The Link Between Unions And A Fair Economy In 3 Charts

Originally posted May 22, 2014

BY LYDIA SHIA  |  MAY 21, 2014

These three charts on show how strong unions create an economy that works for all of us.

Over the past few decades, union membership has declined, contributing to increased income inequality. When we take away Americans’ freedom to form a union and negotiate with their employers, we are stacking the deck in favor of big corporations and the 1%.

Strong unions fight against inequality and help every American get a fair shot at success.

If you agree, sign the petition here.

Click the graphs to share them on Facebook.

Hidden Cameras Catch Lobbyists, AZ Lawmakers Wining And Dining

Originally posted Mar 28, 2014

By Morgan Loew - bio | email

PHOENIX (CBS5) -CBS 5 Investigates rolled hidden cameras during a membership drive for one of the country’s most secretive and controversial organizations. Lobbyists and state lawmakers mingled over steaks and drinks in a private room at the Valley’s exclusive Donovan’s Steakhouse.

The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, put on the event. The organization advocates for limited government, federalism and free markets.

But critics argue ALEC is nothing more than a massive lobbying group that uses legislators themselves to push legislation that has included so-called “stand your ground” bills and immigration measures like Arizona’s SB 1070.

“By my count, there were at least 17 members of the Legislature,” said Robbie Sherwood, who is the executive director of Progress Now Arizona, a progressive watchdog group that monitors ALEC activities.

Sherwood said backroom events such as the one attended by CBS 5 Investigates are hallmarks of the way ALEC does business. Every year, the organization flies legislators to a national meeting and pays for their stay. The meetings are often in Washington, DC.

“I don’t know which special interests picked up the tab for those lawmakers, but it wasn’t the legislators themselves,” said Sherwood.

ALEC is organized as a nonprofit, and while these organizations are allowed to lobby, their lobbying activity cannot amount to a substantial portion of their overall mission.

“The laws that apply to nonprofits recognize that everyone has the right to express their opinion,” said Ellis Carter, who is an attorney who specializes in nonprofits.

“If you are engaging in a substantial amount of lobbying, then your primary purpose is not a charitable one,” said Carter.

At least one left-leaning organization filed a complaint against ALEC with the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS exercises oversight of nonprofits.

But the ALEC public sector chair at the Arizona Legislature denies her organization is doing anything wrong.

“We advocate for things we believe in. It’s a great organization,” said Rep. Debbie Lesko, a Northwest Valley Republican, who is ALEC’s point person at the state Capitol.

Lesko said the membership drive was just like any other organization’s.

“I invited every single legislator, whether they were Republican or Democrat, to this meeting. Everyone could come,” said Lesko.

When asked about the lobbyists who were also invited, Lesko denied they were there to work.

“There’s lobbyists that come down to the state Capitol every day, too. That doesn’t mean anything,” said Lesko.

But the leaders of some other organizations told CBS 5 Investigates this is an example of the special treatment some lobbyists and organizations have.

“It is absolutely not a level playing field,” said Steve Brittle, an environmental activist who is often at the Legislature.

“We don’t have access,” said Brittle.

The head of the Arizona Education Association, which is the state teachers’ union, said he tries to get the attention of lawmakers by bringing dozens of taxpayers, who happen to be educators, to the Capitol during their breaks from school.

Asked how he competes with expensive steak dinners, Andrew Morrill said, “Ultimately what you have to have is some careful optimism.”

Morrill likely has his work cut out for him.

While Arizona is not known as a state that spends heavily on education, it is known for immigration control, gun rights and private school tuition grants, three issues that have been associated with ALEC.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Labor Negotiations Process Undergoes Scrutiny

Originally posted Mar 16, 2014


AFSCME President Walter Crenshaw is flanked by members Erik McMorrow and Juan Alvarez as they look over the recommendations set forth by the city’s labor task force. (Photo by Carolyn Dryer)

AFSCME President Walter Crenshaw is flanked by members Erik McMorrow and Juan Alvarez as they look over the recommendations set forth by the city’s labor task force. (Photo by Carolyn Dryer)

Workers come and go, and so do administrators at the department level. The City of Peoria has had three different human resources directors in the past six years. The one who heads the department at the present time is Julie Ayers, who held the same position in Prescott before coming to Peoria.

Last year was a tough one for all parties. Negotiations with the fire and police departments lasted approximately six months, while AFSCME negotiations headed straight into fall before an agreement was finally reached.

