Ore.: Bill Allows Police, Fire to Bargain on Safety

In a tight vote, the Oregon Senate passed a bill that would allow firefighters, police officers and corrections officers to address safety and staffing concerns during contract negotiations.

State Sens. Kate Brown and Floyd Prozanski – both Democrats – co-sponsored Senate Bill 400, which passed the Senate by a margin of 16-13. The bill now moves to the Oregon House of Representatives.

“We ought to ensure that the men and women who provide for our safety have the ability to discuss their own,” Prozanski said. “This bill will allow public safety employees to discuss safety issues before someone's life is lost rather than after.”

The senators assert that restoring the ability of first responders to involve safety and staffing issues in the collective bargaining process – a right that was revoked by a Republican-led state congress in 1995 – “is important because these same employees are prohibited by Oregon law from striking.”

“Nobody has earned the right to talk about safety issues more than the Oregonians who put their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe,” Brown said. “This legislation allows our firefighters and police to discuss their own safety at the bargaining table.”

Supporters of the measure note that the bill “does not guarantee any outcomes or increased staffing levels,” and it “applies only to employees that are prohibited by law from striking.”

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