confidants of all of the above
• Prior education, employment and criminal records
• Favorite restaurants and places where they hang out
• Political, religious and civic affiliations
• Personal interests, hobbies, sports
• Good and bad habits
• Health of legislator and family members
Remember, you and your Local are trying to persuade these people from varying backgrounds with varying goals and objectives to narrow their focus to agree to help you and your members achieve your frequently very different goals and objectives. You must find common ground. One person cannot get along with everybody or be in as many places as are needed all at once. You must have a trained, dedicated and capable team to help you or you will fail. Now go out there and succeed.
What to Do to Make Things Worse?• Do nothing, unless nothing is what you should do
• Become offensive
• Whine a lot
• Expect others to care about your problems
• Fight unnecessary public battles
• Expect the legal system to save you
A Short Side Trip into Labor/Management Ethics• Some people think management ethics is an oxymoron; therefore, they think nothing should be considered unethical in their conduct as a labor leader.
• The definition of ethical behavior in business often offered by texts is, “behavior that is consistent with the principles, norms and standards of business practice that have been agreed upon by society.”
• Ethical awareness in ethical decision making is important because once a person becomes aware of certain ethical dimensions of a situation or decision, that person will engage in the ethical judgment processes.
• Types of unethical behavior: Lyin’, Cheatin’, Stealin’
• From an ethical standpoint, a conflict of interest occurs when one’s judgment or objectivity is compromised. The appearance of a conflict of interest occurs when a third party could think that one’s judgment has been compromised.
• AN ADVERSARIAL POSITION IS NOT UNETHICAL JUST BECAUSE YOU DO NOT AGREE WITH IT.
• Eight steps to Sound Ethical Decision Making
1. GATHER THE FACTS
2. DEFINE THE ETHICAL ISSUES
3. IDENTIFY THE AFFECTED STAKEHOLDERS
4. IDENTIFY THE CONSEQUENCES
5. IDENTIFY THE OBLIGATIONS
6. CONSIDER YOUR CHARACTER AND INTEGRITY
7. THINK CREATIVELY
8. CHECK YOUR GUT.
• THREE ETHICAL TESTS: KID TEST, POWER TEST, HAPPINESS TEST
IF THE OTHER SIDE FINDS OUT, SUSPECTS OR EVEN WRONGLY CONCLUDES YOU ARE ACTING IN AN UNETHICAL FASHION, YOUR EFFECTIVENESS IS REDUCED TO ZERO.
Relentless Involvement Is More Important Than Winning Elections!!
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