• Head of Charlotte firefighters association pushes Congress on need for union rights

    By: Adam Gaub

    Updated:

    WASHINGTON - The head of Charlotte’s local firefighters association was on Capitol Hill Wednesday, testifying as to the need for basic bargaining rights for public employees.

    Tom Brewer, president of Charlotte Firefighters Association Local 660, asked lawmakers to support the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act.

    Rep. Daniel Kildee, D-Mich., introduced the bill in the House of Representatives in February. The basic ideals behind the bill, Brewer said, would create a basic set of collective bargaining rights and allow public workers to organize and negotiate directly with employers.

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    Brewer told Congress that understaffing is just one issue that would be addressed by the passage of the bill.

    “All departments are understaffed, and when we’re understaffed, it puts not only the firefighters at risk, it puts the community at risk,” Brewer said.

    A similar bill was first introduced in Congress in 2007, but failed to get a veto-proof supermajority needed to secure its passage.

    The current bill has 122 co-sponsors, including several Republicans. Two North Carolina representatives – David Price and Alma Adams – have signed on as co-sponsors.

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