“The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act” would mandate union monopoly bargaining for state and local public safety employees. (See: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-413
It would force police, fire, ambulance and corrections employees to create collective bargaining units to cover employees and likely produce higher taxes, higher deficits and higher tensions between public sector employees and the public they serve.
I am immediately cynical of this legislation, because it would appear as though the sponsors are attempting to go through the back door, under a cloak of secrecy and attach it to a spending bill as if it were some kind of parasite, which, it is.
This monstrosity is contained in the “Amendment to the Senate Engrossed Amendment to the Text of HR 4899 – Supplemental War Appropriations Bill”. (See: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-4899
The Public Safety Collective Bargaining provisions are buried on page 88, Chapter 4, “Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act”.
Public Safety Collective Bargaining: The House amendment guarantees collective bargaining rights for the nation’s first responders employed by States and localities. Under the language, states would administer and enforce their own labor laws, while the Federal Labor Relations Authority would step in only where such laws do not exist or do not meet minimum standards. The language prohibits public safety officers from engaging in a lockout, sickout, work slowdown, strike, or any other organized job action that will disrupt the delivery of emergency services.
In short; we-public safety employees-would no longer have the right to choose union representation or not.
Gone will be “right to work” as we know it.
Right to work laws prohibit the closed and union shop. A right to work law secures the right of the individual to decide whether they want to join and support a union. There are exceptions, such as rail and airline employees.
With open shop rule, an employee cannot be forced to join or pay the equivalent of union dues, nor can they be fired if they join a union. It is the employees’ right to work, regardless of whether they are in a union.
Yes; this means volunteers! Volunteers are “employees”. Therefore; this means you and any career folks who aren’t currently covered under a collective bargaining agreement.
But, how could this God forsaken bill be this close to reality and yet; many in the fire service are completely unaware of its existence? Legislation that could become so expensive as to bankrupt a fire district deserves some serious attention. I am all for transparency but not invisibility. I want our government to deal with the People’s business in the open, during the daylight hours and reject the idea that legislation that stinks will somehow smell better if it is “bundled” correctly.
This bill this time around, since versions of this bill have been around since 2001, was introduced by Michigan Congressman Dale Kildee and New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg. It would appear that the late night meeting with Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and the biggest unions just after November 2nd was an attempt to “thank” the unions for the $53 million that they pumped into the elections this year. You know; no strings attached.
Knowing that a bill unionizing the entire public safety sector wouldn’t even make it out of committee by conventional means, they had to resort to trickery/chicanery in order to get it so close to becoming law.
When I read what was attached to this spending bill for our men and women in the armed services, it made my stomach wretch. THAT is how you move garbage in Washington. You want to get something through government that could never make it out otherwise, then burying it as an amendment towards the end of the bill could almost guarantee passage; if it wasn’t such an old trick.
To be clear…
I am NOT against unions. I was in a union. I have friends in unions. I have been on both sides of the fence. I can take them or leave them.
I AM against anything that takes away my right to choose whether or not I want a union to represent me.
I am against the influence peddling by powerful union lobbies.
I am against unions using membership money for elections and especially from those industries that were bailed out by the American taxpayer.
I am against the scare tactics employed by the unions and though public employees do not have the right to strike, there have been strikes in the past. And just the thought of not having someone to respond if you have an emergency is a very powerful tool.
In my opinion, the reason that there has been a push to unionize the public sector is because the numbers have been shrinking in the private sector. For the first time in our nation’s history, there are more public sector union employees than private sector union employees.
I am not sure what the end game will be, but consider this:
What is the likelihood that a village of one thousand residents will be able to afford this partnership between their fire department and a collective bargaining representative?
If it has already proven to be unsustainable in other communities, then why would we want to expand it?
To summarize, the legislation that is being proposed will:
1) Force YOU to join a union.
2) Overturn the right to work in 26 states.
3) Increase costs with no guarantee of better service.
4) There will be no more flexibility. Everything will be legislated and contained in a contract.
5) Volunteer departments as we know them will cease to be.
Contact your representatives and FIGHT this!
It’s something that, quite literally, we cannot afford.
The opinions and views expressed are those of the article’s author. They do not reflect the opinions and views of fireengineering.com, Fire Engineering Magazine or PennWell Corporation.
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