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The national Police and Firefighter Unionization Collective Bargaining bill is bad for the country.
It would attack the sovereignty of Alaskan cities (and other cities around the country).
The bill is called the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009. If this bill becomes law, it would force states and cities to have to accept expensive unionized collective bargaining if the public safety employees voted by simple majority to form a union with collective bargaining.

President Obama supports this bill and U.S Senators Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) are among the cosponsors of the bill (S.1611)


The Police / Fire Collective Bargaining bill is a federal power grab.

Left leaning politicians in the U.S. Congress have been trying to push this bill through starting in 1995.
In 1995 it was called the "Public Safety Employer-Employee Relations Act of 1995" (H.R.1484). That was in the 104th Congress which covers the 2 year time period of 1995 - 1996. The bill (H.R.1484) was sponsored by Representative Dale Kildee (Democrat - Michigan) and had 50 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives.
However, the bill did not go anywhere, even though Democrat Bill Clinton was the president. This is because the 104th Congress was the first time in 40 years that Republicans had a majority in both the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. So the bill (H.R.1484) never even came to a vote in either the House or Senate.

In the 105th Congress (1997-1998) the bill was reintroduced as the "Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of  1997" (H.R. 1173). Note the slight change in the title from "Relations" to "Cooperation". This bill was introduced by Rep. Dale Kildee (D- Michigan). But again the bill did not get anywhere. It has been introduced in every Congress since then, but (fortunately) it has not yet become law.

In 2007 (in the 110th Congress (2007-2008)), the bill was introduced as the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007" (S.2123). Some of the U.S. Senator cosponsors of S.2123 are:
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois)
Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California)
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-New York)
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut)
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts)
Sen. John Kerry (D-Massachusetts)
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey)
Sen. Olympia Snow (R-Maine)

The U.S. House version of this bill (H.R.980) (same title) passed the U.S. House on July 17, 2007. But the bill never came up for a vote in the U.S. Senate. Even if it had passed in the Senate, it would have been vetoed by President Bush. President Bush was interested in protecting constitutional states' rights. The president's veto is the last safety barrier for preserving our freedoms. But because President Obama is in favor of the bill, that final safety barrier no longer exists.

In 2009 (111th Congress (2009-2010)) the "Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009" (S.1611) was introduced.
S.1611 was introduced on August 6, 2009 by Senator Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire) and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts).
In addition to these 2, there are 25 additional cosponsors - 19 Democrats and 6 Republicans (who could be described as "moderate" Republicans).
Among those 19 Democrat cosponsors of S.1611 is: Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska)
The 6 Republican senator cosponsors of S.1611 are:
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts)
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska)
Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Florida) (Note: Mel Martinez is no longer in the Senate.)
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)

In 2010 (still the 111th Congress) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) introduced another bill on April 12, 2010 with the exact same title and text as S.1611. It is called the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009" (S.3194). It was perhaps some sort of tactical maneuver to slip the bill through. This bill has no cosponsors.

The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act passed the U.S. House on July 1, 2010 by being placed inside a supplemental appropriations act (H.R.4899). This bill (H.R.4899) was passed by the U.S. House on July 1, 2010 (roll call 430, 10:34 PM). It was then sent over to the Senate. Some extraneous items (including the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act) were stripped out of the supplemental appropriations bill before it was passed by the Senate.

November 30, 2010 - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduces another bill (S.3991) called the
"Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2010". It is practically identical to the 2009 version (S.1611, S.3194 and H.R. 413). S.3991 has no cosponsors.
S.3991 was reported out of committee on Dec. 1, 2010.

On Dec. 6, 2010 Senator Harry Reid tried to push the bill onto the senate floor but later withdrew.
On Dec. 8, Harry Reid came back and pushed the bill again.
A full senate vote was held to advance the bill (S.3991) on Dec. 8, 2010. Harry Reid needed 60 votes (to invoke cloture) in order to get past a possible Republican filibuster. The vote was 55 "Yes" votes and 43 "No" votes. Harry Reid fell short by 5 votes.

The Republicans had banded together to vote "No" so as so as to force the Democrats to take care of tax and budget issues before trying to pass extraneous bills. The Republicans were joined in voting "No" by 3 heroic Democrat senators, from Virginia, North Carolina and Colorado.
However, 5 of the Republicans who voted "No" on Dec. 8, 2010 have actually been supporters of this Police / Fire Collective Bargaining bill.

