Taxpayers Deserve Pension Reform and Bob Robson is Standing in the Way

When Union Bosses Want to Stop Reform, they Just Wind Up Bob Robson

Today the Arizona Free Enterprise Club has begun a mail campaign to educate voters on Rep. Bob Robson’s opposition to much needed state pension reforms. “If there is one person at the legislature that Union Bosses rely on to protect their sweetheart deals, it is Rep. Bob Robson.” Executive Director Scot Mussi said. “Arizona’s pension system is in crisis, and Rep. Robson continually sides with Union Bosses over hardworking taxpayers.”

This year three pieces of legislation were introduced to help fix our broken pension system, and Robson has worked tirelessly to defeat them all:

  • Robson joined the democrats to kill House Bill 2060, legislation to add oversight and protections on managing Arizona’s pension system.
  • Robson first voted “present” on a bill to end pension spiking (HB 2058), then voted NO when it came up for a vote a second time.
  • Robson casted the deciding vote to kill HB 2090, a bill that would have created a 401(k)-style retirement plan option for state employees.

Pension reform isn’t the only issue in which Robson has been a reliable Union vote—his opposition to paycheck protection and ending taxpayer funded release time has been known for years. “Voters deserve to know when their elected officials are out of step on big issues like pension reform and special union deals.” Mussi said. “We hope our efforts help raise awareness of this problem.”

Here’s a copy of the mailer:

RobsonMailer1 RobsonMailer2

Phoenix to comply with court order, stop funding union activities with taxpayer monies

Great news for Phoenix taxpayers, Councilman Sal DiCiccio and the rule of law!

City of Phoenix Announces Today it Will Stop Using taxpayer monies to fund All Union Activities. Will Comply with Court Ruling

Last week, it was announced that the city of Phoenix will be forced to stop funding Phoenix Law Enforcement Association’s (PLEA) union activities, Today, the City’s administration has decided to apply the ruling to all City of Phoenix unions. (View Court Decision and City Manager’s memo below) 

“This is big news for the taxpayers of Phoenix. Instead of using taxpayers’ money to fund union activities, we can use this money on vital City services. This money should be used to end domestic violence, end human trafficking, and put more police on the street,” said Councilman Sal DiCiccio.

The following quote is from page 8 of the court ruling released on January 29: “This evidence supports the conclusion that the City Council abused their discretion in approving the release time at issue.” This was approved on a 5-4 vote with Mayor Stanton being the swing vote.

It is disappointing that the Mayor and Council were complicit in funding union activities which in turn supported their candidates and then, once those candidates were elected, continued to give millions of taxpayer dollars back to the unions. It was a vicious circle which has caused the large budget deficit we have seen this year.

Mayor Stanton was the swing vote to use taxpayer monies to fund union activity, the swing vote to keep pension spiking and presented a budget supporting the food tax (which was immediately proven to be false).

“It’s time for the Mayor and those council members to protect taxpayers and not the government unions,” said DiCiccio.

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To view the court decision: http://phoenix.gov/webcms/groups/internet/@inter/@pcc/@dist6/documents/web_content/d6statementattachmentjan2914.pdf

To view the City Manager’s memo: http://phoenix.gov/webcms/groups/internet/@inter/@pcc/@dist6/documents/web_content/d6citymgrmemo.pdf

Ask Senator Bob Worsley to help rein in government employee unions!

To all LD-25 Republicans!

Government employee unions in Arizona are out of control

Government employee unions withhold dues automatically from employee wages, siphon political funds out of paychecks without safeguards for employees who disagree with the unions’ political agendas, and give workers paid time off (on the taxpayer’s dime!) to engage in pro-union lobbying.  Then, the unions meet and confer with elected officials (many of whom they helped elect) in closed-door meetings!  Finally, the unions use all that money and paid time off to lobby for more taxpayer dollars and to block pro-market and pro-consumer reforms such as school choice!

And then there is union political spending, which is heavily partisan.  According to data available at the Secretary of State’s website, government employee unions gave money to the Democrat and Republican parties in a ratio of 48 to 1.  Even in House legislative races, where the unions were reportedly going to go “easy” on Republicans, the ratio of support for Democrats versus Republicans was four to one.  On the Senate side, the partisan spending ratio was 13 to 1. This involuntary, partisan spending by union bosses does not reflect rank-and-file workers’ political views.

