On July 17, 2007, the House passed Collective Bargaining for Public Safety Personnel, H.R. 980, which would provide firefighters and police officers with basic workplace collective bargaining rights. In the post-9/11 era of protecting America from terrorism, in which we are asking our police officers, firefighters, and other public safety officers to take on even more responsibilities than they had before, the least we can do is ensure that they have basic rights to seek better wages and benefits.
Speaker Pelosi and other House Democrats joined several dozen police officers, firefighters and other public safety officers at a rally at the Capitol to celebrate passage of the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007. Watch>>
Specifically, this legislation:
Provides police officers, firefighters and other public safety officers with basic collective bargaining rights, without undermining state authority or existing state laws. This legislation establishes modest minimum standards to be included in state laws, and gives states broad flexibility to craft, implement and enforce their own collective bargaining law. This legislation would not affect a majority of states because their laws already meet or exceed the minimum standards.
Establishes basic minimum standards. The bill would establish minimum standards for state collective bargaining laws for public safety personnel, including the right to join a union; the right to have their union recognized by their employer; the right to bargain collectively over hours, wages and terms and conditions of employment; a mediation or arbitration process for resolving an impasse in negotiations; and enforcement of contracts through state courts.
Enhances public safety by encouraging labor-management partnerships. Labor-management partnerships, which are built on bargaining relationships, enhance public safety. For example, studies have shown that cooperation between public safety employers and employees reduces firefighter fatalities and improves fire protection services. Cooperation between public safety employers and employees also make police and fire departments more effective by enabling rank-and-file workers to provide input into the most efficient methods to provide services.
Additionally, this bill addresses the unique responsibilities of the public safety community and respects the rights of states. It outlaws strikes by firefighters, police officers, and other public safety personnel and does not interfere with state right-to-work laws; preserves the rights of volunteer firefighters; protects all existing certifications, recognitions, elections and collective bargaining agreements; and exempts all states with a state collective bargaining law for public safety officers equal to or greater than the bill's basic minimum standards.