Ayers reviewed the lengthy process during a presentation to city council in a Feb. 25 study session. She brought a labor task force list of recommended changes to the city code designed to make negotiations go smoother next year. Any changes, it should be noted, must be approved by council.

One of the recommendations that came out of the task force review was to revise the city code to allow labor organizations and city management to present their initial proposals to city council when negotiations begin. If there are issues that remain unresolved when the negotiations deadline arrives, the employee organizations and management present their case to city council.

The labor task force, in its recommendation, affirms the duty of the city manager (and designees) as a direct appointee and agent of city council, to confer with city council during the negotiation period in executive session.

Regarding the issue of the long negotiation process that taxed city resources and went past the budget deadline last year, the task force came up with other recommendations regarding deadlines for key phases of the meet and confer process. Specific deadlines, limiting the number of members of negotiating teams to a maximum of four each, and allowing each side to bring in subject matter experts to the table for specific issues was also a recommendation.

It was also recommended that a city-paid neutral facilitator be utilized to improve communication and increase process efficiency.

A workflow chart was presented to council that laid out the deadlines for each part of the negotiation process.

Proposed Labor Negotiations Workflow

9/1: Labor request

9/15: Manager response

10/?: Council presentation

Within 10 days: Negotiate at table

12/15: Negotiations at table end. If no agreement, may request mediation. If no mediation, goes to council as indicated in next step.

2/7: If no agreement, management and labor each present to council on unresolved issues. Council direction results in proposed memorandum of understanding. MOU sent to labor for consideration. If labor ratifies, council to consider MOU. If labor does not ratify, council will take action in the public interest resulting in work rules.

And if there are employees who do not want an employee organization representing them, city code already includes a provision for decertification of any employee organization. Employees in a represented classification can bring the issue to an election by filing a petition containing the signatures of more than 50 percent of the employees in that group.

The labor task force recommended the city code be revised to include a process for adjudicating allegations of city code violations relating to unfair labor practices. Complaints would be filed with the city clerk’s office, and then would be referred to an administrative hearing officer. One strike of a hearing officer would be allowed. If an allegation is upheld by the hearing officer, the party in violation would be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $500 as determined by the hearing officer. The hearing officer’s decision would be final.

A code recommendation by the labor task force also would revise city code to clarify the roles of the vari9ous participants in the meet and confer process.

A process recommendation by the labor task force was to have the human resources department create a labor relations section on its website and post periodic neutral updates about the status of negotiations.

A labor relations specialist from the human resources department will lead negotiations with employee organizations on behalf of the city manager.

The entire list of recommendations were discussed by council and it was a consensus that Ayers and the task force bring the recommendations forth to a future council meeting.

Following the study session agenda item conclusion, a small group of AFSCME members gathered in front of council chambers to discuss the meaning of the recommendations.

One member, who remained unidentified, was still bitter following the end of negotiations last year, saying, “Fire and PPOA got a better deal. We’re looked upon as ditch diggers.”

He walked off, and other AFSCME members said the remark referred to the fact that most AFSCME members are technical people or those who do manual labor for the city.

The new president of Peoria’s chapter of AFSCME is Walter Crenshaw, who was elected to replace Randy Cordero, who died just two months ago. Crenshaw is a water meter tech II for the city. Others who were discussing the new labor negotiation process with Crenshaw were Erik McMorrow, building inspector II, and Juan Alvarez, who is a park maintenance worker in the neighborhood parks division in the community services department.

Republican Seeks To Allow Cuts In Public Pensions

Originally posted Jan 29, 2014

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, smiles as he addresses the legislature in the Arizona House of Representatives at the Arizona Capitol Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in Phoenix. The Republican lawmaker wants the state constitution amended to allow cuts to public employee pensions and increases in employee contributions if the systems are badly underfunded. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, smiles as he addresses the legislature in the Arizona House of Representatives at the Arizona Capitol Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in Phoenix. The Republican lawmaker wants the state constitution amended to allow cuts to public employee pensions and increases in employee contributions if the systems are badly underfunded. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

An Arizona lawmaker wants the state constitution amended to allow cuts to public employee pensions and increases in employee contributions if the systems are badly underfunded.

Republican Rep. John Kavanagh introduced a bill that if passed would refer the proposal to the voters. He said in an interview he is targeting automatic cost of living increases but acknowledged nothing in his proposal would prevent cuts to existing pensions.