ASK BOB WORSLEY TO VOTE FOR UNION REFORM BILLS

State Senator Bob Worsley (R-Mesa/LD25) failed to defend taxpayers and voted against a key union reform bill, Paycheck Protection (SB 1182) on Thursday, February 21.  Please contact him and encourage him to allow vote for Paycheck Protection and ALL of the union reform bills next time around.  Rather than following a failed policy of trying to appease the unions, conservatives need to take away the unions’ political slush funds.  Please contact Sen. Worsley (bworsley@azleg.gov and/or 602-926-) with the following short message: “I am writing/calling to respectfully request that you vote for ALL of the labor reform bills (especially SB 1349 — Paycheck Protection — but also HB 2438, HB 2330, HB 2343 and HB 2026) when they come to floor and/or committee votes.

Paycheck Protection (SB 1349 and HB 2438)  —  Of the labor reforms moving in the Legislature this year, passing Paycheck Protection is the most important objective for 2013.  Aside from the principled objective of protecting workers’ freedom of association, the political impact of Paycheck Protection cannot be overstated.  After Washington passed Paycheck Protection, teacher union PAC funds in that State shrank by 75 percent.  After Utah passed the reform, teacher union political funds shrank by 90 percent.  Paycheck Protection (SB 1349 and HB 2438) would prohibit government employers from taking money from employee’s paychecks for political activities without express annual authorization.

Transparency in government union negotiations (HB 2330)  —  HB 2330 would protect taxpayers by requiring that union collective bargaining (“meet-and-confer”) be subject to the same open meeting laws as other government meetings, including the requirement that meetings be recorded by audiovisual means.

Reform abuses of government union release time (HB 2343)  —  HB 2343 would protect taxpayers by prohibiting governments from giving government workers paid time off (on the taxpayer dime!) for engaging in pro-union lobbying. 

(For more info, contact:  Tom Jenney, AFP-Arizona, www.aztaxpayers.org, tjenney@afphq.org)

Representative Bob Robson – Release HB2026 & HB2330!

Conservative activists Marcus Huey just released the following email:

US House Representatives Franks, Schweikert, Salmon and Gosar have sent a letter to Arizona House Speaker Tobin, urging him to debate and vote on the union reform bills currently proposed in the legislature.

As of today, Tobin is still holding these bills. The logic (excuse?) Tobin seems to be using is to wait and see if the AZ Senate passes any union reform bills. If the Senate does not pass union reform bills, then why should the House be bothered?

UnionsThis is not true leadership. A real leader would be working for the distressed taxpayer and rallying his membership to get behind union reform. Passing off excuses and hiding behind the Senate is cowardly and WILL have consequences. If you are a government union supporter then man up and publicly admit it, stop using the system to hide. What happens at the legislature no longer stays in the legislature. Those days are gone.

Please help get Representative Ugenti’s HB2026, Paycheck Protection, and Representative Montenegro’s HB 2330, Union Transparency, moved out of Robson’s Rules Committee so that these important bills can be debated and voted on on the House floor. This is how true Democracy is supposed to work.

Please Email Rep. Robson at: brobson@azleg.gov | 602-926-5549

Also, let’s call Tobin’s bluff and get Senator Griffin’s Paycheck Protection bill SB 1182 approved in the Senate. This bill will be voted on at the beginning of this week. The vote is EXTREMELY close.

Please email and urge the following Senators to vote YES on SB 1182:

Senator Biggs: abiggs@azleg.gov | 602-926-4371

Senator McComish: jmccomish@azleg.gov | 602-926-5898

Senator Crandall: rcrandall@azleg.gov | 602-956-3020

Senator Worsley: bworsley@azleg.gov | 602-926-5760

Time is short – we need to get this done in the next few days or these bills will die!

Judge blocks Phoenix police from paying officers for union work

Sen. Murphy: Ruling shows SB 1486 was right idea

(Phoenix, State Capitol)—-A Maricopa Superior Court judge Tuesday ruled the City of Phoenix and the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association can’t spend taxpayer money to pay officers for union work, instead of law enforcement duties. A contract agreed to by Phoenix and PLEA allows more than one million dollars to be spent for six police officers to do union work instead of traditional law enforcement.

Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper ruled the so-called release time is likely a violation of Arizona’s gift clause, because it is not for a public purpose, but instead serves the private interests of PLEA.

Today’s ruling is vindication for Senate Bill 1486, sponsored by Senator Rick Murphy. That bill prohibited a public employer from compensating a public employee for non duty-related union activities. Instead of agreeing to reasonable restrictions, the unions gambled on an all-or-nothing approach, and with this ruling, they have nothing.

“Judge Cooper made the proper decision, and we are going to see the end of release time in our state,” says Senator Murphy. “Taxpayers expect our great men and women in blue to protect and serve, not lobby for legislation that benefits the union.”

SB 1486 passed comfortably in the Senate in February, but died in the House of Representatives when House leadership blocked the bill from going to the floor.

