Arizona legislature moves toward curbing union abuses

Last year we brought you up to date with the efforts of the Goldwater Institute to fight union corruption and abuse of taxpayer dollars in Arizona. In what should serve as an inspiration to activists everywhere, their voices have been heard and the state government has opened up a series of legislative actions to remedy the problem. These include one measure to do away with collective bargaining for government employees who are paid off the taxpayer dime and three which limit how union dues are collected and applied where public work is ostensibly being performed.

As I’m sure will come as no surprise, the unions are up in arms.

Labor unions plan to rally in front of the Arizona State Capitol on Thursday afternoon to protest four bills quickly moving through the state Legislature that could make last year’s Wisconsin labor laws look modest by comparison.

Three of the four bills restrict the way unions collect dues and the way workers get paid for union activities. The fourth bans collective bargaining between governments and government workers: state and local. Unlike Wisconsin, it affects all government employees, including police and firefighters.

“It seems as though those employees or at least the unions that represent them don’t care what the burden is on the taxpayer as long as they get theirs,” says state Sen. Rick Murphy, a Republican who is sponsoring the bills.

Others are describing these actions as “Wisconsin on steroids” and looking to derail the effort.

“Wisconsin on steroids” –a sweeping set of anti-union laws even more severe than those passed in Madison last March over massive public outcry—is now on the legislative agenda in Arizona. Arizona Republicans seek to ban local unions of teachers, firefighters, police, and other public servants from collective bargaining, and would even prohibit local officials from conferring with unions. These and other proposals set a new low in proposed restrictions on union rights.

Of course, the actual proposals seek to stop taxpayer dollars from being wasted for full time union officials who do no actual work for the public, spending all their time on union business. Yet even that seems to be a bridge too far for the unions.

One problem which should seem obvious is that some of these public sector employees are police and firefighters, the first responders who are supported by virtually everyone. While their work is something which crosses party lines and they are heroes cheered on by all of us, their unions can, on occasion, abuse that reputation, resulting in unfair burdens on the taxpayer. But, by the same token, we want to make sure that they are compensated at a fair rate similar to their colleagues in the rest of the states. How do the current legislative actions address this? Hot Air asked the Goldwater Institute’s Nick Dranias to explain.

This is about stopping government unions from having a special privilege to use the force of law to extract maximum concessions from elected officials and taxpayers.

Our reforms treat all government unions equally, and go no farther than what the law has been in Virginia for more than 30 years.

First responders in Virginia do fine without collective bargaining laws that give government unions special privileges to negotiate subsidies, like release time, from the taxpayer in secrecy with elected officials.

Arizona is breaking new ground here and could use the support of other right to work advocates around the nation who seek equal footing on both sides and a fair voice for the taxpayer in how their money is spent. We will continue to monitor this legislation as it moves forward.