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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) slipped an amendment into the Senate Supplemental appropriations bill that will force states to collectively bargain with public safety employees–police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel. States would be forced to permit bargaining over wages, hours, and all terms and conditions of employment.

This amendment, exactly like a bill offered by Sen. Gregg (R-NH) supported by Sens. Brown (R-Mass.), Collins (R-Maine), Johanns (R-Neb.), Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Snowe (R-Maine) would end local control and flexibility by forcing the minority that has chosen not to collectively bargain to do so. Some states do not allow collective bargaining – this amendment violates a clear federalist divide.

“Collective bargaining is nothing more than a vehicle used by the union-bosses to hold state budgets hostage. And worst of all, it is now being forced upon the states by an overbearing federal government pandering to union contributors,” said AWF Executive Director Brian Johnson. “As evident from the recent bankruptcy filing by Vallejo, CA because they could not afford the public safety union workers salaries which made up 74 percent of the city budget – everyone loses.”

Additionally, this amendment will may deter or even eliminate volunteer firefighting. Firefighters unions vehemently oppose volunteer firefighters because they reduce the need for paid firefighters. They levy stiff internal fines against unionized firefighters who volunteer off-duty. By requiring all states and localities to collectively bargain, this amendment would make it easier for unions to crack down on volunteer firefighting.

Nationally, there are approximately 1.1 million firefighters, of that, 830,000 are volunteers. “That’s 72 percent of all firefighters who could be negatively affected or eliminated because these Senators want to give a kick-back to their union friends,” added Johnson.