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Election Watch: Colorado Springs Issue 1 – CSFD Collective Bargaining

Posted: 8:18 PM, Mar 06, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-07 00:43:36-05

COLORADO SPRINGS – Ballots for the April 2 municipal election will be mailed out beginning Friday.  There is only one ballot question for voters to decide on: Issue 1 – Collective Bargaining for Fire Department Initiative.

Issue 1 would allow the Colorado Springs Fire Department to receive the benefits of collective bargaining.  Currently, a number of firefighters are voluntary members of the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local Union No. 5.  Issue 1 would extend union benefits to all uniformed fire employees.

The “Yes on 1” campaign is represented by Firefighters for a Safer Colorado Springs, who say collective bargaining through a designated bargaining representative would give them a better seat at the table in negotiating for compensation, tools and equipment, work conditions, and other benefits.

“Firefighters are the experts in public safety and we want to advocate for the safety of the community, and this would give us the means to do so,” said John Roy, spokesman for Firefighters for a Safer Colorado Springs.  “This is about ensuring that we have something in writing to ensure that reasonable decisions today are upheld in the future, regardless of who’s in office.  We feel like this is vitally important for a long-term vision in public safety for this community.”

The “No on 1” campaign is led by Mayor John Suthers, who says citizens elect a mayor and City Council to decide appropriate compensation for various city departments within budget constraints, and allowing an un-elected representative to negotiate disproportionately beneficial compensation for one city department would lead to other departments following suit, setting up a never-ending fight for funding.

“Unionizing the fire department will eventually lead to unionizing city employees,” Suthers said.  “That will be very costly.  How do you, in fairness, not give unionization to the police if you give it to the fire department? How do you not give it to city utility linemen? How do you not give it to city foresters?”

The full text of the ballot question is below:

Shall the Charter of the City of Colorado Springs be amended by the addition of a new Article XVI thereto granting collective bargaining rights to all uniformed City fire employees except for the Fire Chief and his direct reports, and specifically: providing that such employees shall have the right to select and remove an employee organization to serve as the sole and exclusive bargaining representative, to bargain on behalf of such employees for a collective bargaining agreement with the City as employer, concerning items related to safety, wages, salaries, monetary payments, employer-paid health insurance, employer-paid accident, life and disability insurance, employer-paid pension programs including the amount of pension and contributions, employer-offered deferred compensation, health insurance for retired fire employees, paid time off, uniform and equipment allowances, employer-paid expense reimbursement, hours of work, and all other terms and conditions of employment of such employees; providing for the term of collective bargaining agreements of not less than one (I) year nor longer than three (3) years; providing for impasse between the City and the exclusive bargaining agent regarding any issues to be presented to a fact-finder, with the fact-finder to be selected by agreement between the exclusive bargaining representative and the City; providing the factors that the fact-finder shall consider in his or her decision; providing that if either the City or the collective bargaining representative does not accept the decision of the fact-finder on any issue, it shall be presented to the voters only at a special municipal election, with each issue to be a separate question; and providing that any adopted appropriations ordinance shall be amended as necessary to comply with the recommendations from the fact-finder or the special election results?

CLICK HERE for the “Yes on 1” web page.

CLICK HERE for a “No on 1” talking points pamphlet.