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Big Labor Attempts to Commandeer American Airlines

By Timothy Lee

Big Labor is at it again. This time in the airline industry.

As you’ve probably heard, US Airways has proposed a merger with American Airlines, and the latter’s labor unions have eagerly pursued contract agreements with their potential new employer. A benevolent effort meant to expedite the process? Hardly. Rather, it is a hasty, thinly-veiled act of desperation. Instead of allowing American’s bankruptcy restructuring process to run its natural course, and a stronger airline to emerge, American’s unions have acted in a manner that can only serve to muddle and complicate the situation.

Here’s the critical fact to keep in mind: American Airlines reached its current predicament due primarily to its onerous labor costs. Its industry-high labor costs, representing fully 28% of its revenue, led to bankruptcy. Now, however, its unions seek to repeat that futile process by pursuing similar deals with US Airways. It defies history and economic reality to believe that a new merger under similar conditions would create such a magical synergy allowing the new contracts to be sustained for a lasting amount of time.

On top of that, successfully integrating two separate workforces into one can be a logistical nightmare. After all, US Airways itself has yet to fully integrate the new employees it acquired with its 2005 takeover of America West Airlines. Pilots from both carriers have engaged in an ongoing dispute over seniority and pay scales, and to this day US Airways and America West essentially operate as two separate entities, with US Airways pilots only flying US Airways planes and vice-versa. How could repeating that scenario be expected to create sudden synergies or cost savings? What evidence is there that this union-proposed takeover might play out differently?

Make no mistake – we at CFIF don’t maintain any inherent antipathy toward mergers. We do, however, recognize the pitfalls and dangers of mergers suspiciously pursued and negotiated by union bosses. The unfortunate reality is that this appears to be yet another example of Big Labor pursuing its own interests at the expense of the rank-and-file employees it claims to represent.

By way of historical background, the airline industry has changed rapidly over the years due to rising fuel costs and other market forces. Countless carriers have restructured union contracts or merged with competitors to reduce costs and remain in the market.

American Airlines stands as the lone exception.

American has never merged with another airline, and until this year it had never filed for bankruptcy. As a result, its unionized employees have enjoyed arguably the best salaries and benefits packages in the industry. And in an ironic bit of history, US Airways has itself gone through several bankruptcies over the years, and even frozen or terminated pensions and many of the types of benefits they’re apparently ceding to American’s labor unions in hopes of a quick deal.

We live in economically uncertain times, in which the cushy union contracts of old have become outdated and fiscally unsustainable. The fact that American, once the nation’s model airline, is bankrupt is itself evidence of how challenging it has become to operate in the industry. Big Labor knows this well. After all, it represents a significant percentage of the industry workforce. Sadly, however, it refuses to learn the straightforward lessons of recent history, and instead continues to demand unreasonable contracts that will put the longevity and viability of airlines at risk. In so doing, shortsighted union leaders place their own survival above that of their members. They concern themselves primarily with replenishing their coffers and pursuing political victories financed by union dues.

That imprudent approach may benefit the union leadership in the near term. But in the end, it proves to the detriment of average unionized American Airlines employees, as well as customers due to the reduced long-term viability of a bloated, union-controlled airline. The alternative is to allow American the opportunity to right the ship and carve out a new, mutually-beneficial agreement with its employees. Concessions will need to be made by both management and labor, and it will necessary for American Airlines’ bankruptcy proceedings to run its course.

The Big Labor alternative to repeat the unsustainable cycle will merely prolong the misery at the expense of employees and consumers.

Tobin in the “Hot” Seat

There is growing chatter around the state capitol that House Speaker Andy Tobin is walking a thin line with his caucus and might have a tough time keeping the Speaker’s chair if he chooses not to run for Congress.  Many members feel he has gone overboard in playing favorites with members’ bills and has kept them from voting on bills they want to vote for.

One prime example is the union bills, dealing with “paycheck protection” and so-called “release time.”  Many members have constituents telling them that it’s ridiculous that a Republican super majority doesn’t have the backbone to reign in the public employee unions, especially when they’re doing union work on taxpayer time.

If (well, WHEN) public empoloyee unions spend money against Republicans in this years’ elections, especially in the more closely contested new districts, majority House members will wonder why their Speaker didn’t have their back.  Once they have lost confidence in their leader, and lost a few of their colleagues, they’ll be looking for a new leader.

Tick tock, Mr. Speaker…you’re running out of time.

