I completely and wholeheartedly agree with collective bargaining for our Police and Fire employees – these people have made their workplace ‘harms way’ to make our homes and our city safe. We cannot deny them the basic right to have a voice in their compensation. The following is reproduced from the website http://www.longmontpolice.com/
Support Public Safety
Ballot Issue 2-A
Longmont Professional Firefighters Association
Longmont Fraternal Order of Police
Fair to Public Safety Employees!
Fair to Administration!
Fair to the Citizens!
A Positive Choice for Longmont!
Vote YES on November 4th!
Since 2003 the firefighters and police officers serving Longmont, through their representative organizations, have been fighting to gain a formal system that will give them a level playing field and an equal voice in their working conditions. In 2004 our two organizations gained enough petition signatures to have that right placed on a ballot issue to amend the City Charter. We did so then because the City Administration would not entertain any discussion or proposal on this subject, and that was our only option to the ballot. We conducted a very professional and honest campaign. However at the end of the day we narrowly lost that election.
We are again pursuing our goal of gaining these rights in this year’s election. The firefighters and police officers are simply asking for the same right all citizens of this country enjoy. That is the right to have our professional organizations formally recognized by our employer, and to be able to sit across from our employer in an atmosphere of mutual respect and enter into cooperative agreements on our working conditions. Unlike 2004, this time we worked together with City Staff, City Council, and both chiefs, to bring a fair measure to the community that is a product developed by all involved parties affected by its passage. This time your elected representatives were satisfied with this effort, and referred the matter to the ballot.
Public safety officers in large numbers, both in Colorado and across this country, have gained or seek to gain this right. This system of fairness is in place in numerous jurisdictions across the country, including ten police departments and thirteen fire departments in Colorado. For those entities it is a normal and accepted way of doing business. History has demonstrated that the system works quite well, and that both sides benefit from it. However, this right can only be obtained by a vote of the citizens amending the City Charter.
If a City expects to reduce the burden on its taxpayers by asking its firefighters and law enforcement officers for greater efficiency and effectiveness, then it must involve them in the discussions that affect their working conditions. In doing so, it helps build a relationship of trust and partnership between public safety employees, management, and the citizens we serve.
As dedicated emergency workers we put our lives and well-being on the line for the citizens of the community daily without reservation. That is our job and we accept it proudly. As firefighters and police officers we constantly fight for better working conditions in our professions. Not just better, but safer working conditions as well as providing a high level of service to the community. We provide essential services needed by the community. As such we feel it is essential that we have a voice, and the right to weigh in on decisions concerning our safety as well as the safety of the citizens we serve. That is why this amendment is needed, and why we believe the citizens of Longmont will support it.
On July 29th four of seven members of the Longmont City Council voiced agreement and support and voted to refer a Charter Amendment to the November Ballot that will grant us the rights we have fought so hard and so long to gain. This amendment to the City Charter is not solely a product of our two employee groups. The City of Longmont hired an expert on this subject to advise and work with City Staff, and to represent the interests of the citizens in this matter. His name is Martin Semple. He is a highly recommended and very experienced labor attorney, whose entire career has been devoted to assisting cities on matters such as this. Much of this amendment in front of the voters as “Issue 2-A” is the end result of Mr. Semple’s analysis and expert advice. Experience and advice that the taxpayers paid for and will benefit from.
After City Council’s initial action your firefighters and police officers worked side by side with the city staff (including both chiefs) for two weeks and worked on problem areas that City Administration had with our original proposal. City management under Mr. Semple’s guidance negotiated with the firefighter and police employee representatives to modify the language of the original amendment. Through negotiations with management we re-wrote much of the original language and reached common ground on areas of concern. The end result was an amendment that both sides can work under. The measure in front of the voters is the by-product of that effort, and is a document that both sides believe is fair to the community.
