Towns, big and small, are bending under the severe economic climate. They're having trouble paying their bills. Soon they may break altogether.

That will occur if a bill now before the Senate ever sees the light of day.

Last week, in a Washington Post editorial, it was revealed that Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, will resurrect the Police and Firefighters Monopoly Bargaining Bill (S. 3194) and present it to the Senate.

If the bill is successful, it could mean disaster for communities and public servants throughout the nation.

We agree with the Post's stand that, "Congress should let states handle their own labor relations."

Stan Greer, writing for Labor Watch, explains the bill as such:

"A federal mandate imposing "exclusive representation" (i.e. monopoly bargaining) for labor unions over state and local government employees has long been an objective of organized labor. With the elections forthcoming this fall, unions hope they will have the votes in Congress – and possibly an ally in the White House – to achieve at least part of that objective through passage of the "Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act."

"Hundreds of thousands of police, firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who are free under state law to negotiate on their own behalf with their employers will be stripped of that freedom if Congress passes.

"Contrary to the claims of union advocates, the bill has nothing to do with protecting the right of police, firefighters and EMTs to join a union. The right to join a union is already protected in all 50 states.

"Nor does this legislation uphold the right of union officials to bargain on behalf of their members. On the contrary, any state law or local ordinance currently authorizing public-safety union officials to bargain on behalf of their members, and only their members, will be swept aside if the bill becomes law.

"That's because the legislation empowers union officials to bargain on behalf of police and firefighters who refuse to join a union and want nothing to do with it, as well as those who voluntarily join a union.

Proponents of the bill believe it is a "basic right" of public-safety officers to act as a monopoly-bargaining agent. And by promoting monopoly bargaining, it will also in many cases strip public employees of the freedom to refuse to pay dues or fees to the union.

"There are other serious concerns about this legislation. Historically, states that enact monopoly-bargaining laws experience dramatic increases in public-sector strikes – both legal and illegal – and work stoppages that are especially troubling when public safety is at stake.

"Americans don't support the union position. A December 2006 nationwide opinion survey commissioned by the National Institute for Labor Relations Research and conducted by veteran pollster Del Ali and his firm Research 2000 found that 81 percent of Americans who regularly vote in statewide elections believe employees in unionized businesses should retain the right to bargain for themselves."

This bill has disaster written all over it. And we encourage all voters to send your senators a message demanding they oppose the Police and Firefighters Monopoly Bargaining Bill or any attempt to add this big labor power grab to other legislation.

Rush Limbaugh describes the action as a, "brazen union boss power grab."

We see it that way also.

Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com [1]