COLORADO SPRINGS – A standing-room-only crowd listened politely and intently as advocates for and against Issue 1 on the April 2 municipal election ballot made their pitch to garner votes in an hour-long forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Pikes Peak Region Monday night at the Penrose Library.
John Roy, spokesman for Firefighters for a Safer Colorado, first delivered a three-minute opening statement describing how passage of Issue 1, which would grant collective bargaining for the city’s firefighters, would ensure that firefighters are able to reliably receive contractually-guaranteed wages, benefits, and funding for equipment purchases and repairs for a specific number of years and budget cycles, regardless of turnover in city leadership or economic factors such as a recession.
“We have city leaders who turn over every four years, we get a new mayor every four years, a new City Council member every four years, but we have firefighters who are dedicating three decades of their life to this community,” Roy said during his opening statement.
Mayor John Suthers represented opposition to the measure, saying providing collective bargaining to the city’s firefighters would give them an unfair advantage over other city agencies in negotiating leverage for a “bigger slice of the pie” regarding the city budget. Passage, he says, would mean that in times of financial difficulty, money would have to be taken from other agencies to pay firefighters their guaranteed pay and benefits.
“Unionizing our fire department will ultimately lead to unionizing a broad range of city employees,” Suthers said. “It would be unfair to police, city linemen, and many others.”
CLICK HERE for our prior coverage of Issue 1, including the full text of the ballot question and links to campaign literature for each side.