Commissioners to assess firefighters union today
Athens-Clarke County Firefighters may get one step closer to unionizing at tonight’s Mayor and Commission meeting.
After several postponed votes, commissioners will debate the Firefighter’s Mediation Act, which would allow county firefighters to collectively bargain for wages and other terms of employment with ACC officials. While most county employees are not allowed to unionize, Title 25 of Georgia law creates an exception for firefighters.
Commissioners last postponed the vote at their April meeting after some commissioners asked for a formal report on the department’s issues. District 5’s Dexter Fisher led a motion to postpone the vote until June 6 following a non-voting meeting on May 9.
The union’s supporters say the department’s equipment is outdated and retention rates are suffering from insufficient pay. Nate Bailey, President of the Professional Firefighters of Georgia and the Atlanta Professional Firefighters, said ACC can fix these departmental issues by establishing a dialogue.
Several firefighters voiced their desire to use the act to work as partners with the county in maintaining public safety. Emily Thompson, President of the ACC Professional Firefighters, said the act acknowledges firefighters for sacrificing their personal safety for their community.
At their April meeting, District 10’s Mike Hamby joined firefighters in supporting the act and asked for firefighters to be officially invited to speak at tonight’s meeting.
Along with the firefighters union, commissioners plan to review the county’s budget for fiscal year 2024.