For Immediate Release
July 17, 2007
Contact: Bill Glanz
Fire Fighters Secure Major Legislative Victory
Bi-partisan Strategy and Support Win Fire Fighters Collective Bargaining Rights
WASHINGTON, D.C. – International Association of Fire Fighters General President Harold Schaitberger issued this statement today on a historic bi-partisan U.S. House of Representatives vote on H.R. 980, giving all public safety workers the right to collectively bargain:
“The IAFF has been leading the fight for these basic, fundamental rights for 50 years, so the strong bi-partisan vote today by the U.S. House of Representatives to give fire fighters collective bargaining rights is nothing short of historic for those who are sworn to protect our nation and for the American Labor Movement.
“The men and women who risk their lives everyday deserve a seat at the table to discuss workplace issues, including their own safety while they perform a dangerous job, and this victory is the first step to making that happen,” he stated.
Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI) was the primary sponsor of the bill since 1995. Rep. John J. Duncan (R-TN) was the lead Republican cosponsor.
Chairman George Miller (D-CA) and Ranking Member Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) of the Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee voiced their support, and H.R 980 passed the committee with only one dissenting vote, 42-1. H.R 980 garnered 280 co-sponsors including 70 Republicans. Only 12 of the more than 2,900 bills introduced this Congress have attained a majority of Congress.
In today’s vote, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H.R 980, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007 by a margin of 314-97. A majority of Democrats and Republicans in the House supported the measure.
“Our fundamental principal of helping candidates get elected who support fire fighters, regardless of political party, is what made the difference,” Schaitberger said. “When House members from both parties received calls from fire fighters back home who helped get them elected, they were eager to offer their support.”
“We now look forward to working with the U.S. Senate for passage of the bill there and we will lobby the President for his signature when a final proposal ultimately reaches his desk.
The actual proposal assures four basic rights. (1) The right to organize, form a union and be recognized as the exclusive representative for employees within a specific fire department. (2) The right to bargain with a respective public employer over wages and other terms and conditions of employment. (3) The right to have a neutral third party assist in mediating any disputed issues. (4) And, the right to reduce negotiated agreements into a binding, legally enforceable contract.
The International Association of Fire Fighters, headquartered in Washington, DC, represents more than 280,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics who protect 80 percent of the nation’s population. More information is available at www.iaff.org.