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A House subcommittee recently held a hearing on H.R. 413, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act.

Strongly supported by organized labor, particularly the MTD-affiliated International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), the legislation would extend collective bargaining rights to public safety workers like fire fighters and police officers.

The bill, which the IAFF calls its legislative priority, enjoys strong bipartisan support.  A version of it passed the House with more than 300 votes in 2007.  It stalled in the Senate, not because it didn’t enjoy substantial support, but because President Bush threatened to veto it.

According to published reports, this version of the bill enjoys solid support in both chambers. 

Among those testifying was Jim Tate, president of Fort Worth, TX-based IAFF Local 440, who observed that his co-workers have been far more efficient since gaining their collective bargaining rights two years ago.

“Withholding the right to collectively bargain is a denial of a measure of fairness and dignity to fire fighters who put their lives on the line day in and day out for the communities they serve,” he stressed