In the aftermath of the failure of Issue 7 in Xenia, some troubling details and statements have been brought to light by individuals seemingly affiliated with the Xenia Fire Division and the IAFF Local 698, and these statements, which could be labeled even as subtle threats are found to be disturbing by local area residents. Issue 7, was to be an increase of 0.5% in income taxes for Xenia residents. IAFF is a member of AFL-CIO, the largest labor union conglomerate in the United States.
On a Facebook page titled “Xenia Fire Division (unofficial page)” creators of the page have made comments that could be perceived as being threatening to the community in the aftermath of the failure of Issue 7’s passage. In one comment which has been since removed, the authors of the page wrote:
With the failure of Issue 7, The Xenia Fire Division will reduce staffing by SIX firefighter/paramedics. This will CLOSE the fire station on West Second St. ~ RESIDENTS SHOULD MAKE SURE THEIR SMOKE DETECTORS HAVE NEW BATTERIES! IT MAY BE YOUR ONLY CHANCE OF SURVIVING A RESIDENTIAL FIRE
In another comment, which has also been removed, the authors of the page provided statistics on the likelihood of having heart attacks and implied that nobody will come to provide help because Issue 7 was voted down.
The full time Xenia City firefighters are members of IAFF Local 698, the International Association of Fire Fighters, members of AFL-CIO and CLC. According to their own website, IAFF is “one of the most active lobbying organizations in Washington; its Political Action Committee, FIREPAC is among the top one percent of the more than 4,000 federal PACs in the country.”
IAFF and AFL-CIO were major supporters of President Obama’s healthcare bill and endorsed the bill despite initial concerns over taxes for high-cost insurance plans. IAFF is also an usual backer of local tax levies and tax increases on local communities throughout the country, levies aimed at providing pay raises, benefits and pensions for unionized employees. The current contract between the Local 698 and the City of Xenia specifies a 3% pay increase for each year the next three years; there has been no official word on how the failed Issue 7 will affect this contract.
On April 21, 2010, IAFF President Harold Schaitberger stated in a speech in Indianapolis that “we are fighting for our jobs and pensions” when discussing the economic hardships facing many municipalities throughout the nations, and their decisions to cut the number of firefighters and close firehouses in order to make ends meet. IAFF officials do provide financial support to PACs (Political Action Committees) created in support of local levies or ballot initiatives.
In an apparent effort to help pass Issue 7, Local IAFF 698 in Xenia prominently displayed a large yellow sign on the property next to station 2 stating "This station will close if Issue 7 fails," and the City of Xenia held an “open house” during the weekend before the May 4 election, allowing Xenia families to visit and view a fire station and various police and fire equipment. City Residents however voted against Issue 7.