National Association of Counties
Washington, D.C.


 Collective bargaining mandate passes House

By Jeff Arnold

Earlier this month, the House passed the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (H.R. 413). The bill was attached to the Iraq-Afghanistan War Supplemental Appropriations legislation, (H.R. 4899), and may soon be considered in the Senate.

The bill mandates that state and local governments enter into collective bargaining agreements with their public safety employees and provides minimum collective bargaining standards for state and local police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians personnel.

The legislation has serious fiscal and administrative implications for counties because no funding is provided for state or local implementation.

Under H.R. 413, every state’s laws must, at a minimum, provide the following bargaining rights to public safety employees:

  • grant public safety officers the right to form and join a labor organization that is, or seeks to be, recognized as the exclusive bargaining representative of the employees
  • require public safety employers to recognize the employees’ labor organization and agree to bargain with the union
  • provide for bargaining over hours, wages, and terms and conditions of employment, and
  • require enforcement through state courts of all rights, responsibilities and protections provided by state law.

All states may be affected including those that already have collective bargaining agreements, because the legislation provides no exemption for such states.

The Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) would review each state’s collective bargaining agreement to determine if it complies with the minimum bargaining standards. Those states that fail to meet the FLRA criteria would have to change their laws to come into compliance, or they would be subject to regulation of collective bargaining agreements by the FLRA. The FLRA would have considerable authority to, among other things, determine the appropriateness of the bargaining units, conduct hearings to resolve disputes involving unfair labor practices, and supervise and conduct elections.

NACo has joined with the National League of Cities, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, International Public Management Association-Human Resources and other organizations to oppose this legislation.

Contact your senators and urge them to oppose adding the provisions of the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act onto the Supplemental Appropriations Bill, or any other piece of legislation.