Monday, May 12, 2008

Workers Rights Are Human Rights

We use them all the time - our firefighters, police officers and emergency medical service personnel. Hardly a day goes by that we don't come into contact either directly or indirectly with these hard working public servants. When we have traffic accidents or emergencies at home or at work these public servants are the first on the scene in our communities. Often risking their own safety in order to serve the public good, these employees of our cities, states and municipalities deserve to have collective bargaining rights.

The problem is that tens of thousands of these public safety officers do not have the right to negotiate with their employers, often leaving our firefighters, police officers and emergency medical personnel without a voice at work. There is a remedy to this situation - it is called the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, or Senate Bill 2123. This bill would go a long way toward remedying a situation that has become unacceptable. It would allow public safety officers the collective bargaining rights they deserve, including the right of public safety officers to bargain over wages, hours and working conditions.

The bill would also provide a dispute resolution mechanism for when there is not agreement between management and labor and it would provide the enforcement of contracts through state courts. The problem is that there are many states that do not offer our public safety personnel minimum bargaining rights. In these states it is very difficult for public servants to organize and ultimately we pay the price. A workforce that does not have the right to organize is less productive and has lower self-esteem on the job.

Our public safety is worth the investment. As a candidate for the US Senate I do not believe we should cut corners when it comes to the needs of our public servants. That is why I support Senate Bill 2123 and would work to pass it into law if elected to the US Senate. This bill already has broad bipartisan support and its companion bill was passed in the US House recently. We owe it to our public safety employees to ensure that they have collective bargaining rights. So let's give them the voice that they deserve.

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