Last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) proposed an amendment (S. Amdt. 4174) to an Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill that would extend collective-bargaining rights to all public safety workers employed by states or localities.  In its findings, the language includes:

    (4) The absence of adequate cooperation between public safety employers and employees has implications for the security of employees and can affect interstate and intrastate commerce. The lack of such labor-management cooperation can detrimentally impact the upgrading of police and fire services of local communities, the health and well-being of public safety officers, and the morale of the fire and police departments. Additionally, these factors could have significant commercial repercussions. Moreover, providing minimal standards for collective bargaining negotiations in the public safety sector can prevent industrial strife between labor and management that interferes with the normal flow of commerce.

    (5) Many States and localities already provide public safety officers with collective bargaining rights comparable to or greater than the rights and responsibilities set forth in this title, and such State and local laws should be respected.

The amendment language is identical to the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009 (S. 1611) introduced in March 2009 by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH). This bill had been introduced in successive congressional sessions since the 1990’s, including the 110th Congress, where it had strong bipartisan support before faltering. As reported earlier this year in The Hill:

In 2007, the bill passed the House with more than 300 votes and was in a strong position to clear the Senate. But President George W. Bush issued a veto threat and the Senate bill’s lead Democratic sponsor, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), fell ill. The legislation then became overrun with amendments and subsequently fizzled on the Senate floor.

On March 10, 2010, the House Education and Labor Committee held hearings on the bill, transcripts of which are available here.  Seeing as there were at least five GOP co-sponsors to Sen. Gregg’s similar bill, it is highly likely that this amendment will pass and become part of the Supplemental. Deliberation on the Amendment and Supplemental is scheduled to resume today.

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