It's depressing, but not too surprising, to see unions for government public safety employees taking advantage of the times and the widespread good feelings toward public safety workers to serve their own interests.
Police and firefighter unions are pushing hard in Congress to pass the pass the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2003 (S606) that would mandate all local and state governments enter into collective bargaining arrangements with police, fire and emergency medical personnel regardless of state and local laws.
According to the National Association of Counties,
Police, firefighters and their supporters have argued that public safety officers are involved in more than just local police, fire and emergency response. They are involved in protecting much of the basic infrastructure that makes this nation work. This argument has been given greater legitimacy by the events of September 11.
Somehow they argue that this means mandatory collective bargaining is necessary, but the link is an absurd stretch. Even if there was a link, this would not be a federal issue and a federal mandate very inapropriate. No surprise that the National Association of Counties, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the National League of Cities all oppose the bill.
A federal mandate of collective bargaining would be a big win for the unions, probably a win for some of the police and firefighters, and big loss for the public they are supposed to serve. Public safety worker unions abuse the popularity of their members to push for all manner of bad policies like overmanning, ridiculous pensions, and absurd protection from accountability. Forcing that package down the throats of state and local governments would be a big mistake.