“I applaud the Senate’s action on H.R. 980 that will grant first responders across the nation collective bargaining rights. This approach does not weaken our security, it bolsters it. It bolsters our security because it recognizes that the duties of first responders in times of crisis are distinct from the process of negotiating for sound working environments and practices in times of calm. When we give our front line men and women a voice and a seat at the table to discuss the health and safety of their jobs, we ensure that they can adequately protect all of us. Striking this balance will make for a better, more veteran force of first responders over the long term, and we’ll all benefit from that.
My only hope is that if we can provide these rights to our police, fire and emergency medical personnel, then we can do the same for other front line homeland security workers like those at our airports. Time and time again the catchphrase ‘national security’ has muddied workers’ protections and rights to no appreciable gain when, as we’ve seen here today, there can be a balance between workers rights and the security of our nation. Our first responders and the nation’s transportation security officers should not be treated like second class citizens. Their voices – all of their voices – deserve to be heard.”