We should send out another big tip of the hat to Mark Flatten at the Goldwater Institute for yet another piece of investigative journalism where he discovers some of the rather shocking collisions which take place at the intersection of public employee unions and taxpayer dollars. (A pause here, while I realize that it’s probably no longer shocking at this point.) This incident takes place in Phoenix, Arizona at the offices of AFSCME Local 2960, where one of their trustees – charged with monitoring the prudent spending of union funds – apparently exercised the poor judgement to ask if she should be auditing where some of that money goes, specifically in the handling of a large insurance fund.
Natasha Nimer had a simple question: As a trustee in a local labor union representing City of Phoenix employees, did she have a duty to check the books of a taxpayer-funded insurance account it managed?
So she asked the executive board of AFSCME Local 2960. The response was an emphatic “no.”
She dropped the matter and thought it would end there.
She was wrong.
In the months that followed, union officials tried to strip Nimer of her duties as a trustee and steward. They tried twice to force her out of AFSCME, only to have the international headquarters order her reinstated.
Eventually union executives went after Nimer’s job as a civilian employee in the Phoenix Fire Department. They demanded her city phone records, personal and work-related emails, disciplinary files and performance evaluations; even a list of all of the Web sites she had visited. They wanted her computers seized and the hard drives searched for evidence she was doing something wrong.
Oh, she was doing something wrong, alright. She was asking questions about how the massive insurance scheme was being administered and whether she should be seeing if everything was being run in a proper and efficient manner. The result was a series of attacks where her own union tried on multiple occasions to force her from her position as a trustee and even launched an investigation to see if they could force her from her regular, full time job. After the better part of a year she finally gave up and resigned from her position as trustee, saying she felt “beaten down” by the constant pressure and attacks.
Keep in mind that we’re not talking about funds representing dues paid by (mostly) willing members of a private labor union. These are taxpayer dollars. They have people such as Ms. Nimer in place not simply for internal housekeeping, but also to supposedly ensure that taxpayer dollars aren’t being wasted or worse. Apparently that’s all well and good… unless someone actually attempts to do their job.