Gov. John Hickenlooper sent a letter today to Senate President John Morse and House Speaker Mark Ferrandino that outlines his position on Senate Bill 13-025, the Firefighter Collective Bargaining Act.
"After careful review of the legislation, the concerns of relevant parties and the policies of this administration, we cannot support SB13-025 in its current form and urge the Colorado General Assembly to consider alternatives that respect both the political rights of firefighters and the ability of local governments to make locally accordant decisions regarding collective bargaining," the letter says.
In the letter, the governor praises firefighters for their work -- particularly during the 2012 wildfires -- and he discusses his relationship with the firefighters' union when he was Mayor of Denver. He also explains why it's not a matter of state interest to require mandatory bargaining between a locality and its firefighters.
"It is a matter of state interest, however, that the political rights of firefighters to engage in meaningful dialogue with their local elected representatives, including petitioning for local elections, be fully protected," the letter says. "Firefighters ought to have the opportunity to meet with their employers and discuss work conditions, safety, equipment and other issues that impact their lives, families and future well-being without intimidation or fear of retribution."
Hickenlooper urges lawmakers to reconsider the legislation and work on a different approach that meets the following goals: ensures protection of firefighters to exercise their legitimate political rights; affords an opportunity for firefighters to hold meaningful discussions with their employers on issues of concern such as workplace safety, equipment needs and other employment issues; and respects local control.
"We stand ready to work with you in this endeavor and toward the goal of finding a solution that can address the concerns of both firefighters and respects local control," the letter says.