In Phoenix, unions fleecing the taxpayers

posted at 10:05 am on September 23, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

In what may serve as a fitting followup to our story about Chicago union bosses bilking the public, Mark Flatten of the Goldwater Institute has concluded an eye opening piece of investigative journalism in Phoenix. And in this case, fleecing may be too mild of a word. Here we find yet another case of union contracts reaching into the organizational structure of public employees and finding… cash! It comes under the benign sounding description of “release time.”

Phoenix taxpayers spend millions of dollars to pay full salary and benefits for city employees to work exclusively for labor unions, a Goldwater Institute investigation found.

Collective bargaining agreements with seven labor organizations require the city to pay union officers and provide members with thousands of additional hours to conduct union business instead of doing their government jobs.

The total cost to Phoenix taxpayers is about $3.7 million per year, based on payroll records supplied by the city. In all, more than 73,000 hours of annual release time for city workers to conduct union business at taxpayers’ expense are permitted in the agreements.

The top officials in all of the unions have regular jobs with the city. But buried in the labor agreements are a series of provisions for those employees to be released from their regular duties to perform union work.

So how much “release time” are we talking? As Flatten discovered, top level union bosses are authorized 2,080 hours per year. For those who left their calculators at home today, that works out to 52 weeks at 40 hours per week. In other words, they are being paid a full time salary out of the public coffers without ever having to put in a single day of work for the city.

Going back quite a few years, I can recall an arrangement between a private employer and the IBEW where one employee (the shop steward) would be allotted an hour or two per week to make calls, drive over to the union office, get forms filled out, etc. with the rest of his time being spent on his normal job as an electrician. It was a small detail in the union agreement and nobody got terribly upset about it.

But the situation in Phoenix (and God only knows how many more places around the nation) is an example of something ordinary being taken to its ridiculous extreme. The unions take in plenty of money. If they weren’t flushing so much of it into political campaigns, they might be able to pay the salaries of their bosses rather than having cash strapped municipalities handing out money for nothing to fund the union’s operations.

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Power to the people, and if you don’t like that idea you will be beaten.

Bishop on September 23, 2011 at 10:08 AM

In Phoenix, unions fleecing the taxpayers

FIFY

faraway on September 23, 2011 at 10:11 AM

Fck unions.

blatantblue on September 23, 2011 at 10:13 AM

Same situation in the Federal gov., it’s BS.

tim c on September 23, 2011 at 10:14 AM

But the Social Contract we signed says that unions are entitled to whatever unions tell us they’re entitled to.

Do you really want to break that contract?

/Krugman

mankai on September 23, 2011 at 10:17 AM

Is any of this a surprise? Criinal yes, surprise no.

dirtseller on September 23, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Is any of this a surprise? Criinal Criminal yes, surprise no.

dirtseller on September 23, 2011 at 10:18 AM

It sounds like we need to tax the rich more.

/dem

John Deaux on September 23, 2011 at 10:20 AM

The unions take in plenty of money. If they weren’t flushing so much of it into political campaigns, they might be able to pay the salaries of their bosses rather than having cash strapped municipalities handing out money for nothing to fund the union’s operations.

Exactly! Who the hell is signing off on this crap??? Tax payers demand answers!!!

capejasmine on September 23, 2011 at 10:20 AM

I love the title.
Unions fleecing ______________.
I keep reading the talking heads on the far left promising revolt. The revolt is coming but it is because the people are figuring out that hope and change and the far left is all about enriching just a very selct few.

ORconservative on September 23, 2011 at 10:22 AM

Social Contract B!tches!

Youngs98 on September 23, 2011 at 10:23 AM

If you give the unions an inch in a contract, they eventually stretch it to several miles. I worked for a public utility company that was covered by the IBEW and we had to pay stewards for doing union work from going to the hall, phone calls and representing workers in meetings. It was part of doing business as they were employees and any time doing union work counted toward their retirement.

Kissmygrits on September 23, 2011 at 10:24 AM

Money for nothing, and Helen Thomas for free.

bayview on September 23, 2011 at 10:26 AM

The total cost to Phoenix taxpayers is about $3.7 million per year, based on payroll records supplied by the city. In all, more than 73,000 hours of annual release time for city workers to conduct union business at taxpayers’ expense are permitted in the agreements.

The question is — Why?!

