(1)The general assembly hereby finds and declares that:
(a)The people of Colorado have a fundamental interest in the development of harmonious and cooperative relationships between public employers and firefighters, particularly related to safety issues;
(b)The state has an obligation to protect the public safety by assuring, at all times, the orderly and uninterrupted operation of fire protection agencies;
(c)In order to continually maintain public safety, firefighters must be denied the right to strike;
(d)The denial by some public employers of the right of firefighters to organize and bargain collectively or meet and confer leads to various forms of strife and unrest, which obstruct public safety, and when the right to strike is denied, collective bargaining with the possibility to meet and confer are the appropriate counterbalance to prevent the obstructions to public safety;
(e)Unresolved disputes between firefighters and their public employers harm the public, the governmental agencies, and the employees involved;
(f)Experience has proven that legal protection of the right of firefighters to organize safeguards public safety by removing certain recognized sources of strife and unrest and encouraging practices fundamental to the amicable resolution of disputes over compensation, hours, and terms and conditions of employment and by creating equality of bargaining power between public employers and the firefighters that they employ;
(g)The Colorado wildfires of 2012 demonstrate the potential for loss of life and property damage associated with natural disasters. Responding to natural disasters requires a coordinated response by, and the significant contribution of staffing and resources from, fire departments all around the state. The departments are required to work closely with one another during these times, which demonstrates the statewide nature of fire protection and natural disaster response. Most departments have automatic mutual aid agreements with adjacent departments that blur jurisdictional lines even further. The ability to coordinate and cooperate is critical to effective fire protection and disaster response in the state.
(h)It is the policy of this state to eliminate the causes of certain substantial obstructions to public safety and to mitigate and eliminate these obstructions when they occur by:
(I)Protecting the exercise by firefighters of full freedom of association, self-organization, and other mutual aid or protection without fear of intimidation or retaliation;
(II)Encouraging and promoting the practice and procedure of collective bargaining;
(III)Protecting the right of firefighters to designate representatives of their own choosing for the purpose of collective bargaining, and protecting their right to participate in the political process while off duty and not in uniform, like any other citizen of this state; and
(IV)If approved by a vote of the citizens of a jurisdiction, obligating public employers and employee organizations of firefighters to enter into collective bargaining with the willingness to resolve disputes relating to compensation, hours, and the terms and conditions of employment and to reduce to writing any agreements reached through negotiations; and
(i)Collective bargaining for firefighters is a matter of statewide concern that affects the public safety and general welfare, as the Colorado supreme court held in City of Aurora v. Aurora Firefighters’ Protective Association, 193 Colo. 437, 566 P.2d 1356 (1977). The citizens of Colorado have the right to expect a consistently high level of public safety throughout the state, which will allow the economy of Colorado to grow and prosper.
(2)It is also the policy of this state to obligate public employers to meet and confer with their firefighters, upon request, to discuss safety, equipment, and noncompensatory matters.
Section 29-5-202 — Legislative declaration,
https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/images/olls/crs2023-title-29.pdf (accessed Oct. 20, 2023).