If you liked the show in Madison a year ago, start packing your bags for Phoenix — and be sure to get a long-term hotel room. Arizona will follow Wisconsin’s lead in public-employee union reform as a means to tackle their pension overhang and budget issues, but Republicans in control of the legislature plan to go much farther than Scott Walker (h/t ExJon):
Brahm Resnik gives a rundown of the proposal for AZ Central:
The bills would:
-Make it illegal for government bodies to collectively bargain with employee groups. Public safety unions would be included in the ban.
–End the practice of automatic payroll deductions for union dues.
–Ban compensation of public employees for union work.
Wisconsin’s collective bargaining law enacted last year made unions effectively irrelevant by limiting issues that could be bargained by a government and an employee group. Arizona’s bills would do away with collective bargaining entirely and also go beyond Wisconsin law by including public safety unions.
Coupled with Gov. Jan Brewer’s plan to do away with civil-service protections for state employees, the new legislation could make Arizona ground zero for union protests during this election year.
This could be just an opening position for Republican legislators, who represent a strongly right-to-work state and will have more political support for some kind of reform than Republicans did in Wisconsin. They might be offering the worst-case scenario to unions in order to force some concessions more along the lines of what took place in Wisconsin. If not, they are setting themselves up for a big, nasty fight in the middle of an election year.
But that has interesting consequences elsewhere, too. Now that Arizona has dropped this bombshell, unions will want to spend as much money and time as possible in defeating it. That will, however, require a diversion of increasingly scarce resources from elsewhere — perhaps from Wisconsin, where the Walker recall has begun to bog down in majority-approval ratings for Wisconsin’s reforming governor. It might also mean spending less time and money organizing for the presidential election this fall, as it certainly will in Arizona. Big Labor has plenty of cash for one big fight, but three simultaneously? And if the money runs low, they’re going to shift resources to their largest existential threat.