“This doesn’t remove the pensions, this simply says if the money’s not there the benefits have to be trimmed to make the system healthy. And employees were never promised” cost of living increases, Kavanagh said. But, “if the world was to flip into a recession, and we went into a depression, surely members don’t think that life will go merrily along in the public pension realm.”

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell said Tuesday there are funding problems with the state’s three major pension systems — a fourth for elected officials and judges was closed to new enrollment last year — but said there are ways to deal with that without removing Constitutional protections that bar diminishing promised payouts.

“Penalizing workers or potential workers who work for a public entity isn’t how you solve the problems,” Campbell said. “I’m not sitting here saying there’s not some problems to be addressed with public pensions and long-term issues, but these are not real solutions, these are political stunts.”

Kavanagh said that under his proposal payouts from the state’s three major pension plans would have to be trimmed and contributions from employees and employers raised if reasonable accounting practices found cuts were needed.

“These decreases are only triggered when it’s necessary to maintain the health of the system,” he said. “If the system doesn’t need the cuts you can’t do them.”

Just what would trigger the cuts, however, is only vaguely defined.

If the House and Senate both pass the bill, it would be placed on the November 2014 ballot.

Current state law does not allow existing pensions to be touched. The state’s biggest pension plan, the Arizona State Retirement System, hasn’t given a cost of living increase to retirees since 2005. The two others and the closed judge’s plan do, but they were trimmed by the Legislature under a 2011 law that is facing numerous legal challenges.

The Arizona Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the law unconstitutionally trimmed cost of living adjustments last year but hasn’t issued a ruling.

Many states are grappling with the problem of underfunded public pensions. A proposed ballot initiative in California would allow cities to renegotiate public workers’ future pension and retirement benefits. Oregon’s Legislature passed a law similar to what Arizona passed in 2011 that cuts future cost of living adjustments.

The issue isn’t just constitutional, but also touches on contract law. A promised pension is a contract, and cutting benefits would likely trigger a challenge on that front as well.

ASRS currently has enough money to pay about 75 percent of its expected pensions. The plan has $30.6 billion in assets as of 2012, more than $9 billion short of liabilities, but is generally considered healthy. As of June 2013 it had about 207,000 current members and 122,000 retirees drawing pensions.

The plan for public safety officers has just 57 percent of its expected liabilities, with $6.1 billion in assets and $10.8 billion in liabilities, a balance considered too low. The state’s plan for prison guards is at 67 percent funding, with $1.6 billion in assets and $2.3 billion in liabilities.

Changing the constitution to allow cuts to current and promised pensions doesn’t sit well with retirees, who could see their guaranteed month checks reduced.

“They act like we haven’t given anything,” said Sigrid Whitman, a retired educator who chairs the legislation committee for the All Arizona School Retirees Association. “The average pension is about $20,000 and we worked very hard and paid into it. Obviously we would be very upset if they put that on the ballot and it passed.”

Read more:

Rest In Peace, Randy Cordero

Originally posted Jan 15, 2014

Dear AFSCME Local 3282 members and friends,

It is with heavy hearts and great sadness that we must inform you Randy Cordero, President of AFSCME Local 3282 and great friend passed away this morning, January 14, 2014.


We will be holding an emergency meeting this Thursday at 6pm in the Roadrunner Room at the MOC to discuss further developments that impact both our members and loved ones.

Meeting At Dillion's

Originally posted Nov 13, 2013

This month's meeting on November 21st will be held at Dillion’s!

Located on 8706 W. Thunderbird Rd in the Banquet Room at 6pm 

Negotiations Update

Originally posted Sept 30, 2013

Negotiation began in January, 2013.  We submitted 25 proposals.

1.            The city to increase wages $2.50 for all covered employees

2.            All-time to be considered in those calculations of overtime, which includes holiday pay, comp-time, sick-time as time worked.

3.            Stand-by pay to be calculated at federal minimum wage level of $7.80 per hour.

4.            Out of class pay shall be paid whenever the full range of duties and responsibilities of higher classifications are met.

5.            Health and Dental insurance for AFSCME to audit and review benefited proposals using our own agent.

6.            The city to continue the health and dental plans for retirees to the same cost as unit personnel.

7.            Article 13 Wages; to reinstate each merit step increase to be equivalent to, two and one half percent (2.5%) step increase for a maximum of five percent (5%) and pay scale.

8.          Increase each shift differential pay scale.

9.            Increase personal leave

10.          Increase sick leave for anyone working 4/10 from 8 to 10 hours.

11.          To maintain seniority if rehired within 12 months.

12.          To cash out twice per year after 5 years of service maintain a minimum of 120 hours, (mirroring other bargaining units).