On August 26th City Council agreed, and by a 6 to 1 vote adopted the compromise amendment language negotiated by City Staff and our organizations. Only one council person, Gabe Santos, disagreed with the new language negotiated by the City and voted not to accept those recommended changes. That same evening the amended measure was referred to this November’s ballot by a subsequent 4 to 3 Council vote. This is a vastly different proposal from the 2004 ballot issue. The amendment that was voted to the ballot by Council on August 26th is one that both the City Staff and these two employee organizations feel best matches the interest of the community. This amendment is a product of management working together with the employees to develop language that will best serve the needs of the community and its public safety needs. This proposal in front of the voters:
- Will give the right to firefighters and police officers to bargain collectively and enter into agreements on working conditions.
- Will not take effect until 2010 giving both sides time to work out the details and prepare for their new relationship.
- Will require both sides to bargain in good faith and mandates that the welfare and financial situation of the city govern any impasse on terms.
- Will prohibit any strikes, slowdowns or work stoppages over issues of impasse.
- Will not require any employee to join the designated firefighter or police employee organization that represents them.
- Will protect traditional management rights, and retains management’s flexibility in directing the workforce.
- Will not raise taxes and is based totally on the City’s budget allocation for wages and benefits for any given year of an agreement.
- Will allow the citizens of Longmont, and not a 3rd party arbitrator to ultimately decide any issues of impasse in negotiations should any occur.
This amendment provides an equal playing field and legitimate representative voice on many areas of working conditions. It provides us official recognition and a voice through a public safety organization of the employees’ choosing. Contrary to the spin that has been circulated by the uninformed, or those who would seek to mislead and put forth misinformation, your firefighters and police have been represented by their employee organizations for over 25 years. The problem is the City will not officially recognize that professional representation without this amendment. We have no formal voice without this amendment.
As public safety employees it is our very nature to protect our citizens and serve our community faithfully. We are on the front line daily in that service. When police officers put on the badge and the gun, or firefighters their bunker gear and answer the alarm, there is no guarantee we will go home at the end of our watch. That is the nature of our job, and we accept that proudly. But that is also why we believe that we should have a formal voice on decisions that affect our working conditions. That is why we have brought this amendment to the citizens of Longmont.
The denial of that voice has been the source of many serious problems over the years. It is important that firefighters and police officers be heard. We are the ones who daily are directly involved in service delivery and the safety of this community. We are the first responders. We have the daily working experience and knowledge in what community security entails. Our jobs involve the public safety and citizen welfare on a daily basis, which the employees’ safety and lives are constantly exposed to danger, we believe it is paramount that a system of representation be in place to give us a voice. For us and for public safety employees in many parts of this state and country, that system is collective bargaining. Obtaining such a system has been the foremost goal of both firefighters and police officers in Longmont for over 4 years.
It is our honor to serve Longmont. We also take great pride in the city we protect and the privilege we have been given to do so. That is why we work in our chosen professions. We realize our issue on this year’s ballot is a controversial matter for some people. Many have not taken the time to read the proposed amendment and have developed inaccurate and pre-conceived notions about this matter. Unfortunately that has been, and will always be, the case whenever this issue is raised anywhere.
There is a small group of powerful people that have influenced Longmont politics for years that is raising money to see this amendment defeated. You will soon be seeing their advertising distorting fact, and using contrived scare tactics in the community to promote their position. It fits their political agenda and purpose. This is the same group that fought so hard in 2004 against your firefighters & police officers. They are at it again. They have power and influence. But as much as we would like to avoid it; that’s politics. However, it has been our experience that Longmont is compromised of people that can put aside politics and one-sided spin, and approach an issue like this with a fair perspective.
Want to help your City’s Firefighters and Police Officers?
Donations to this campaign are greatly appreciated.
Please make checks payable to “Public Safety Employees in Support of 2A”.
Contributions are not tax deductible. Please mail contributions to:
Public Safety Employees in Support of 2-A
Matt Cage, Treasurer
2211 Meadow Vale Rd.
Longmont, CO 80504
Do You Have Questions? Submit them to: 2AQuestions@Live.com