Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The Rising of American workers that began with the Madison Revolution in Wisconsin in February 2011 is now showing signs of life in Arizona.
Protest rallies have been held in Tucson and Phoenix in recent weeks, and a Day of Action at the state capitol is planned for this Thursday by the Arizona AFL-CIO. (Below the fold).
Arizona lawmakers have been barraged with union members’ complaints about the package of anti-union bills sponsored by Sen. Rick Murphy, R-Peoria. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports Public employee union bills stall in Arizona Senate - Arizona Capitol Times:
Several Republican-sponsored bills targeting government employee unions appear stalled in the Arizona Senate, a week after one such measure was approved.
The Senate was scheduled to consider a measure Thursday that would bar using tax dollars to pay for workers’ union activities, but the sponsor said he asked that its consideration be postponed.
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Mike Colletto, a lobbyist for a firefighters union, said lawmakers have been barraged with union members’ complaints about the bills and Thursday’s postponement was due simply to a lack of votes for the bill.
Two other Murphy bills that have yet to be scheduled for consideration by the full Senate also lack the necessary votes, Colletto said.
One of those would ban collective bargaining with public employee unions. The second would bar using government workers’ paychecks to collect union dues.
The Senate last week approved a fourth bill sponsored by another Republican senator that would bar paycheck withholding for unions and other entities without annual reauthorizations by the workers. The measure has been sent to the House.
As reported previously, the alleged "savings" from this bill were refuted by a JLBC report which says that it will actually cost state and local governments more money to administer annual renewals. Anti-Union dues deduction bill would cost local governments more money.
The Arizona Daily Star on Sunday published an editorial opinion opposed to the plan by Gov. Jan Brewer aka Boss Tweed to destroy the civil service merit selection system and to return to the spoils system of political patronage. Cutting worker protections unnecessary:
Gov. Jan Brewer's proposal to eliminate civil service protection for many Arizona public employees - which would make it easier to fire workers - is unnecessary, coercive and purports to fix a problem that, even if it does exist, does not justify such a destructive overhaul.
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Brewer's plan, as outlined in a strike-all amendment to HB 2571, doesn't provide a convincing argument for the widespread changes she seeks. Among the most damaging would be the overnight removal of most public workers' civil service protections and restricting the grievance process.
Public employees who give up their protections would be eligible for a 5 percent raise, which is more of a bribe, and would force workers to choose between a much-needed pay increase and working conditions.
[NOTE: What the editors fail to mention is that the bill does not provide any funding for the alleged 5 percent pay raise, making this an illusory promise. Workers are being asked to give up their legal rights for a pay raise that is not funded and may never be funded. This is not just a "bribe" but is a fraud.]
[T]hese instances do not justify removing protections from thousands of Arizonans - protection from supervisors who could be acting under political pressure or responding to a complaint that may not be valid.
The changes would not affect law enforcement or corrections workers and the governor would have firing authority over all state agency heads, except the Department of Public Safety, according to reporting by the Arizona Capitol Times. Such an arrangement would give the governor too much power over agencies that should be independent and focused on serving their true customers, the people of Arizona, instead of a political boss.
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[C]onsider the thousands of Arizonans who fill the ranks of public employees: teachers, child protection workers, medical staff, court employees, transportation, environmental and water department staffers, and more. They're people who do important, and often unseen, jobs that keep running many of the public services we take for granted.
Arizonans who work for private companies do not enjoy similar job protections. Arizona is an at-will employment state, which means that employers can fire workers for almost any reason as long as it is not only because the worker is a particular race, gender or similar reason barred by discrimination law - and few employers are sloppy enough to come out and say that's why they're letting a person go. Courts have ruled that an employer can fire a person because he doesn't like an employee's clothing choice.
Instead of focusing on public employees' benefits and trying to take those away, Arizonans would be better served by trying to ensure and improve private-sector protections.
Excellent point! Tea-Publicans have tried to foster envy and resentment for public sector workers by asserting that they should not enjoy any more rights and employee benefits than do workers in the private sector, most of whom have none -- in a race to the bottom.
The Tea-Publican Party has always been the cheap labor party, and its goal has always been to drive down the cost of labor to increase profits to businesses and dividends to the investor class. For thirty years or more the Tea-Publican Party has been systematically destroying the American middle-class by taking away workers' rights and employee benefits that union labor had won for them in hard-fought battles, employee rights and benefits that the American middle-class otherwise would never have enjoyed.
All workers, whether public or private sector, union or non-union, share a common interest and a common opponent. It is time that we all stand together united to demand the restoration of workers' rights and employee benefits to restore the American middle-class.