Looming Senate bill would force states to allow unionization of public safety workers

I wrote about this legislation in my column two weeks ago, but the Wall Street Journal has an update on a bill making it’s way through the Senate that would force states that don’t to allow public safety workers to unionize to permit collective bargaining:

If the legislation passes and states choose not to grant the minimum collective-bargaining rights outlined in the bill, the Federal Labor Relations Authority, which oversees labor-management relations for federal employees, would step in and implement collective-bargaining rights for these workers.

The House passed a version of the bill in 2007. If enacted, the legislation would be a significant victory for unions, which are smarting over the failure of Democrats to pass a separate, broader bill that would have made it easier for unions to organize workers, especially in the private sector, where union membership has been in decline for years.

The public-safety bargaining bill was first introduced in the mid-1990s. Union officials say they now have their best shot to pass it, but that time could run out if Democrats don’t act soon and go on to lose several Senate seats in November.

Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid is responsible for introducing the bill, but the bill also has Republican co-sponsors:

Republican Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska called the bill “reasonable.” “For several years now, we’ve seen the benefit of a similar policy in Nebraska which prevents public employees from going on strike while helping to establish reasonable compensation ranges.” The other Republican co-sponsors in the Senate are Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

If the bill passes, say goodbye to the American tradition of volunteer firefighters and hello to even bigger public-sector unions.

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