Atlanta, GA Local 134 is the latest Georgia affiliate to win collective bargaining rights after successfully lobbying the Atlanta City Council. The council voted 14-0 on October 18 in favor of an ordinance to enact Georgia State Statute 25-5, the Fire Fighters Mediation Act, giving fire fighters the right to bargain collectively with their employer regarding benefits and other terms and conditions of employment.
Although the state statute was passed in 1971 when Jimmy Carter was governor, very few Georgia locals have been able to enact the statute because, until recently, members have been largely unaware of the benefits the law provided. Through extensive member education and coordinated lobbying efforts, Georgia affiliates are now able to bring these ordinances to fruition.
“As we continue the fight to pass a national collective bargaining bill, local government victories like this one in Atlanta are very important. This win is a beacon of hope for all of us and proof that it is possible,” says General President Edward Kelly. “I commend our Local l34 brothers and sisters on a job well done.”
“This has been a long time coming, but decision makers are now becoming increasingly willing to consider putting labor-friendly concepts into action,” says 12th District Vice President Walt Dix. “Congratulations to our Atlanta Local 134 brothers and sisters on a job well done. We hope with the success of collective bargaining in the City of South Fulton and now Atlanta, both labor and management in other municipalities will be encouraged to follow their lead.”
Improving wages and benefits and upgrading fire department resources has long been a top priority for Atlanta Local 134. After negotiating the first significant wage increase for Atlanta fire fighters in 15 years in 2019, Local 134 leaders were ready to do more, and shifted their focus to collective bargaining.“We know that if we want to retain our most seasoned fire fighters and keep everyone safe on the job, then we need improved benefits and upgraded fire department resources,” says Local 134 President Paul Gerdis. “Through collective bargaining, I am confident that we will be able to find solutions that fit within the city’s budget.”
As the current mayor decided not to run for reelection, a new mayor will assume office in January 2022. It is expected Local 134 will negotiate its first contract with the new administration.