Colorado Springs voters reject collective bargaining for firefighters

On Tuesday, voters in Colorado Springs, Colorado, rejected Issue 1, a citizen initiative designed to allow collective bargaining for uniformed city fire employees. According to unofficial election night results with 95 percent of precincts reporting, the measure was opposed by 69 percent of voters.
Approval of Issue 1 would have added an article to the city charter permitting firefighters to select an employee organization as their sole representative to act in negotiations with the city.
Under SB 25, known as the Firefighter Safety Act (2013), local governments in Colorado may allow collective bargaining with voter approval. However, following the rejection of Issue 1, the Colorado Springs City Charter will continue to prohibit employee organizations from negotiating with the city regarding firefighters’ compensation. Public employers in the city are still required under SB 25 to meet and confer with firefighters or their employee organizations upon request to discuss other policies, such as safety and equipment.
Issue 1 was put on the ballot after initiative proponents submitted 17,322 valid signatures to the city clerk in December 2018. The group Firefighters for a Safer Colorado Springs led the campaign in favor of a “yes” vote, raising over $670,000 by March 29, 2019. The Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 5, was the top donor to the “yes” campaign, funding 44 percent of the total contributions to date.
Two opposition campaigns, Citizens Against Public Employee Unions and Americans for Prosperity, raised a combined $392,000 to defeat Issue 1 as of the March 29 filing. The group Colorado Springs Forward was the top donor in opposition to the initiative, providing 45 percent of the monetary contributions leading up to the election.
With the defeat of Issue 1, Colorado Springs continues to diverge from other major cities in Colorado that have adopted collective bargaining for firefighters, including Denver, Fort Collins, Aurora, and Pueblo.
Voter turnout for the April 2 general election was 32 percent, according to city officials. In addition to deciding Issue 1, Colorado Springs residents cast votes for the offices of mayor and three of nine seats on the city council.
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