The International Association of Fire Fighters’ (IAFF) top legislative priority, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007 — which guarantees collective bargaining rights for every fire fighter in the nation — has overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives.
The bill, HR 980, won the support of a majority of the Repiblicans and Democrats in Congress, passing by a margin of 314-97.
“For more than 50 years, the IAFF has battled to guarantee every professional fire fighter the right to collectively bargain,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “This is just the first step, but it’s truly an historic moment for our union.”
HR 980 assures four basic rights: the right to organize and form a union and be recognized as the exclusive representative for employees within a specific fire department; the right to bargain with respective public employers over wages and other terms and conditions of employment; the right to have a neutral third party assist in mediating any disputed issues; and the right to reduce negotiated agreements into binding, legally enforceable contracts.
Thanks to the IAFF’s aggressive grassroots efforts, HR 980 garnered 280 cosponsors, including 70 Republicans. Only 12 of the more than 2,900 bills introduced in this Congress have attained a congressional majority – 218 members – as cosponsors. “Clearly, our grassroots operation — the calls from our members in the field — succeeded in elevating this issue and generating support across all parties in the House,” Schaitberger notes.
The IAFF will now focus its efforts in the Senate and, ultimately, on lobbying the president to sign the bill into law when it reaches his desk.