Collective bargaining bill for firefighters passes first vote

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A labor bill to guarantee collective bargaining rights to professional firefighters passed by a 3-2 vote in a senate committee today.

The bill will now go to a vote by the full senate.

Kevin Kuhlman, president of the local 2808 Firefighters’ Union, said the bill would give allow firefighters to make important decisions regarding wages, scheduling, equipment and retirement plans.

“This gives us a long needed and wanted voice in some of the decision that occur in our daily lives with work,” Kuhlman said.

If passed, the bill would override a vote Grand Junction residents made in 2000 turning down collective bargaining rights for firefighters.

In a letter to Senator Steve King, Representatives Jared Wright and Ray Scott, and Colorado Municipal League, Grand Junction Mayor Bill Pitts called the bill an unfunded mandate which would have the potential to “deteriorate our public’s trust in the fire department and disrespect the voice of our citizens.”

Mayor Pitts said the City’s relationship with firefighters works as it stands, without collective bargaining.

“They’re attempting to tell us what to do and how to negotiate our employee relations and we don’t need their interference,” Pitts said.

It’s uncertain whether Governor Hickenlooper would approve the bill. Four years ago, Democratic Governor Bill Ritter vetoed a similar bill.



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