13.          Increase safety boot allowance to $300.00 a year.

14.          Cesar Chavez floating holiday to be recognized as a fixed holiday.

15.          Full-time pay for trainers.  Employees assigned as lead field training personnel will receive the regular rate plus 5% of their base pay for FTO Assignment pay, upon successful completion o f the certification requirement for FTO employees assigned as part-time FTO’s will receive their regular rate of pay plus 7.5% for hours worked in the FTO capacity.

16.          Increase shift differential pay and increase of ICMA contributions.

17.          Employees’ sick time payout for employees who have accumulated a minimum of 200 hours of sick time leave at the time of retirement should be allowed to cash it out at 100%.

18.          Employee shall be covered by the “WHISTLEBLOWER ACT”

19.          Certification pay will continue to be paid according to current department scales.

20.          Any change to job description will be allowed. At contract negotiations, employee has a right to get a cost adjustment for the increased work load.

21.          Vacations will not be able to be interrupted within 20 days by a more senior person

22.          Increase bilingual pay.

23.          Over-time rest period to be increased from 6 to 8 or 10 hours depending on work schedule.

24.          The City to supply winter wears annually.

25.          Formal grievance procedure will not include the city attorney unless it is the city manager’s decision to do this.



City accepted three of the 25.   They originally signed Tentative Agreements on 4 proposals.

11.          To maintain seniority if rehired within 12 months.

22.          Increase bilingual pay.

Bereavement Leave extended.   (Proposal we added later on in negotiations)

23.          Over-time rest period to be increased from 6 to 8 or 10 hours depending on work schedule


They signed a tentative agreement on additional Vacation time but at the very next meeting they took it back.

They also agreed to some of the language in the “Whistle blower “proposal, saying they would clean up the language for the next meeting.  At the next meeting they advised they were no longer interested in this proposal.


City offered 3.1/2 percent raise for employees who were not topped out and a lump sum of $850.00 one time payment to all employees not topped out but we didn’t accept that offer.  We fought for 7 months and City refused to give any movement.    They even brought in what they called a facilitator to the last couple of meetings before we declared Impasse.  During the beginning of negotiations we found out the COPPS (Police Sgt. Union) had been offered a bonus if they signed their contract first but didn’t offer this is any of the other unions.  COPPS is a union for management, funny how they got a sign on bonus but no one else did.


We served City Manager three Unfair Labor Practices:

1.  Continuing to harass an employee that had just won a grievance against the management for not paying her overtime.

2. COPPS were offered a bonus when no one else was given the same consideration?

3. Changing wording in our M.O.U without our permission.


Randy was pulled aside by a Council member who told him that the council had come to a positive agreement on the wage increase for AFSCME and they were just asking that there would be no problems.   We had the Chief of Police, Lieutenants and Sergeants monitoring our every move.  We believed the Councilman’s word and trusted him.  Unfortunately they still voted against us but what people don’t understand is that no matter what we did this was going to be the outcome.

Some people said Randy should have said more. Randy said more than enough as he was very respectful to Council and spoke in a professional manner.  The expectation was stereotypical on their part as perceiving that Union people are uneducated, uncouth and non professional. What President Cordero showed was respect, knowledge in which the City didn’t seem prepared. All union members attending presented themselves with dignity and pride!

We need to come together as one to be better preparing for the next time!  We have more and more people joining as they’re understand how important it is to get involved. We need to fight for our own wages, work conditions and get family and friends involved for the upcoming elections, which will take place the New Year. We have a say on the upcoming Mayor and Council election, so get involve and be heard. Positive results will come when you get involved!

We need you to support your union and your contract.

These three councilmen voted in our favor.

Acacia – Tony Rivero (Vice Mayor):  Office# 623-773-7538

Pine – Carlo Leone:  Office# 623-773-7538

Palo Verde – Ron Aames: Office# 623-773-7328



These four councilmen voted against us. 

Willow – Jon Edwards:  Office# (623) 773-7328

Mesquite – Cathy Carlat: Office# (623) 773-7306

Ironwood – Bill Patena: Office# (623)-773-5133

Mayor – Bob Barret: Office# (623)-773-7368

You all have a voice, talk to your friend and family and tell them how the same four voted for to give a failing business in the City of Peoria 350,000.00 to keep them in business,  the city already provides them the building and they just pay $1.00 a year to rent the building, the city also provides another $80,000.00 per year to maintain the grounds.  The Director of this business pays himself $80,000.00.   These Councilmen gave them free money but didn’t see anything wrong with allowing some of our members to continue to live at poverty level.  Some of us are making less money now than we did five years ago.  Do your family and friends want their taxes to be used in this manner?


