Senate to Consider Gregg-Kennedy's Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act
Today the Senate will begin debate on the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (S. 2123), bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) that would provide basic collective-bargaining rights for all public safety officers while respecting states' autonomy. On Tuesday, the Senate will proceed to a cloture vote on the motion to proceed to the bill, which has 11 Republican co-sponsors. The companion House bill, H.R. 980, passed the House last fall by a vote of 314 to 97, with the support of 98 Republicans.
Senator Judd Gregg and Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the lead sponsors of the legislation, issued the following statements:
Senator Gregg stated, "The Cooperation Act is a bipartisan approach which recognizes and carries out our obligations to public safety officers who work hard every day to ensure that our neighborhoods and communities are safe places to live and raise a family. The legislation protects the rights of public safety officers by allowing them to form or join a union, or to refrain from doing so, without sacrificing safety needs. This bipartisan effort puts the decisions regarding implementation, enforcement, and all major details of the collective bargaining agreement in the hands of individual states. It further protects small towns by ensuring that areas with populations of less than 5,000 or fewer than 25 full time employees are exempt from collective bargaining and that firefighters or E.M.T.s who are employed by a department participating in collective bargaining agreements can still serve their local communities as volunteers."
Senator Kennedy said, "Every day, hundreds of thousands of public safety workers put their lives on the line to protect our communities and our families. Yet large numbers of them have no voice at work to talk about their own safety and their jobs. This basic right should be available to America's first responders. It's a matter of fundamental fairness, and it's essential for public safety as well, especially in these dangerous times. I commend Senator Gregg for his leadership on this vital issue and I urge the Senate to give these courageous men and women the respect they deserve by supporting this long-needed legislation."