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Senators Hassan, Hickenlooper Introduce Legislation Guaranteeing Collective Bargaining for Fire Fighters and EMS Personnel

Legislation Supported by the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire and the International Association of Fire Fighters

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) introduced legislation to guarantee collective bargaining rights for fire fighters and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel. The Fire Fighters and EMS Employer-Employee Cooperation Act recognizes the right of emergency services providers to join a union as well as bargain for fair working conditions, hours, and wages.


Many states, including New Hampshire, already have local collective bargaining protections for emergency personnel, but federal law does not protect these essential workers. In 16 states, public safety employees cannot collectively bargain for safe working conditions. In five states, they are unable to unionize altogether.


"Supporting our fire fighters and EMS personnel— our frontline heroes— must include making sure that we protect their collective bargaining rights in every part of the country. Just as they have our backs during our hardest times, we need to have theirs,” said Senator Hassan.


“We applaud Senator Hassan for her leadership in supporting the rights of fire fighters to bargain collectively in the workplace. We work hard to keep Granite Staters safe and are proud to have a Senator who works hard for us,” said Brian Ryll, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire.


The Fire Fighters and EMS Employer-Employee Cooperation Act would give fire fighters and EMS personnel basic collective bargaining rights in states that currently do not provide them. The legislation gives states wide flexibility to write and administer their own laws, consistent with the following minimum standards:

  • The right to form and join a labor organization and to have that organization be recognized through the formation and agreement of a contract.
  • The right to bargain over working conditions, hours, and wages.
  • The ability to resolve disputes through an impasse resolution mechanism, and if an agreement is reached, the right to enforce it in court or through an administrative agency.


The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and Professional Fire Fighters of New Hampshire support the bill. Text is available HERE.


Earlier this year, Senator Hassan led efforts to include $300 million in the American Rescue Plan for FEMA grant programs that provide resources to fire fighters across the country to help with hiring, retention, and critical supplies. Senator Hassan is a cosponsor of the bipartisan Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act which would help direct federal agencies to develop best practices, training, and educational programs to reduce, limit, and prevent exposure to PFAS to help protect the health and safety of fire fighters. Senator Hassan is also a cosponsor of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which will strengthen federal laws that protect workers’ right to join a union and bargain for higher wages and better benefits.