The 5% raise they keep taking about that we got last year, well not all got that 5%, some only needed two cents before reaching the topped out level, add to that the rise in medical premiums rate of about 3.45% and another .40% increase for ASRS retirement and you actually got paid less money than the four-five years before.



Council votes 4-3 to reject employee union offer

By CAROLYN DRYER, Editor | Posted: Friday, September 20, 2013 1:41 pm

It was a packed house, with most of the seats taken by City of Peoria employees and friends who are members of AFSCME, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. They sat quietly and listened as Deputy City Manager Jeff Tyne explained the city’s position when it comes to employee raises.

Tyne explained the city’s financial position, saying revenues are slowly recovering, there has been a 15-percent budget reduction, and at the same time an attempt to avoid a burden on the workforce.

He said Peoria is above the benchmark when it comes to comparing its employee salaries with other cities and towns. Going forward, Tyne said, the city anticipates an annual growth of 3.2 percent. He said actual salaries of AFSCME employees are 6 percent over benchmark comparisons.

Council, after much debate and two failed amendments – one by Councilmember Ron Aames, one by Councilmember Carlo Leone – voted 4-3 to give AFSCME members a 3.5 percent raise this year and next year. The last offer from AFSCME, Tyne said, was $1.50 per hour for all members.

Tyne and Human Resources Director Julie Ayers made a PowerPoint presentation that broke down all of the numbers. They told council and audience members that the current average AFSCME salary is $45,880. Ayers said the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Statistics reported $23,497 annual salary is the poverty level for a family of four in 2012.

Vice Mayor Tony Rivero asked Ayers to talk about the process and asked why it took 18 sessions with the union. He also asked for clarification on how the 3.5 percent salary increase was reached.

Leone asked when negotiations began and ended, how many hours a day.

Chris Calcaterra, sports facilities manager for the city, who sat on the city staff negotiating team, told Leone they met 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each session, and some days until 4:30 p.m.

“Mornings, we reviewed notes and several lists every day,” Calcaterra said.

When Leone asked how many years AFSCME went without a pay raise when the economy went into a recession, he was told three years, and that in 2012, they received a 5-percent pay increase.

AFSCME Peoria President Randy Cordero said all the union was asking for was “a fair and equitable wage for everyone.”

He said percentages hurt quite a bit on the lower end. He mentioned a number of employees at the poverty level.

“If you continue to do that, they will never rise to that higher level,” he said. “Reward your loyal, good, long-standing employees.”

Councilmember Bill Patena said the city had a finite amount of money, and that “in many ways, we’re doing a balancing act.”

Patena calculated the raises given last year (5 percent), plus this year (3.5 percent), and next year (3.5 percent) and concluded they added up to 12 percent over three years. He noted both sides had “been at it now seven months and made no headway.” He made the motion for the 3.5 percent raise, and Councilmember Cathy Carlat seconded.

That is when the amendments were offered. Aames agreed with the union that 3.5 percent was unfair, and acknowledged the union’s desire to have a dollar amount increase instead of a percentage. He suggested for employees not topped out a 75-cent-per-hour increase with $850 over the course of a year instead of in a lump sum for those employees whose salaries were topped out.

Carlat said she felt that was a bad policy to put in place. The amendment failed 5-2, with Rivero joining Aames in favor.

Leone’s suggestion was also in dollars instead of percentages. He offered $1 per hour per person increase for two years, with $1,000 to employees whose salaries were topped out, plus back pay of $1,000 per year for two years.

Rivero commented that his first two years on council he “always made citizens my priority.”

He said he sympathized with the AFSCME employees, citing the fact that they were custodians, they picked up trash, and they don’t get noticed. He said at times, the council has supported theaters not in the best interest of citizens.

Leone said AFSCME employees have gone two or three years without getting a raise.

“They didn’t make any fuss,” Leone said. “They took it on the chin. What they have done for the city, we should do for them.”

Audience members clapped at his remarks, at which time, Mayor Bob Barrett harshly warned he did not want to empty council chambers.

Tyne said the cost to city for what the union (and Leone) is asking would be considerably more than $1 million of ongoing costs instead of $573,000 the first year.

Leone’s amendment also failed by a 5-2 vote, with Rivero joining Leone.

