Brooklyn Park Firefighters Go Union

2-19-2014

In the first union election ever for part-time firefighters in Minnesota, 46 Brooklyn Park firefighters joined AFSCME. They won a mail ballot run by the state Bureau of Mediation Services.

The election is the latest victory in a two-year battle by the Brooklyn Park firefighters to become a union. They first sought representation in 2012, but city officials fought them every step of the way.

Their case led to a BMS ruling that says firefighters who work a certain number of hours per year qualify as public employees under state law. That gives union rights to firefighters in many Twin Cities suburbs and smaller communities around the state.

The Brooklyn Park firefighters say they risk their lives on the job, but earn less than $15 an hour and have no health insurance. Unlike other part-time city workers, they don’t have paid sick time or paid vacation, either.

IAFF, AFSCME work hand in hand
The Brooklyn Park crews are the second group of part-time firefighters to join AFSCME this year. In January, 22 firefighters in Roseville became the first unionized part-time firefighters in the state. Roseville voluntarily granted representation after a vast majority of the eligible firefighters signed cards seeking collective bargaining through AFSCME.

Many full-time firefighters in the state are members of the International Association of Fire Fighters. However, the IAFF’s constitution does not allow that union to represent part-time firefighters. AFSCME and IAFF leaders in Minnesota are cooperating on organizing efforts to bring more firefighters – full time and part time – into the union family.