Dear Representatives Stauber and Spanberger,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to express our strong support and gratitude for introducing H.R. 3225, the “Public Employer-Employee Cooperation Act.” Last year, this same legislation had 227 cosponsors—more than half the Members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Its passage is one of the highest priorities for our organization.
The legislation you have introduced would recognize the fundamental right of public safety employees—primarily law enforcement officers and firefighters—to form and join unions and bargain collectively with their employers over wages, hours, and working conditions without undermining existing State collective bargaining laws. Because this right has not been recognized, public safety employees are denied any opportunity to influence the decisions which affect their careers and livelihoods. They have no way to influence the decisions that impact their personal safety or the safety of those they protect.
Public safety occupations are unique, and their labor relations need to reflect that. The legislation would empower the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to govern the labor-management relationship in those cases where State laws are not in substantial compliance with the bill’s basic, minimal requirements. The bill specifically prohibits strikes and lockouts and would not change any State’s existing right-to-work laws.
It is also important to recognize and challenge a pervasive myth that law enforcement labor organizations and unions oppose police reform or that they are somehow an obstacle to police accountability and transparency. Just the opposite is true—contracts between a police-bargaining unit and their employers are negotiated and those details made public. A good contract is mutually agreed upon and fair to employers and employees alike.
The men and women in police and fire departments put their lives on the line every day to protect our streets and neighborhoods and they have a right to be involved in the decisions which affect them—something they cannot do as long as they are prohibited from exercising their rights at the bargaining table. On behalf of the more than 356,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I am proud to offer our support for this legislation. If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in our Washington office.