BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Last fall, G4S Government Solutions took over fire and rescue operations at the Kennedy Space Center.
Now, as the workers' union is fighting wage and benefit cuts, WFTV investigative reporter George Spencer found that the contractor's massive parent company is very well-connected in Florida.
In July, picketers were the most recent display of unity for Space Center firefighters, who said their biggest fight now is against their new boss, G4S Government Solutions.
Firefighter Dave McGaha has worked at KSC for nearly two-and-a-half decades.
"It's disheartening to see, you know, when you spend 24 years of your life, you're expecting to retire from a place, and then, all of a sudden, to have everything snatched out from underneath you," said McGaha.
Statement from G4S:
“G4S Government Solutions political donations are not made by the company itself. They come from committees, which are funded by personal contributions from company employees. G4S Government Solutions is unable to comment on the ongoing negotiations other than to say that we continue to negotiate with the Transport Workers Union to work towards a successful resolution.” – G4S spokesperson Susan Pitcher
Space Center firefighters respond to all kinds of emergencies, ranging from a little boy with a scraped knee at the Visitors Center to a massive fire at the vehicle assembly building, deep within the property.
The union alleges that G4S Government Solutions wants to cut pay and benefits 20 percent.
The WFTV review also found that the company and its properties have political committees that donated to many familiar Florida names, in recent years, from former Gov. Charlie Crist to U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson.
They also donated to powerful south Florida brothers Lincoln Diaz-Balart, now a lobbyist, and to his brother, Mario, a congressman, and national names, too, like Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
And they contributed to local candidates like former Orlando Police Department chief and current U.S. House candidate Val Demings.
G4S-affiliated PACS have given federal candidates at least $94,000 since 2010.
Space Center firefighters said they feel like David to the G4S Government Solutions Goliath.
G4S Government Solutions political donations are not made by the company itself. They come from committees, which are funded by personal contributions from company employees.
NASA said they are not getting involved in the contract dispute.
9 Investigates: Firefighters battle well-connected contractor at KSC
9 Investigates criticism of arts center CEO deleted after "draft" assessment
9 Investigates why hate crimes aren't being reported to feds
9 Investigates cost of bringing Lake Apopka back to life
9 Investigates: Volusia County parents up in arms, say autistic children…