RALEIGH — Nearly 32,000 North Carolina state and local public safety employees could begin negotiating contracts with unions if recently introduced federal legislation becomes law. S. 3194, The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2009 (S. 3194), sponsored and introduced April 12 by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., would override North Carolina law forcing the state, municipalities, and counties to recognize and bargain collectively with unions representing police, firefighters, emergency medical responders, and others.
The bill could become law quickly and without substantive debate. Reid introduced S. 3194 under a rule that allows it to bypass committee review and proceed to the floor in as little as 48 hours.
No action had occurred as of press time.
S. 3194 would override North Carolina General Statute 95-98, which for 51 years has prohibited public sector collective bargaining. S. 3194 would let public safety employees choose to be represented by a union and have their hours, wages, and terms and conditions of employment determined by collective bargaining. Supervisors and managers would be exempt.
The North Carolina League of Municipalities estimates 28,000 municipal and county law enforcement workers and paid firefighters would fall under the bill. The State Office of Personnel puts the number of public safety positions in state government at nearly 3,800, including members of Highway Patrol, employees of the State Bureau of Investigation, and others.
Not only would this bill cost North Carolina taxpayers a fortune, it is an unconstitutional over reach by the federal government into an area of law that should be left to the states. Keep an eye on this one.