Conservative Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer isn’t just wagging her finger in President Barack Obama’s face, showing her disrespect-she’s also going after working people in her state.
A new bill introduced in the state Senate by Brewer’s Republican Party would prevent the state’s unions, which represent tens of thousands of public workers, from collectively bargaining with local governments and school districts. It would essentially kill unions in Arizona, already an anti-union, so-called “right-to-work” state.
As part of a four-bill package, the legislation would make Arizona taxpayers able to bring special action against any state agency or political subdivision if any collective bargaining occurs, make it more difficult for unions to deduct dues from members’ paychecks and ban compensation of public employees for union work while on the job.
What separates this bill from other anti-union bills is that it would not only affect teachers and prison workers but also police and firefighters, who are often Republicans themselves.
The bill is even worse than Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to shackle the unions-his bill excluded police officers and firefighters from the onerous legislation.
The state Senate’s Government Reform Committee passed the bills 4-2 last Wednesday along party lines, and it was then run through the Senate. The bill was introduced the previous Monday and caught the state’s unions by surprise when it made its way through the state’s political branches so quickly.
On top of the proposal to cripple the state’s unions, Brewer is also pushing a $53.7 million plan to give raises to certain state employees who sacrifice merit protections as part of a proposal to change Arizona’s personnel system.
But before anything is signed, unions are promising that they’ll be out in full force this week once the debate starts on the floor.
“My understanding is that there will be turnout. There will be a coordinated effort for turnout,” said Arizona AFSCME President Sheri Van Horsen to local affiliate ABC 15. “The public employees are saying ‘enough already.”
“I certainly don’t want to give away strategy about how we are going to defend ourselves at this point,” said Professional Firefighters of Arizona President Tim Hill. “But members pay dues and they expect certain results for that. We’ll do what we need to do to defend the rights of our membership.”