North Dakota AFL-CIO Legislature Watch Week ending 2-1-19


This was a good week for North Dakota Labor at the Capital. First is the firefighter and police collective bargaining bill, HB - 1463. Last session a similar bill came out of committee with a 12 to 2 vote against it. This year the vote was 6 to 6 with 2 absent. Though by no means is this a complete victory, it is a fantastic improvement.

Why such a jump? It jumped because Unions got to work!!

In addition to members and allies writing letters across the state, the members of the International Association of Fire Fighters and the new State president, Darren Schimke have been amazing. Not only did 25 of them show up to the committee hearing with 4 people giving great testimony, on five different occasions from 4 to 12 firefighters have come to the capital to talk to members of the committee and the legislature at large and they have been very convincing. Having them explain their issues and the lack of consistent communication between the departments and the cities has been a real eye opener to many legislators here. Several have turned our way and many more are much closer to the middle. 

They are fighting a huge uphill battle with the anti union bias at the Capital, but truly the IAFF members have been model union members in taking issues into their own hands and showing up at the capital to discuss them. This is how it’s done.

But it’s not over, Since the vote was a tie, the committee voted to wait until the two absent members returned and vote again. This will likely happen on Monday as your reading this. Here are the supporters and opposition in the committee.

The vote went as such:
Marvin Nelson - support - Rolla
Mary Adams - support - Grand Forks
Pam Anderson - support - Fargo
Vernon Laning - support - Bismarck
Glenn Bosch - support - Bismarck
Emily O'Brien - support - Grand Forks

Dan Ruby - opposed - Minot
Mike Lefor - opposed - Dickinson
Craig Johnson - opposed- Maxbass
David Richter - opposed - Williston
Austen Schauer - opposed- West Fargo
George Keiser - opposed – Bismarck

Absent 
Jim Kasper - Fargo
Scott Louser - Minot

The  opposition and absent committee members need to understand that they cannot "Back the Blue and red" without supporting collective bargaining. Period. 

For other things to watch:

HB – 1217 the bill that would have demanded that most government services be done by private industry, thankfully failed on a floor vote this week.

HB – 1456 the massive kitchen sink bill dealing with many issues at WSI including unfair fraud determinations and PTSD protections came out of committee nearly tied was sent to the floor, but for reasons not understood was sent back to committee again. Marvin Nelson, the bill’s sponsor is puzzled at this too. Stay tuned.

HB – 1509 The family leave bill would offer great service to families with sick loved ones. It would be a great help to North Dakota Working families. Unfortunately, it came out of committee 9 to 3 against it and will likely hit the house floor this week.

HB – 1521 and SB – 2148 are the competing ethics and transparency bills. Since 1521 is a highly rushed and watered-down version of the voter’s intent, and butchers much of what was in Measure 1. The AFL-CIO is standing by Senator Mathern’s bill SB – 2148, which would take the time to study the issue to make certain the right legislation is passed. Committees for both bills took testimony on Wednesday and will do so again this coming Wednesday starting at 2:00.

Keep on writing those letters in support of collective bargaining and get ready to take other action.

In Solidarity,
Waylon Hedegaard
President/Secretary Treasurer
North Dakota AFL-CIO
[email protected]
(701) 595-3334