Nationalizing the Police and Fire Forces

The Investor’s Business Daily takes on Sen. Harry Reid and his effort for nationalize union rules governing firemen, police and first responders:

In an effort to please union backers ahead of the 2010 midterm elections, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is quietly trying to nationalize rules governing every police, fire and first responder union in the nation.

Through the benignly named Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (H.R.413), Reid wants all first responders represented by collective bargaining rules emanating from Washington D.C. Naturally this legislation is being pushed as a matter of “national security.”

Democrats’ union supporters will greatly benefit from nationalized rules for police and fire unions. This plan would replace with federal rules state laws on collective bargaining between state and local governments and their first responder unions and would greatly empower unions to dictate pay scales and benefits on a national level.

While a boon to unions, this law would seriously damage our federalist system by taking away a large measure of local control over police and firefighters unions and lead to higher costs to local governments and taxpayers, costs that neither will be able to affect at the ballot box.

Imagine the loss of control that local governments will face when first responder unions no longer have to deal with local rules and laws but can force a federal one-size-fits-all style rule on all local governments.Local governments will no longer be able to determine pay scales and benefits and will lose control of their own ability to budget in that respect. H.R.413 will also completely remove the ability of voters to have any say in local matters as a top down control from Washington will rule the day where it concerns local police, fire and other first responders’ benefits bargaining.

Additionally when local governments want to fire a policeman or fireman they now do so through local laws and home-based unions. If H.R.413 passes, no local government will be able to fire a cop or fireman without appealing to the federal government and courts, authorities far, far removed from the local area and completely unfamiliar with the needs and interests of that local area.

According to the Public Service Research Council, a union watchdog group based in Vienna, Va., the legislation could even be unconstitutional. In Alden v. Maine on June 23, 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court raised serious doubts as to whether Congress had the authority to impose federal labor law on state, and therefore local, government.

Unfortunately there is bipartisan support for this government takeover of first responder collective bargaining. Many think what they are doing is leveling the playing field for all first responders and setting rules that can govern them equally.