North Dakota Firefighters and Police Officers are asking for a seat at the table when it comes to decisions that affect their jobs. As our Malique Rankin explains, they’re asking for lawmakers help in making their jobs safer.
House Bill 1463 would allow full-time firefighters and Police officers to collectively bargain with their respective cities about changes that affect their jobs.
I spoke with the President of the Professional Firefighters of ND, who says this bill would help them increase safety and standardize staffing.
Darren Schimke; President of Professional Firefighters of ND: “Staffing issues on the fire engines. Some cities in our state operate fire engines with different levels of staffing than others. That’s really important to us, to have that on an even playing field would really be nice as well.”
Collective bargaining would allow officers and firemen to negotiate their salaries and benefits.
They say what’s even more important, it’d help them keep trained employees.
Darren Schimke; Professional Firefighters of ND: “Recruitment and retention seems to be an issue with a lot of departments in the state of ND. When I talk to my brother and sister firefighters from other states, that have collective bargaining, they don’t seem to have issues with recruitment or retention.”
A dozen firefighters were at the capitol hoping to explain to lawmakers their true intent with this bill.
Luke Teagle; Bismarck Firefighter Local 2468 Member: “We’re just wanting to be able to have a seat at the table when decisions need to be made.”
Local firefighters are hoping, by educating lawmakers, a few votes may be swayed.
The legislation clearly states this would not allow firefighters or officers to strike. It’s also illegal on a federal level, which supersedes state law anyway. Earlier this week, the committee hearing this bill had a split vote. Next week, Lawmakers will vote again.