December 21, 2007 Volume 108 Number 24

Oregon Fire Fighters Council endorses Gordon Smith

The Executive Board of the Oregon State Fire Fighters Council voted to endorse Oregon U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith for re-election.

On its Web site, the council said it endorsed Smith because of his sponsorship of a national collective bargaining bill, and for his support of the SAFER Act, another priority bill of the union.

The collective bargaining bill was filibustered Dec. 14 by a small group of hard-line anti-labor Republican senators. It won’t be revisited until next year.

SAFER grants are used to help fire departments hire more firefighters. On July 26, the U.S. Senate approved $145 million for SAFER grants. On June 15, the U.S. House approved $235 million, more than double the $115 million allocated for 2007. The House and Senate are now working to resolve funding differences between the two bills. “We will continue to support those that support us, regardless of their party affiliation,” the Fire Fighters Council said.

The Fire Fighters Council called Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Merkley “a great friend and supporter of working families.” The Council credited Merkley, who has been endorsed by the Oregon AFL-CIO and numerous unions, for helping pass a bill in the 2007 Legislature that allows firefighters and police to bargain safety-related issues in contracts. That right was stripped from them in 1995.