Mayors come and mayors go, but their allegiance to unions doesn’t change an iota. Although this case concerning paying for union activities on city time was filed when Phil Gordon was mayor of Phoenix, union arrogance has gotten even bolder under Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. Unions and their honchos have been among his staunchest supporters and donors.
The daily reports that the City of Phoenix has no intention of ending its practice of using city money to pay for union officers’ activity despite a judge’s recent assertion that it may violate the state constitution.
The Goldwater Institute has taken on the issue of Phoenix and other Arizona cities spending millions of dollars every year to pay employees to perform union work while on the clock in a sham known as “release time.” Goldwater is taking on the city’s contract with the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA).
By executing this deal with PLEA, members of the Phoenix City Council have violated the Arizona Constitution and their duty of loyalty to the taxpayers.
The contract provides nearly a $million 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. For example, two representatives (or three if one is in training) are authorized to leave their post and accompany officers to grievance meetings (which is an alleged violation of the city’s agreement with PLEA). PLEA receives 500 release time hours annually for a lobbyist.
Release time harms police officers. PLEA’s past president confirmed that if the city did not give paid release time to union leaders, more money could go to police officer wages and benefits.
The next time we are told the city needs to raise additional revenue to pay for officers to keep our neighborhoods safe, remember where millions of our tax dollars are going — for union lobbying activities.