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Collective Bargaining

Senate Rejects Spending Bill Providing Public Safety Collective Bargaining Rights
Jul 27, 2010

Late last week, the Senate rejected advancing the supplemental appropriations bill approved by the House of Representatives (H.R. 4899).  The House-passed version of the bill included an amendment (pdf) providing public safety employees with collective bargaining rights. Specifically, the amendment incorporated provisions of the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (PSEECA) (H.R. 413; S. 1611, 3194), which would have provided firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical personnel with collective bargaining rights in states and localities that do not currently provide them, establish minimum standards for collective bargaining rights for these groups, and give the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) the power to regulate and enforce these rights. The House tacked on this provision, in addition to other domestic spending measures, before it approved the bill on July 1. It is not surprising that the Senate rejected this amended version, considering last May, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had also introduced the PSEECA as an amendment to the Senate’s appropriations bill, but withdrew it shortly thereafter. It is likely that the House will take up the Senate-approved war appropriations bill that does not contain the additional spending measures before Congress adjourns for the August recess.

Given that the standalone bill has little chance of advancing this legislative term, lawmakers in the House likely included the PSEECA in the larger spending bill to increase its odds of passing

Articale provided by Washington D.C. Employment Law Update

Collective Bargaining May Become Law
Jul 17, 2010

By Susan Nicol Kyle - News

Collective bargaining for all of the nation's public safety workers is a step closer to becoming law.

The measure -- that's been in the works for about 16 years -- has been included in the House Supplemental Appropriations Bill.

IAFF and FOP officials are working closely with legislators to insure that the amendments presented are acceptable, and will gain the necessary votes.

"We've had bi-partisan support in the past, and we still do," said Barry Kasinitz, IAFF director of government affairs.

He sees the inclusion of the measure in a bill that funds the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and relief from the massive oil leak as the perfect vehicle to move it through.

Supplemental appropriations -- considered as a must pass bill -- is expected to be concluded before members of Congress take their month-long August recess.

Kasinitz said the collective bargaining initiative will require employers of career firefighters, EMS personnel, police officers and other public safety to meet and discuss issues.

He was quick to dispel information that the measure is a quiet maneuver to eliminate volunteer fire departments. "There is nothing here that in any way hinders the volunteer fire service," Kasinitz said.

Further, he said if career firefighters want a union, they should be able to form one.

"We are not doing this to increase the number of career firefighters or the number of union members."

A number of articles and blogs have surfaced accusing the IAFF of trying to bolster their ranks and snuffing out volunteers across the country.

Kasinitz vows that's not the case. He said the measure will enable career public safety officers to work in more safe environments and address other issues with their employers.

The NVFC is remaining neutral on the bill.

The organization took the stance after an inclusion that offers job protection for career personnel who want to volunteer when they are off-duty.

The section reads: "to permit parties in states subject to the regulations and procedures ... to negotiate provisions that would prohibit an employee from engaging in part-time employment or volunteer activities during off-duty hours."

If the measure is signed into law, unions will not be able to stipulate or negotiate that as a condition of employment, volunteering is not allowed.

"That protection is very important," said David Finger, NVFC governmental affairs director.

The proposed legislation does not, however, prevent the IAFF from kicking those who volunteer out of their locals.

The CFSI is monitoring the legislation as it does with all emergency services-related issues. But, it is not actively involved, explained Bill Webb, CFSI executive director.

U.S. House of Representatives Gives Fire Fighters Collective Bargaining Rights
Jul 17, 2010

July 1, 2010 -- The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill to give collective bargaining rights to fire fighters and other public safety officers.

The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act assures that fire fighters in every state will have the right to talk to their employer about how to improve public safety and do their jobs more safely. The initiative was included in a supplemental appropriation bill adopted by a vote of 239-182.

“Seventy-five years after passage of the National Labor Relations Act, fire fighters are a step closer to having the same rights that workers in the private sector have had since 1935,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger.

While most fire fighters and law enforcement officers are already provided bargaining rights under state laws, too many public safety officers do not have the ability to present ideas about how they can better protect the public safety. The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act will ensure that every state allows discussions between first responders and the agencies that employ them, and will promote productive partnerships between labor and management.

Collective bargaining is especially important in light of the fiscal crisis facing many localities. Over the past two years, fire fighters have offered millions of dollars in concessions and given back raises and benefits previously agreed to in order to prevent cuts that would undermine public safety.

The Senate will take up the measure following its July 4 recess.

To view the bills please use the links below

HR413   S1611

Page Last Updated: Jul 27, 2010 (16:36:50)
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