Gullett to Stanton: Stop supporting union abuse

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 27, 2011
CONTACT: Daniel Scarpinato

PHOENIX – Mayoral candidate Wes Gullett is calling on career-politician Greg Stanton to stand up to the entrenched interests at City Hall and join him in pledging to end the abusive union contracts that are wasting $3.7 million a year by letting city employees do union, lobbying and political work instead of their jobs – contracts Stanton has supported.

A blockbuster report released last week by the Goldwater Institute found that Phoenix taxpayers are shelling out roughly $3.7 million a year for city employees to conduct union business instead of doing their jobs. In total, city employees are being released for more than 73,000 hours to conduct union and political business – not the peoples’ business. The same public-employee unions benefitting from those contracts have endorsed Stanton.

“Phoenix’s next mayor should be accountable to the taxpayers – not to public-employee unions,” Gullett said. “As a councilman, Greg Stanton voted to raise water rates, raise parking meter rates and raise fees, all while wasting millions of dollars on contracts for union organizing, lobbying and political activities. Instead, I urge Greg to pledge to stop wasting millions a year by letting unions abuse the public’s trust. Greg should do the right thing and stand up for Phoenix taxpayers, not the entrenched interests at City Hall who are supporting his campaign.”

According to the Goldwater report, “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 report finds that “public-employee unions still wield outsized influence on elected officials – and they are using that power to feather their own nests.”

To read the statement Gullett released the day the report was released, click here.

Stanton has been silent and was silent during his nine years on the City Council.

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UNION INVESTIGATION: Wes Gullett calls for an end to taxpayer subsidies for labor activity

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 21, 2011
CONTACT: Daniel Scarpinato

Career-politician Greg Stanton is beholden to every major public-employee union 

PHOENIX – On the heels of an investigation released by the Goldwater Institute today, Mayoral candidate Wes Gullett says if elected, he will end the practice of using taxpayer dollars to subsidize union activities. And he’s calling for greater transparency and oversight to stop these abuses from happening again.

“This is just more evidence of why we need top to bottom reform in city government,” Gullett said. “The status quo isn’t working because of career-politicians like Greg Stanton. I’ll stand up for the taxpayers and end this kind of abuse. Greg Stanton is the poster child of the influence public-employee unions wield on elected officials and politicians. Greg Stanton has been endorsed by every one of the unions who are negotiating these outrageous contracts because he supported these abuses during his nine years on the city council and he’ll continue to support these abuses.”

According to the Goldwater report, “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 report finds that “public-employee unions still wield outsized influence on elected officials – and they are using that power to feather their own nests.”

The practice is costing Phoenix taxpayers roughly $3.7 million a year, and city employees are being released for more than 73,000 hours to conduct unions business – not the peoples’ business.

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Kirk Adams stands up to Labor Union Intimidation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 6, 2011
CONTACT: Chad Heywood

Kirk Adams releases new campaign video

Mesa, AZ – Barack Obama, his liberal allies and union bosses are destroying American prosperity. But unlike the Washington politicians bowing to these attacks on American workers and the free market, Kirk Adams has a record of standing up to the union lobbyists here in Arizona.

Adams’ leadership taking on the unions and reforming Arizona public pension system to save taxpayers from being on the hook for millions of dollars in unfunded liabilities is the subject of his campaign’s first video, released today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQUcVGcoJcI

Just a year ago, Arizona’s state pension system was on a path towards insolvency. As Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, Adams authored and passed major reforms to this ticking time bomb, despite fear mongering and intimidation tactics by government employee unions. Adams even announced he would give-up his government pension, literally putting his money where his mouth is. The special interests and government unions fought the reforms and pledged to fight back in future elections. Adams stood firm and with a steady hand passed pension reform; thus carving a new trajectory for Arizona’s state pension system.

“Passing pension reform was a top priority on my agenda and it is my hope these same efforts will be replicated across the nation,” Adams said. “There is no doubt that special interest and government unions will do everything in their power to stop such legislation-I still have the scars on my back to prove it. With the recent Labor Day threats, conservatives must stand strong at the state and federal level and do what is right regardless of the political consequences.”

Kirk Adams is a rising star in the Republican Party, and a conservative reformer who shook-up Arizona’s state Capitol and will do the same thing in Congress.

A husband, father and small businessman, after joining the state House in 2006, Adams found himself so frustrated by the unwillingness and inability of Republicans in the Legislature to stand up for their conservative principals that he launched a long-shot campaign to oust the veteran Speaker of the House.

Adams shocked the Republican establishment and political class, winning the Speakership at only 35 years of age.

Adams led the House back in a conservative direction with an aggressive reform agenda, taking on some of the most challenging issues in Arizona history – issues others were afraid to address because of the potential political fallout.

A native Arizonan, Adams and his wife JaNae live in Mesa and have five children.

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