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North Dakota House rejects collective bargaining for police, firefighters

BISMARCK — Members of the North Dakota House voted down a bill to allow collective bargaining for police and professional firefighters with city administrations Friday, Feb. 8.

The chamber voted 64-23 against House Bill 1463, introduced by Rep. Mary Schneider, D-Fargo.

The House Industry, Business and Labor Committee gave the bill an 8-6 do-not-pass recommendation. Bill carrier Rep. Mike Lefor, R-Dickinson, said the committee had several reasons for its recommendation, including collective bargaining for "a select few," time limits on cities' budgeting processes and concerns over "an impasse" in negotiations.

Rep. Pamela Anderson, D-Fargo, urged support for the bill out of respect for emergency responders and their dangerous duties.

Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, offered his observation that police and firefighters' abilities to talk with their cities' administration may be a problem with one or two departments in the state. Rep. Ron Guggisberg, D-Fargo — also a fire captain — disputed Kasper's remarks.

"I think the people I run into on the street in Fargo, the police officers, they don't think things are fine, and they do think that things could be better and they do want collective bargaining," Guggisberg said.