Firefighters – but not police – deserve the same rights as other employees

MADISON – Firefighters – but not police officers – should have the same disciplinary options as other public employees, the Legislature’s budget committee decided in a hearing on May 30. In his budget bill, Governor Jim Doyle had recommended that unionized police officers and fire fighters outside Milwaukee get the option of taking disciplinary matters to arbitration. The Joint Finance Committee rejected that proposal and modified the governor’s plan to apply only to fire fighters.

A GOP motion to remove the entire provision from the budget failed 7-9.

“Police officers carry guns, so they deserve more scrutiny of their on-duty actions,” said Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan of Madison. “The worst an on-duty firefighter can do is hose you down,” Pocan added. Rep. Pocan’s motion to strip police officers from the Governor’s proposal, which was seconded by Republican Rep. Robin Vos of Racine, was approved by the committee by a vote of 12-4.

The WPPA will continue to fight for the governor’s proposal when the Finance Committee’s budget goes to the full Legislature over the next two months. So far, Republicans who control the Assembly have said that they will not agree to including police officers in the budget bill.

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