05.13.08

Enzi Rejects "Fatally Flawed" Proposal to Force Unionization on State, Local First Responders Says Bill is "Terrible Policy," Would Impose Enormous Unfunded Mandates, Diminish National Security, and Trample Worker Rights

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-WY, Ranking Member of theSenate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP Committee), said he isstrongly opposed to the Democrat proposal to impose unionization on state and local firstresponders, adding that the bill would jeopardize national security, impose an enormousunfunded mandate on states and towns, and trample the rights of first responders in theworkplace. “Make no mistake: the only direct beneficiaries of this legislation are laborunions,” Enzi said. “The bill does not contain a dime of money or a single provision thatwould increase the pay or benefits of any firefighter, police officer or first responder.There is nothing in this bill that would enhance their working conditions, make their jobssafer, or their retirement more secure. It only imposes totally unfunded costs on states,cities and towns that will make those exact results less, not more, likely.” Enzi said that the bill, HR 980, the so-called Public Employer-EmployeeCooperation Act, would jeopardize national security by eliminating the right of states totake certain items off the bargaining table, like manning and staffing levels, training andjob requirements, deadly force rules, drug-testing, merit pay and promotion. “If you don’t think this is a problem, look at the utterly shameful situation inmajor league baseball. Despite widespread documented and suspected use of drugs, wehave seen the inability to achieve any meaningful resolution even after years and years ofcollective bargaining. Here’s the difference: Baseball is a game. Public safety is not.Imagine if there were reports of drug use among your local first responders, but yourtown could do nothing about it? That’s what this bill would allow.” Enzi, a former mayor and the Senate’s only accountant, said the bill would impose an “enormous unfunded mandate” on local governments trying to balance their budgets. “The administrative costs alone of collective bargaining represent a verysignificant concern for states, cities, and especially small towns. These additionalrequirements are enormously costly and burdensome,” Enzi said. “This bill wouldimpose those costs by federal mandate, but would not provide one single penny of federalmoney to help offset those costs. The Democrat Congress wants to buy off big labor, andis trying to stick America’s small towns with the bill.” The bill would force collective bargaining on states but would not require orensure fundamental employee rights, including the right of a worker to decide whether tojoin a union by secret ballot. It would not require unions to report on their financespublicly or ensure that workers have the right information about their union’s finances,and it fails to contain any guarantees to workers about how their union dues money canbe spent. Enzi highlighted several key problems with the process by which the Senate isconsidering the legislation, which he called “terrible policy being badly executed.” Enzipointed out that the proposal would overturn nearly eight decades of national law,conflicts with the laws of as many as 26 states, and would raise profound Constitutionalissues - yet neither the HELP Committee nor the Senate as a whole have had anymeaningful opportunity to debate the bill. “This is another labor bill that isn’t going through the Labor Committee,” Enzisaid. “Instead, we’re playing Gotcha Politics yet again.” “Proponents of this bill want to overhaul decades of federal law and overturn thelaw in a majority of states. You would think the Senate would consider a bill of suchenormous consequence only after careful examination and due process and deliberation,but you would be wrong. This legislation has not had a single Committee hearing or votethis Congress.” ####

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