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Friday, December 3, 2010

Mandatory Collective Bargaining for Police, Fire and EMTs on Senate Menu after Thanksgiving

By: Tommy Eden, Attorney

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has announced that he will take up the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (Senate Bill 3194) before adjournment and possibly the week of November 29.

If enacted, states and local governments across the entire United States would be required to engage in collective bargaining with their police, fire, and emergency medical services personnel. The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) would be given responsibility for determining which states are in compliance with the federal law. The FLRA would have the power to adopt regulations defining the scope of collective bargaining. This bill would provide authority for federal interference by the FLRA in employer-employee relationships in state and local governments as follows:

(1) granting public safety employees the right to form and join a labor organization which excludes management and supervisory employees, and which is, or seeks to be, recognized as the exclusive bargaining agent for such employees; and

(2) requiring public safety employers to recognize and agree to bargain with the employees; labor organization. Requires the FLRA to issue regulations establishing rights and responsibilities for public safety employers and employees in states that do not substantially provide for such public safety employee rights and responsibilities. Directs the FLRA in such cases to:

· determine the appropriateness of units for labor organization representation;

· supervise or conduct elections to determine whether a labor organization has been selected as an exclusive representative by a voting majority of the employees in an appropriate unit;

· resolve issues relating to the duty to bargain in good faith;

· conduct hearings and resolve complaints of unfair labor practices; and

· resolve exceptions to arbitrator awards.

If the Senate passes the bill, the House of Representatives is expected to take it up in the lame duck session. The House in July passed the bill as an amendment to a supplemental spending bill with a vote in favor of 239-182. Congress will be in recess next week for the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Common Sense Counsel: contact your Senators and let them know your views at Earlier this week Harry Reid lost in his attempt to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act. Fight now or collectively bargain later.

Tommy Eden is a Lee County native, an attorney with the local office of Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at or 334-246-2901. Blog at