Taking the unions to court in Arizona

posted at 12:20 pm on December 8, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

Regular readers will recall our previous coverage of the ongoing saga of the Goldwater Institute and the investigative work they’ve done regarding public worker unions abusing taxpayers in Arizona. Whether it’s paying union officials full time salaries on the taxpayer time while doing no work for the public or trying to fire one of their own people who dares to ask where the money goes, the tales have been pretty shocking. Unfortunately, the hoped for cleansing effect of bringing these stories to the attention of the public has not come about, and now they’re taking one of the unions to court.

In September, Goldwater Institute investigative reporter Mark Flatten released an investigative report showing that Phoenix and other Arizona cities spend millions of dollars every year to pay employees to perform union work on city time. It’s called “release time.” The Goldwater Institute is taking on the city’s contract with the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA). By executing this deal with PLEA, the members of the Phoenix City Council have violated the Arizona Constitution and their duty of loyalty to the taxpayers.

The contract provides an estimated $900,000 in annual release time for police union work, including lobbying. Six officers are released from city work on a full-time basis (each receiving 160 hours of overtime at 1.5x their regular salary). PLEA also uses 35 representatives. These representatives are not given a set amount of release time. Instead, they are authorized to use an unspecified amount of release time to accompany fellow officers to grievance meetings, use of force hearings, etc.

The case is Cheatham v. Gordon, representing Phoenix taxpayers William R. Cheatham and Marcus Huey. Clint Bolick provides a succinct explanation of why the taxpayers are rightly fed up and need to seek a remedy through the courts.

Only a few years ago, Phoenix voters agreed to raise their sales tax to hire more police officers and firefighters. Would they have done so knowing that much of the revenue would wind up as a union giveaway? Moreover, PLEA itself confesses that release-time means less money for police officer salaries.

Beyond endangering public safety, the release time is an unconstitutional subsidy. The Arizona Constitution prohibits gifts to individuals or private entities by subsidy or otherwise. In 1984, the Court upheld a school district’s release-time provision because the cost was minimal and the duties imposed were significant. Here the cost is massive and the benefits are negligible.

How this continues to happen while workers – both public and private sector – continue to scramble for jobs and face layoffs is a mystery. All the states wind up crying poverty, and everyone has to deal in a realistic fashion with tightening their belts and making sure that the taxpayer gets the most bang for their scare bucks. To see those tax dollars going to provide full time employment (in some cases with massive amounts of overtime charges at time and a half rates) for union workers to conduct union business while providing nothing to the public should rightly bring people out in the streets. Perhaps the courts will understand the fundamental betrayal of the taxpayers going on here and lend a hand.

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Sure, just about anybody can make a typo like that. But when you’re making the equivalent of a typo in SIZE 360 FONT, one cant but help question your intelligence, lady.

Jeddite on December 8, 2011 at 12:25 PM

The sign in that picture is priceless.

Scrappy on December 8, 2011 at 12:25 PM

So city cops are on release time, on the tax payers dime, why?

I hate unions.

upinak on December 8, 2011 at 12:26 PM

The way forward seems dark, indeed.

HopeHeFails on December 8, 2011 at 12:26 PM

“unions our my cup of tea” ?

lorien1973 on December 8, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Unions gave us weekends, Christmas, and the Voyager spacecraft, they deserve to have the best of everything.

Bishop on December 8, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Lol that sign is hysterical.

Who is Jon Galt Huntsman? on December 8, 2011 at 12:27 PM

PEU’s need to be banned. Government employee unions are negotiating for their member against whom? AGAINST THE PEOPLE. That should not be allowed.

wildcat72 on December 8, 2011 at 12:28 PM

“Defeet Corprate Gread!”

VegasRick on December 8, 2011 at 12:28 PM

The sign in that picture is priceless.

Scrappy on December 8, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Forgive her, she was educated by a teacher’s union.

dernst2 on December 8, 2011 at 12:29 PM

I’m glad to see Phoenix is so rich we can flush money away like this. I guess the recession is over then.

/

Jeff2161 on December 8, 2011 at 12:29 PM

How this continues to happen while workers – both public and private sector – continue to scramble for jobs and face layoffs is a mystery.

It happens because people don’t know about it- which in turn happens because the media doesn’t want them to know about it. The biggest threat to this country right now is the increasingly monolithic liberal MSM and educational establishment. People can’t protest or vote against what they don’t know about.

gglazner on December 8, 2011 at 12:29 PM

Unions gave us weekends, Christmas, and the Voyager spacecraft, they deserve to have the best of everything.

