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Firefighters receive collective bargaining rights

The newly formed act will allow firefighters to talk to their employer in terms of public safety and in doing their jobs more safely
The new act will allow discussions between first responders and agencies that employ them

Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act will ensure that every state allows discussions between first responders and the agencies that employ them.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill to give collective bargaining rights to fire fighters and other public safety officers.

The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act assures that fire fighters in every state will have the right to talk to their employer about how to improve public safety and do their jobs more safely. The initiative was included in a supplemental appropriation bill adopted by a vote of 239-182.

"Seventy-five years after passage of the National Labor Relations Act, fire fighters are a step closer to having the same rights that workers in the private sector have had since 1935," International Association of Fire Fighters General President Harold Schaitberger said.

While most fire fighters and law enforcement officers are already provided bargaining rights under state laws, too many public safety officers do not even have the ability to present ideas about how they can better protect the public safety. The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act will ensure that every state allows discussions between first responders and the agencies that employ them, and will promote productive partnerships between labor and management.

Collective bargaining is especially important in light of the fiscal crisis facing many localities. Over the past two years, fire fighters have offered millions of dollars in concessions and given back raises and benefits previously agreed to in order to prevent cuts that would undermine public safety. The Senate will take up the measure following its July 4 recess. 

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