On Wednesday, January 9, 2013, Sen. Lois Tochtrop introduced SB 13-025 – Concerning Collective Bargaining by Firefighters. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.
The bill grants firefighters the right to:
- Organize, form, join, or assist an employee organization or refrain from doing so;
- Negotiate collectively or express a grievance through representatives of their choice;
- Engage in other lawful concerted activity for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection; and
- Be represented by their exclusive representative without discrimination.
An employee organization recognized or elected for collective bargaining becomes the exclusive representative of all firefighters for collective bargaining. The bill prohibits a fire department from bargaining on matters covered by the act with any other employee or group. The bill grants the exclusive representative the right to be present and express its views at the adjustment of a complaint made by a member of the bargaining unit without the intervention of the exclusive representative. An exclusive representative may have dues and other moneys deducted from the pay of firefighters who authorize the deduction.
A fire department and an exclusive representative have to bargain collectively in good faith. Any agreements negotiated between an exclusive representative and a fire department, along with any terms approved by the voters of the political subdivision of the fire department, constitute the collective bargaining agreement between the parties. The bill requires the term of a collective bargaining agreement to be for between one and three years unless the parties agree to negotiate and reach a voluntary agreement on all terms of a new contract. The parties have to begin collective bargaining within a specified time after the notice. An impasse is deemed to exist if the parties fail to reach a collective bargaining agreement within a specified time after the beginning of collective bargaining. A collective bargaining agreement may require all members of the bargaining unit, as a condition of employment, to pay the exclusive representative’s fees and expenses in negotiating and enforcing the agreement.
If an impasse exists, the bill requires the parties to allow an arbitration organization to appoint an advisory fact finder to hold a hearing on the unresolved issues and make recommendations on which party’s final offer on each issue should be accepted. The bill specifies the factors that the advisory fact finder must consider. The parties have a specified time to consider the advisory fact-finder’s recommendations and conduct further negotiations. If either party rejects the recommendations, the final offers of the parties on the unresolved issues will be submitted to the voters of the political subdivision of the public employer at a special election.
The bill prohibits firefighters from striking.
Existing bargaining units, exclusive representatives, and bargaining relationships as of the effective date of the bill remain in effect unless modified by agreement or election in accordance with the bill.
Firefighters may conduct secret-ballot elections to certify or decertify an employee organization as the exclusive representative of a bargaining unit.
The bill grants a firefighter or an employee organization the right to sue to enforce the provisions of the bill.
On Jan. 23, the Business, Labor, & Technology Committee amended and approved the bill and moved it to the Senate for consideration on 2nd Reading.
Since this summary, the bill was laid over on Second Reading in the Senate until February 4, 2013.