Bishop on December 8, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Don’t forget whiskey and port-a-potties!

VegasRick on December 8, 2011 at 12:30 PM

I don’t trust the courts in this situation

cmsinaz on December 8, 2011 at 12:31 PM

Welcome to the PEU world.

dboley on December 8, 2011 at 12:35 PM

How this continues to happen while workers – both public and private sector – continue to scramble for jobs and face layoffs is a mystery.

Mystery? Not at all. It’s called “PAYOFF”.

GarandFan on December 8, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Bishop on December 8, 2011 at 12:27 PM
Don’t know if snark.

Unions also shot at my dad while I was in his truck. So if I get a vote all unionists can die and I will not shed one tear.

traye on December 8, 2011 at 12:37 PM

But unioning is hard.

tinkerthinker on December 8, 2011 at 12:45 PM

Maybe other states citizens can follow AZ to take the union thugs to court?
L

letget on December 8, 2011 at 12:46 PM

Huey and Cheatham? Ok, maybe it’s real, but I have reservations. Are you sure there’s no misprint and it’s actually three people involved – Duey, Cheatham, and Howe?

hadsil on December 8, 2011 at 12:48 PM

Government unions should not be allowed.

albill on December 8, 2011 at 12:52 PM

“unions our my cup of tea” ?

Apparently neither is proofreading!

melle1228 on December 8, 2011 at 12:56 PM

The sign in that picture is priceless.

Scrappy on December 8, 2011 at 12:25 PM

Here’s hoping that she is not part of the teachers’ union.

Happy Nomad on December 8, 2011 at 12:58 PM

Our you kidding me?

tommyboy on December 8, 2011 at 12:58 PM

Our ewe are eweyon rep?

2Tru2Tru on December 8, 2011 at 1:03 PM

Our ewe are eweyon rep?

2Tru2Tru on December 8, 2011 at 1:03 PM

funny.

dboley on December 8, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Union power is right at the crest of the PROGRESSIVE TSUNAMI that is about to land full force on the shores of the Republic.

Liberty can be swept out to sea in an instant if it’s not anchored deep.

God help us be locked into the bedrock.

PappyD61 on December 8, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Please relax. It’s not like she carries a gun… She’s the 911 operator.

WryTrvllr on December 8, 2011 at 1:07 PM

please don’t goof on that sign.

that’s my state’s teachers union leader.

acyl72 on December 8, 2011 at 1:14 PM

Dat pikchur is unpossible. Its onlee dose Tee Partyers dat fail english.

PerceptorII on December 8, 2011 at 1:15 PM

Our ewe are eweyon rep?

2Tru2Tru on December 8, 2011 at 1:03 PM

eweNyon – that’s e-w-e-N-y-o-n.

Jeez. Lurn too spel, awlreddy.

notropis on December 8, 2011 at 1:15 PM

close the comments

2tru2tru wins in landslide

acyl72 on December 8, 2011 at 1:16 PM

ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.

When the animals take over the farm, they think it is the start of a better life. Their dreams is of a world where all animals are equal and all property is shared. But soon the pigs take control and one of them, Napoleon, becomes the leader of all the animals.

Oh, wait…!

/

Seven Percent Solution on December 8, 2011 at 1:19 PM

It could have been worse…..she could have spelled it hour.

Gooood grief!

herm2416 on December 8, 2011 at 1:35 PM

How about we just cut to the chase and send the union boss crooks straight to jail?

texanne on December 8, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Kind of on the same topic…we have getting a daily dosage of the state and fate of the US Post Office. The postmaster was on one of the morning shows stating he had to budget according to revenue because they were NOT a government agency with unlimited resources. Then he related that he doles out $3 billion for health care and $8 billion for retirement benefits (may have it backwards, pretty sure the total was $11 billion though) and that and the internet was causing them to go broke.

The internets been around for 25 years at least. They negotiated the benefits they can’t afford. So why can’t they file bankruptcy and reorganize under a workable plan without involving the government?

DanMan on December 8, 2011 at 1:44 PM

Our local Fox affilate had a long piece on this last night. The stated that the City of Phoenix pays $3.6 million annually in no-show jobs to 23 union members. They had the prez of the AFSCME local on and asked him what the public gets for it’s money. He said that the workers get their rights protected. He would not answer the simple question of why the public needs to pay for these workers to do union work.