That brought the council back to the original motion, which passed 4-3, with Leone, Rivero and Aames the dissenting votes.

After the AFSCME members filed out of the council meeting, they gathered outside to discuss their situation.

AFSCME’s Cordero said the vote showed the council “has no respect for their city employees. It clearly shows customer satisfaction was not adhered to. They acted on management recommendations.”

He said the costs given by management was nowhere close to the true cost, saying it would not be $1 million; rather $880,000.

Cordero mentioned the $350,000 given to Theater Works to help in its operations, then called what management did during the meeting “a contrived effort to sit there and show disrespect for this union. They have no respect for their assets.”

“The $1 million-plus is an outright lie,” Cordero said. “They lied to council. These politicians that voted against us have no respect for us.”



Highest and lowest wages in city

By CAROLYN DRYER, Editor | Posted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013 12:47 pm

City council and AFSCME (American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees) representatives faced off Tuesday during a regular meeting after months of unsuccessful negotiations.

There were no threats of strikes; by law, the city employees are prohibited from going on strike. (Because the council meeting took place after this newspaper went to press, the report on the council meeting will be published in our Sept. 27 issue, and posted online by Sept. 20.)

In the meantime, Julie Ayers, human resources director for the City of Peoria, provided the following information concerning the lowest and highest range of pay for regular, benefited classifications.

The lowest range of the city’s regular, benefited classifications is AFSCME 310 ($22,110 to $29,736) and contains the position Recreation Specialist I. The city’s lowest full-time Recreation Specialist I earns $29,736. The lowest-paid full-time benefited employee with the city earns $27,667. This position is in a higher pay grade than listed in the pay range schedule, and is a custodian position, but lower in the assigned range.

The highest range of the city’s regular, benefited classifications is Executive Pay Plan D4 ($130,000 to $195,000) and contains the position Deputy City Manager. The highest paid Deputy City Manager earns $174,695. The City Manager, City Attorney and City Judge are under contract with the city council and are not assigned to pay ranges.

The city has a contingent “Misty Worker” at minimum wage who is the water drop mascot that attends environmental events.


June 4, 2013  Council Meeting Minutes -  Voting against Theatre Work

18R. Lease Agreement Amendment, Theater Works

Jeff Tyne, Deputy City Manager, presented an overview of a proposed amendment to

the lease agreement with Theater Works regarding the use of the Peoria Center for the

Performing Arts. Information included:

· History of the agreement with Theater Works

· Other theater arrangements in Central Arizona

· Recent discussions and activity

· Financial challenges facing Theater Works

Mr. Tyne noted that the Theater Works Board has requested $200,000 in one-time

funding to assist with current funding requirements and an additional $150,000 in onetime

funding to support their operations in Fiscal Year 2014.

City Council Meeting Minutes

June 4, 2013

Page 8 of 14

Mr. Tyne highlighted the City’s interests outlined in the proposed amended lease

agreement. Information included:

· Number of days for City access increased from 12 to 20

· Participation in City-affiliated events

· Three different performance series during the next 16 months

· Theater Works to promote defined events showcasing cultural diversity

· Periodic updates regarding the status of the Theater’s workplan, financial

condition and performance measures

· Continued support to special population groups

Discussion ensued regarding:

· Financial support to Theater Works to date

· Performance-based funding options

· Return on investment

John Buonagurio, Board Chairman of Theater Works, addressed Council and provided

a history of the organization. Mr. Buonagurio also discussed the financial challenges

Theater Works has experienced.

Dan Schay, Executive Director of Theater Works, addressed Council detailing

performances scheduled for the upcoming season.

Thom Gyder, spoke in support of Theater Works and the Peoria Center for the

Performing Arts.

Motion was made by Councilmember Carlat, seconded by Councilmember Carlat, to

approve an amended lease agreement with Theater Works regarding Fiscal Year 2014

funding, terms for facility maintenance and programming opportunities.

Upon vote, the motion failed 4 to 3, with Vice Mayor Rivero, Councilmembers Aames,

Edwards and Leone voting “no”.


City Manager  and Mr. Tyne put this back on the Agenda for another vote for the very next  Council Meeting and this time it was passed by one vote.  Ask yourself why City Manager and Mr. Tyne worked so hard to pass this when the employees who actually contribute to the City only deserve 3.5% or a on time lump sum of $850.00 for loyalty, hard work and dedication . 




