Athens-Clarke County Local 2795 wins historic collective bargaining rights

June 12 • 2023

Professional Fire Fighters of Athens-Clarke County Local 2795 members and supporters pose in Athens-Clarke County’s City Hall to celebrate the passing of Title 25, which grants fire fighters the right to collective bargaining.

In an impressive display of solidarity, the Professional Fire Fighters of Athens-Clarke County Local 2795 successfully lobbied Athens-Clarke County to pass an ordinance enacting Georgia State Statue 25-5, the Firefighters’ Mediation Act. The ordinance gives fire fighters the right to collectively bargain with their employer.

“It was inspiring to witness members of Local 2795’s relentless commitment to educating their city council and within their community,” said 12th District Vice President Walt Dix. “Their hard work and dedication to organizing paid off in a major way, and I congratulate our Local 2795 members on a job well done.”

The Firefighters’ Mediation Act, passed in 1971 during Jimmy Carter’s time as governor, has had a lasting impact on Georgia’s fire fighters. To enact the statute, an ordinance must be passed by the local governing authority. South Fulton and Atlanta are the only other cities in the state to have successfully passed a Title 25 ordinance, granting their fire fighters the right to collective bargaining

What began two years ago as a simple dues collection request to the county from newly elected Local 2795 President Emily Thompson Alger turned into a lengthy and ultimately successful campaign, with local leadership, members, and the community lobbying the city council on the benefits of collective bargaining.

“I am so proud of the work our local put in to make our voices heard. We worked diligently with IAFF staff to develop a strategy to establish relationships with all our commissioners on both sides of the aisle,” says Thompson Alger. “We invested in organizing our members, developed a communications strategy, and met with citizens, business owners, and commissioners, and answered all their questions. It was a lot of meetings, late nights, and work, but we did it, and Athens-Clarke County will be better and safer for it.”

The Firefighters’ Mediation Act was written and shepherded by Commissioner Jesse Houle. The vote passed 9 to 1.