DrW on December 8, 2011 at 1:47 PM

I live in AZ and heard about this a few months ago thru news sources nowhere near AZ.
The media here is thoroughly leftist.

Hard Right on December 8, 2011 at 1:49 PM

Hey hey, not so hard on the sign – it’s teaching students to stretch their minds and not be so locked in by spelling/grammar dogma. It’s like this new language curriculum for the texting generation:

7H15 M3554G3 53RV35 7O PR0V3 H0W 0UR M1ND5 C4N D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5! 1MPR3551V3 7H1NG5! 1N 7H3 B3G1NN1NG 17 WA5 H4RD BU7 N0W, 0N 7H15 LIN3 Y0UR M1ND 1S R34D1NG 17 4U70M471C4LLY W17H 0U7 3V3N 7H1NK1NG 4B0U7 17, B3 PROUD! 0NLY C3R741N P30PL3 C4N R3AD 7H15.

Marcola on December 8, 2011 at 1:53 PM

After almost 3.25 years it should now be obvious that Obama and his allies have a focused strategy of looting the public to the benefits of unions, and the politicians that they the unions support, at all levels of government.

Regarding non-coverage of such stories in the MSM, it should also be obvious that the reporter’s old clarion call of “follow the money” does not apply to PEU stories anywhere…

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on December 8, 2011 at 1:54 PM

When asked about the sign, the woman replied, “Yeah, f***ing autocorrect.”

beatcanvas on December 8, 2011 at 2:05 PM

1F Y0U 7H1NK 1GN0R4NC3 15 3XP3N51V3, 7RY 1GN0R4NC3 W17H F1F733N 81LL10N 1N D387

WryTrvllr on December 8, 2011 at 2:08 PM

7R1LL10N

WryTrvllr on December 8, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Not to worry. The unions are now working on a plan to unionize motherhood.

iamsaved on December 8, 2011 at 2:21 PM

And remember, Phoenix leaders convinced voters to put a sales tax on grocery purchases in order to avoid budget cuts for public safety. Howz that workin out for ya?

I wonder if the vote might have gone differently had this information been widely reported. But don’t worry, there’s big news that two Democrat politicians are calling for Sheriff Arpaio to resign.

azkag on December 8, 2011 at 3:14 PM

The public sector unions exist via an executive order by JFK. Thats it.

Is there a potential POTUS with the audacity to simply cancel that EO?

Mimzey on December 8, 2011 at 3:41 PM

Huey and Cheatham? Ok, maybe it’s real, but I have reservations. Are you sure there’s no misprint and it’s actually three people involved – Duey, Cheatham, and Howe?

No, it’s two of the named partners of Boyd, Huey, Cheatham, and Howe

The Monster on December 8, 2011 at 4:24 PM

Only a few years ago, Phoenix voters agreed to raise their sales tax to hire more police officers and firefighters.

Only last year we also got another kick to the nuggets because we might have to layoff teachers. It’s never enough with these clowns. They scared the people with kids and wiped out the opposition.

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/05/23/20100523arizona-tax-hike-trend.html

The jist of the message from gov’t:
“If you/we don’t pass this tax hike we’ll have to layoff
______________ .(insert public servant title here)

God forbid we take a hachet to all the bureaucracy in gov’t.

I went to the DMV which is supposed open until 5pm but they do not take any new customers after 430pm. So when I rolled in at 440pm the place was empty except for the workers just milling around. How much of that BS is going across the state…..across the country??!?!?! What a waste & loss of man hours and $$$$$!!
The bank I worked at didn’t lock the doors until 5pm and if you were walking up to the doors we let you in to be helped.

State workers = don’t give a rat’s behind because whatcha gonna do?
Private sector workers = care a lot, don’t want to be fired or laid off. (But the private sector is EVIL!)

VikingGoneWild on December 8, 2011 at 4:53 PM

blink on December 8, 2011 at 1:08 PM

The person accompanying the officer isn’t going to testify, blink, they are going to be their advocate – essentially a defense lawyer for the hearing. It’s part of how they protect the rights of the officers when they’re accused of something. However, that person should be paid for with union dues, *not* with taxpayer funds.

VikingGoneWild on December 8, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Our DMVs here stop taking customers for driving tests at 4:30 (and understandably so), but don’t shut the doors until very close to 5pm. Every time I have been there near that time, the place has several customers still waiting or being helped.

GWB on December 9, 2011 at 8:54 AM