New Business:

23R. Reconsideration of Lease Agreement Amendment, Theater Works

Mayor Barrett explained that the agenda item requesting approval of an amended lease

agreement with Theater Works failed at the June 4, 2013, City Council Meeting; and

only those members of Council who were on the prevailing side may make a motion for


Motion was made by Councilmember Edwards, seconded by Councilmember Patena, to

reconsider City Council action taken on Agenda Item 18R on June 4, 2013.

Upon vote, the motion carried 4 to 3 with Vice Mayor Rivero, Councilmember Aames

and Councilmember Leone voting “no”.

Jeff Tyne, Deputy City Manager, recapped the history of the agreement and recent

discussions with Theater Works’ leadership. Mr. Tyne reported that the Theater Works

Board requested $200,000 in one-time funding to assist with current funding

requirements and an additional $150,000 in one-time funding to support their operations

in Fiscal Year 2014. Mr. Tyne reviewed the terms and conditions contained in the

proposed amendment to the lease agreement. Information included:

· Number of days for City access increased from 12 to 20

· Participation in seven City-affiliated events

· Three different performance series during the next 16 months

· Theater Works to promote defined events showcasing cultural diversity

City Council Meeting Minutes

June 18, 2013

Page 9 of 15

· Periodic updates regarding the status of the Theater’s workplan, financial

condition and key performance measures

· Continued support for programs related to youth, seniors and the

developmentally disabled

Motion was made by Councilmember Edwards, seconded by Councilmember Patena, to

approve the proposed amended lease agreement with Theater Works, provide

$200,000 in one-time funding immediately and $150,000 in Fiscal Year 2014 subject to

reviews being conducted by staff and brought to Council in October 2013 for the release

of the additional funds.

Councilmember Leone amended the motion to have the City assume responsibility for

the building and maintenance of the facility, including the utilities, estimated at $140,000

per year; provide one-time funding in the amount of $160,000 to allow Theater Works to

pay off its current credit line and utility bill; Theater Works would not request additional

funding from the City in the future; and the number of days for City access to the facility

be increased from 12 to 20. The amended motion was seconded by Vice Mayor Rivero.

Upon vote, the amended motion failed 6 to 1 with Mayor Barrett, Vice Mayor Rivero,

Councilmember Aames, Councilmember Carlat, Councilmember Edwards and

Councilmember Patena voting “no”.

Discussion ensued regarding taxpayers’ monetary support of Theater Works since its

inception in 2006 and Theater Works’ obligation to market itself.

Councilmember Aames amended the motion to approve the proposed amended lease

agreement with Theater Works; provide $200,000 in one-time funding immediately; City

staff to conduct a review of Theater Works’ operations in December 2013; a request for

$150,000 in Fiscal Year 2014 to be submitted to Council for approval, if needed, based

on the reviews conducted by staff in December if Theater Works demonstrates selfsufficiency;

and City staff to recommend an alternative plan to the Council in the event it

is determined the theater cannot demonstrate self-sufficiency.

The amended motion died for lack of a second.

Upon vote, the main motion to approve the proposed amended lease agreement with

Theater Works, provide $200,000 in one-time funding immediately and $150,000 in

Fiscal Year 2014 subject to reviews being conducted by staff and brought to Council in

October 2013 for the release of the additional funds carried 5 to 2 with Vice Mayor

Rivero and Councilmember Leone voting “no”.


Clerk’s Note: Councilmember Aames abstained from voting. In accordance with

Article II, Section 18, of the Peoria City Charter, should the mayor or

councilmember fail to vote, his vote shall be counted with the majority vote on the



Second chance vote successful for Theater Works

By CAROLYN DRYER | Posted: Friday, June 21, 2013 3:30 am

A review would not label Tuesday night’s encore presentation of Theater Works’ request for funds a “smash hit.” But, the curtain did not come down for the last time, giving the local community theater company some breathing room, or at least by some observers, a chance for the struggling organization to become self-sufficient.

After Mayor Bob Barrett explained the process of reconsideration of the agenda item that was voted down last week, Councilmember Jon Edwards made a motion to reconsider the Theater Works request for funds. Discussion was short, and the vote was taken to reconsider with Edwards, Councilmembers Bill Patena and Cathy Carlat, and Mayor Barrett voting yes, while Vice Mayor Tony Rivero and Councilmembers Ron Aames and Carlo Leone voted no. The next step was to vote on the lease agreement with Theater Works again.