These 5 moderate Republican senators are: Lisa Murkowski –Alaska, Scott Brown- Massachusetts, Virginia Collins – Maine, Olympia Snow – Maine and Mike Johanns of Nebraska. And the sixth moderate Republican, (who did not vote on Dec. 8) is Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.
If the 6 moderate Republicans give their support to this bill in the next few days, Harry Reid will have the 60 votes he needs. President Obama is anxious to sign it into law.

Senate Majority Harry Reid may try to slip this bill through again at any time during this lame duck session, now that the big issue regarding prolonging the "Bush tax cuts" for another 2 years has been agreed upon.
Harry Reid's union boss supporters want this bill passed during this December 2010 lame duck session, before the more conservative congress is seated in January 2011.

It is vital that we contact Senator Murkowski and urge her to vote against this bill in spite of her past support of the bill. Also, she should be thanked for voting “No” on Dec. 8 and temporarily blocking the immediate advancement of the bill (S.3991). Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) predictably voted “Yes” to advance the bill.

Senator Lisa Murkowski's Washington D.C. phone is (202) 224-6665.
Senator Mark Begich's Washington D.C. phone is (202) 224-3004.

S.3991 is a brazen attack on Alaska’s sovereignty. Alaskan cities should have the right to run their police and fire departments as they wish without interference from the federal government. S.3991 would force Alaskan cities to knuckle under to expensive unionization with collective bargaining if the government police and firefighter employees voted by simple majority to go that way.

Many Alaskan cities such as Fairbanks and Anchorage already choose to allow collective bargaining for their city government workers. But some Alaskan cities have preferred to relate directly with their employees without having an adversarial union middleman in-between.

The 4 non-union cities in Alaska that would be affected most harshly and immediately by the passage of S.3991 are Palmer, Kenai, Homer and Kodiak. Each of these cities has a population greater than 5000, and S.3991 brings the hammer down on all cities throughout the country with a population of over 5000.

Collective bargaining for local government workers has always been within the jurisdiction of the states – not the national government.

In 1935 the U.S. Congress passed the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRA gave collective bargaining powers to workers in private industry. The NLRA mandates that a private factory owner must recognize and bargain in “good faith” with a union that has been authorized to act as the sole bargaining agent for the employees of that factory, or else that private factory owner will face the penalty for “unfair labor practices”. But the NLRA does not pertain to local government state and city workers. That issue has always been up to the citizen / taxpayers within the individual states to decide for themselves.


In Alaska, collective bargaining powers are bestowed to local government workers by way of  a state statute called the Public Employment Relations Act (also know as “PERA”). Some Alaskan cities such as North Pole and the City of Kodiak have opted out of PERA. Both of those cities have a non-union city police force.


The City of Fairbanks is under the jurisdiction of PERA. Even though Fairbanks already has a unionized police and fire department, the City of Fairbanks has recognized the huge intrusive threat posed by the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act. On Dec. 6, 2010, the City of Fairbanks sent an official letter to Senator Murkowski, Senator Begich and Representative Don Young strongly urging them to vote against this bill during the lame duck session.



What about the employees’ right to free association? Just because a city does not choose to recognize a union as the exclusive bargaining agent for its workers, does not mean that those workers are not free to join an employees’ association. They certainly are free to join as they wish.

   For example, the City of Kodiak has about 120 city employees and is non-union. The city has a set of Personnel Rules and Regulations with which it relates to its employees. Included there in chapter 17 is the declaration that city employees have the right to join employee associations of their choice without fear of discrimination or retaliation. But that does not mean that the city is obligated to have to sit down and bargain with such an association.
   Another example are the states of Virginia and North Carolina which do not engage in any collective bargaining with their local government employees. But those employees are certainly free to join organizations. Many police employees in Virginia and North Carolina are members of the Fraternal Order of Police. The F.O.P. acts as a union / collective bargaining agent for police employees in some other states, but not in Virginia and North Carolina.

Update on May 15, 2016: This bill (Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act) died a natural death at the end of the 111th Congress (at about the end of 2010). Thank goodness. So far I have not seen it resurface in all these years to the present time in 2016.


This web page is written and paid for by Randy Griffin, PO Box 73653, Fairbanks, Alaska, 99707