As part of your union’s ongoing effort to ensure all fire fighters, paramedics, EMS workers and other public safety employees have a voice in matters of public safety, we have worked with U.S. Congressional Representatives John Duncan (R-TN) and Dan Kildee (D-MI) to reintroduce the Public Safety Employer Employee Cooperation Act. The bill, H.R. 4846, ensures that all fire fighters and other public safety workers have access to basic collective bargaining rights in the workplace.
The re-introduction of the Cooperation Act marks the IAFF’s continued commitment to the rights of our members in a fight that has spanned many years.
While the partisan political environment in Washington, DC, has precluded us from advancing the Cooperation Act in recent years, establishing collective bargaining rights for every fire fighter in America remains one of the IAFF’s top legislative priorities. Based on the many strong relationships our union has built over the years with lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle, the time is right to move forward and renew the case for collective bargaining in the United States Congress.
The bill would provide those who protect the public a stronger collective voice on issues pertaining not only to their own safety, but the safety of the communities they serve. H.R. 4846 outlines five essential rights for all employees, including the right to form and join a union; have a contract; ensure the contract is enforced; bargain over wages, hours and terms of employment; and have a dispute mechanism. While many of our members live in jurisdictions in which these rights currently exist, many others go to work every day without these necessary protections.
The timing of the bill’s introduction is especially advantageous because it precedes the IAFF Legislative Conference, when hundreds of IAFF affiliate leaders from across the country will talk to their elected officials in Washington, DC, and help build support for the bill.
While it’s unlikely that the Cooperation Act will pass Congress this year, we will use this time to educate new members of Congress about the bill and build support, setting the stage for a time, not too far into the future, when circumstances will change and we have the opportunity to pass this legislation. In the meantime, we will lay the groundwork to win this battle.
Harold A. Schaitberger
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