But sadly the answer is just as obvious — Because Democrats run all the major cities in America, and get elected with the union/mob money and organization that they are giving your tax money to.

Jaibones on September 23, 2011 at 10:26 AM

The more we expose these lazy,greedy, aggressive pricks, the more violent they’ll become.

Truly the leeches of society.

blatantblue on September 23, 2011 at 10:27 AM

Cripe

This did not make the front page of the Arizona republic

cmsinaz on September 23, 2011 at 10:28 AM

How does this stuff happen and how do we make it stop?

Cindy Munford on September 23, 2011 at 10:34 AM

/Arizona Republic J-School retard mode on

How dare the Goldwater Institute be allowed to even state their positions. It was bad enough they took a position against hundreds of millions of city money going to a hockey team but this just takes the cake. Doesn’t the Goldwater Institute know that if it wasn’t for government unions factories wouldn’t exist? Or something?

/Arizona Republic J-School retard mode off

MNHawk on September 23, 2011 at 10:36 AM

Cripe
This did not make the front page of the Arizona republic
cmsinaz on September 23, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Most newspapers are unionized. If a newspaper were to run this story the newspaper would face a wildcat strike.

The Rock on September 23, 2011 at 10:38 AM

Politicians approve such labor contracts because it benefits…..politicians.

GarandFan on September 23, 2011 at 10:40 AM

Cripe

This did not make the front page of the Arizona republic

cmsinaz

Not even slightly surprising. That is why I canceled my subscription to them over a decade ago. Well, that and the leftist loon cartoonist Benson.

Hard Right on September 23, 2011 at 10:42 AM

the enemy within. the only way to break the cycle is stop electing demonrats, and then after that, voters need to impose term limits on politicians who get too chummy and/or are there too long. its harder to see this stuff when the economy is going full steam ahead and everything is flush with cash, but when the private sector contacts, these absurdities come to light. probably the only good thing about this recession.

maineconservative on September 23, 2011 at 10:46 AM

This did not make the front page of the Arizona republic

What about the Arizona Times?

Bishop on September 23, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Something’s racist here. I don’t know what, but it’s gotta be. Let me get back to you.

princetrumpet on September 23, 2011 at 10:57 AM

Sorry, but this is nothing new either in Phoenix or anywhere else. Every big city, every state, and the federal government, all have this situation were taxpayers pay a salary for union bosses (because they are ostensibly government workers) but they work solely for the union and never do anything for the government. This is very, very common.

Warner Todd Huston on September 23, 2011 at 10:58 AM

Public unions should never have been allowed to begin with, but their many missteps of late are only going to help bring them down. Of course that assumes it happens before the number of public union members outnumbers the number who pay their wages

pgrossjr on September 23, 2011 at 11:12 AM

In the Italian mafia these were called “no-show jobs”.

slickwillie2001 on September 23, 2011 at 11:22 AM

If you don’t agree to give free money to these unions then, then, you don’t have a heart!

tinkerthinker on September 23, 2011 at 11:30 AM

Just spreading the wealth around… OUR wealth…

Khun Joe on September 23, 2011 at 11:40 AM

One of the candidates in last nites debate said that public employee unions should be banned. I’m having a senior moment and can’t remember who said that. Help!

Mirimichi on September 23, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Awww. But… but… the Unions are here for us. They’re here to help the everyday working person. They’re doing the best they can and making dire sacrifices for the little people day after day. Isn’t that enough? The Unions are just simply misunderstood po’ folk.

They’re just like Barack Hussein Obama… misunderstood hero’s of the working class.

“I, I, I, I, I’m, I’m a warrior for the middle class. I’m happy to fight for the middle class.”

SCOAMF

FlatFoot on September 23, 2011 at 12:02 PM

Missing from the story are the long term costs. How much pension money is going to be paid to full time released union rep’s for the rest of their lives?

Wanna bet they get the same wonderfull stuff-the-pension deal that other public employees get? Think it is NOT possible to run up massive overtime working 100 hours a week representing the union for the last year of their working pension stuffing life?

ALL public unions need to be abolished!

Freddy on September 23, 2011 at 12:41 PM

Let’s not forget that the city agreed to these contracts. Do I think that the study presented in the article presents the full story? Of course not. But the city of Phoenix thought this was a good idea, so who are we to judge? Vote out the officials if you don’t like the contracts.

The war on the middle class continues.

Rainsford on September 23, 2011 at 11:50 PM