Bipartisan Legislation Allows Police Officers, Firefighters and EMS Personnel to Form Labor Unions, Collectively Bargain
FLINT—Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-08) today announced new bipartisan legislation to guarantee the labor rights of public safety officers such as police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel.
Many states do not provide all state and local public safety employees the ability to collectively bargain for fair wages and hours, and some states prevent them from even forming a labor union. Congressman Kildee’s Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, supported by Republicans and Democrats and introduced along with Congressman Pete Stauber (MN-08), will set a federal floor on public safety officer labor rights, ensuring police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel can form a labor union and collectively bargain for hours and wages, and provide resolution mechanisms for impasses during negotiations.
“All workers, including police officers, firefighters and EMS workers, should be able to join a union and bargain for better wages and safer working conditions,” said Kildee. “I am proud to work with Republicans and Democrats to expand collective bargaining rights for public safety officers.”
“As a former police officer who started a union in Duluth, Minnesota, I know how vital labor rights are for the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day in service to our communities,” said Congressman Stauber. “These past couple of years have been especially difficult for our public safety officers, so it’s more important than ever before to ensure they have a voice in the workplace. I am proud to partner with twelve of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to strengthen the workplace rights of law enforcement officers, firefighters, and EMS personnel.”
Under this bill, the Federal Labor Relations Authority would have three months to determine which states do not provide the baseline labor rights. This includes providing the ability to form and join a labor union, collectively bargain regarding hours, wages and terms and conditions of employment. States would then have two years to comply.
“The National Troopers Coalition and Michigan Association of Police Organizations stand with Congressman Kildee in his fight to ensure collective bargaining rights for police officers,” said Nate Johnson, chairman, National Troopers Coalition and Vice President, Michigan Association of Police Organizations.
“Law enforcement protects our communities every day and should have the same labor protections to bargain for better working conditions so we can recruit and retain the highest quality of applicants ensuring trust and confidence in the communities we serve,” Johnson added.
“I can’t thank Congressmen Kildee enough for introducing the bipartisan Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act. Collective Bargaining rights for Law Enforcement, Firefighters, and EMS workers allows us to be able to negotiate for safe working environments and equipment,” said said Michael J. Sarnowski, president, Bangor Township Michigan Fire Fighters International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local #1682.
“Covid-19 is one of the things that we were exposed to and needed better protective equipment to be provided in enough time and quantity to keep us all safe,” Sarnowsk added. “Having the right to negotiate gives us the ability to request safety equipment not only for Covid-19, but all hazardous conditions we are exposed to while trying to keep the communities we work in safe,”
“The IAFF applauds Congressman Kildee for introducing the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act,” said Edward A. Kelly, General President, International Association of Fire Fighters.
“Today, tens of thousands of fire fighters and EMS personnel nationwide lack a collective voice with their employer to advocate for themselves, their families, and the communities they took an oath to protect,” Kelly added. “It is critical that we give a voice to the hardworking men and women who dedicate their careers to keeping our communities safe, The IAFF urges Congress to pass this common sense, bipartisan legislation and protect the basic labor rights of American workers.”
“The men and women in our nation’s police and fire departments put their lives on the line every day to protect our streets and neighborhoods and they have the right to be heard on workplace issues that affect them and their families,” said Patrick Yoes, national president, Fraternal Order of Police.
“We applaud Congressmen Kildee and Stauber for introducing the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act,” Yoes added. “This bill is a top priority for the FOP, which would recognize the fundamental right of public safety officers to bargain collectively.”
“Law enforcement officers across the country, who put their lives on the line each day to protect us all, are being denied the basic American rights of collective bargaining for fair compensation and safer working conditions,” said Bill Johnson, executive director, National Association of Police Organizations.
“We know that public safety is best protected through effective partnerships between first responders on the front line and the agencies that employ them,” Johnson added. “The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act will ensure that officers can meet with local officials to discuss how they do their jobs and how best to protect the public. We stand with Congressmen Kildee and Stauber in support of this important bill and thank them for their efforts on behalf of America’s law enforcement community.”
This legislation is the latest effort in Congressman Kildee’s continued support of public safety officers. Last week, Congressman Kildee announced new legislation to increase funding for mid-Michigan police departments. In December, Kildee secured $4.3 million for eight mid-Michigan law enforcement agencies and the Michigan State Police, to make critical equipment upgrades, improve police officer training and meet the public safety needs of each community. Last Congress, Kildee also introduced legislation to protect firefighters from firefighting foam containing toxic PFAS chemicals.