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Labor Headlines

US labour news headlines from LabourStart

Collective Bargaining May Become Law
Posted On: 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.

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