Governor Signs Bill Easing Collective Bargaining for Firefighters, Police

Mike Seals - May 5, 2021 11:36 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – The governor today signed a bill into law that will streamline the collective bargaining process for firefighters and police officers.

House Bill 2747, by Rep. Ross Ford, R-Broken Arrow, eliminates the Public Employees Relations Board and it assigned responsibilities. Instead, it requires a municipal employer to recognize an association selected by a majority of its firefighters or police officers as their exclusive bargaining agent.

Senate amendments clarify how and when a police or fire department may have an election to certify whom will represent them as the bargaining unit.

“These is a simple bill that will allow these public safety officials to designate who they wish to bargain for them when negotiating their wages and pensions with the municipalities for whom they work,” Ford said. “Right now, because of the sunset of the Public Employees Relations Board, there exists a gap that left court as the only recourse to certify these small departments. This corrects that.”

Ford explained the bill allows firefighters or police officers to at any time vote to recertify or bring in a new bargaining agent if they so desire.

Sen. John Haste, R-Broken Arrow, is the Senate author of the bill.

“I am very pleased, after working on this for two years, being able to craft legislation to fill the void of the sunsetting Public Relations Board,” Haste said.  “With the implementing of this bill, it will bring clarity and direction for this process.”

A bargaining agent recognized by a municipality prior to the effective date of the measure would continue to be recognized under HB 2747. A question of whether an association is the exclusive bargaining agent also would be resolved by an election, paid for by either the bargaining agent or the employees. Votes or ballots authorized by agreed-upon procedures would be accompanied by a voter’s driver license or state-authorized ID card. If parties are unable to agree on election procedures, either party may request the American Arbitration Association to conduct and certify the election. Finally, no election may be conducted in any bargaining unit in which a valid election has been held in the preceding 12 months.

The measure takes effect Nov. 1.

 

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