Deputy City Manager Jeff Tyne gave a history of the agreement, citing Theater Works as the master tenant responsible for all utilities and upkeep, with the city paying $80,000 per year for maintenance. Theater Works has requested a one-time $200,000 payment from the city immediately, plus an additional $150,000 after July 1. Tyne mentioned the discussion by Edwards and Patena that they would like to see the $150,000 held back until after a review of the theater company’s finances and programming.

Tyne said part of the stipulation should be Theater Works submit for review its approved board meeting minutes.

The staff recommendation this time around was to give Theater Works $200,000 immediately with $150,000 available in fiscal year 2013-2014 following a review of programming, approved minutes and other improvements to its operation.

When Edwards asked about a timeframe for review, Tyne said it would be bi-monthly, beginning in September, when city staff would meet with Theater Works leadership, then report to council in October. Edwards asked if there would be council option on the $150,000 if Theater Works did not live up to benchmarks, and Tyne responded in the affirmative. At that time, Edwards made a motion to approve the staff recommendation.

More discussion followed, with Rivero emphasizing his and council’s support of the theater. But he argued that the 20-year lease in place charges Theater Works just $1 per year while taxpayers pay $85,000 a year for maintenance, and paid $346,000 in 2008. When the 20 years is up, he said taxpayers will have paid anywhere from $750,000 to $800,000 for the theater to operate.

“The city does support the theater with district funds,” Rivero said. “The question is, is the business model sustainable?”

He said the answer was that it was not sustainable and staff has said more money is needed. He said what was being presented was short-term when what was needed was a long-term solution. Rivero said the downtown has needed revitalization for years, and Theater Works was supposed to help that, but that since 2006, when it opened, the downtown is still suffering.

“At a time when citizens are suffering, this is not the right approach,” Rivero said.

Councilmembers Leone and Aames each presented amendments to Edwards’ motion, but both were turned down by council votes.

Leone proposed the city give Theater Works a break by paying all the utilities and maintenance yearly, which total about $140,000, plus give the theater company $150,000 now to pay off its credit line with Wells Fargo, plus $10,000 to pay its current utility bill.

“I also want to make sure Theater Works doesn’t come back to the city for more money,” Leone said.

With Leone’s amendment, at the end of 14 years, the city would end up paying $2.020 million.

Aames’ proposal was $200,000 down with a December review of Theater Works’ operation, but have the city staff come up with a Plan B if a review shows the theater company cannot demonstrate self-sufficiency. He said if the council becomes aware Theater Works cannot achieve self-sufficiency, there would be no additional funds. But he said if it is self-sufficient, it did not need the funds. This motion died for lack of a second.

Following that, Patena said in his talks with people following the publicity about Theater Works’ predicament, response was “overwhelmingly positive.”

He asked why, with the rehabilitation of Wagoner Plaza I and II, the city would want to close the theater. He said the city has an obligation to taxpayers to demonstrate good stewardship of tax dollars. But, he said Theater Works also has an obligation to market itself, be more diverse and take its shows on the road to schools.

Patena looked around council chambers and said, “It is also the responsibility to citizens to support Theater Works. This is not a district issue, it’s a city issue.”

Rivero said he wanted to “respectfully respond” to Patena, emphasizing he was not advocating for the theater to go dark.

“My goal is to have a sustainable theater, whether Theater Works or someone else,” Rivero said.

After that statement, the vote was taken, with a 4-3 approval. Aames abstained, Rivero and Leone voted no.

Theater Works issued a statement June 19, thanking the council for its support. Executive director Daniel Schay said the theater company has continued to operate by not raising tickets prices for its patrons, which resulted in it going “into the red.”

“We have continued to be a performing arts hub for the community and provide the same opportunities to our fellow Peorians,” Schay said. “With the help of the city, we can recover financially and expand our service to Peoria.”

For more information about Theater Works, call the box office at 623-815-7930, or visit



City rejects AZ Broadway Theatre offer

By CAROLYN DRYER, Editor | Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013 12:00 am

It was a packed, standing-room-only crowd at Tuesday’s city council meeting, the majority of which were present to support Arizona Broadway Theatre. On the agenda was a discussion of ABT’s ground lease agreement with the city, which owns the land where the theater is built.

The arrangement began in 2003, when ABT signed an agreement to pay 48 cents a square foot, with the total of $2.4 million scheduled over the term of the lease. In 2007, an amended agreement was signed, and there have been four subsequent amendments since then, the last one in March 2012. The current agreement ended with ABT paying no rent through March. The original land lease terms had ABT paying $6,000 per month for 25 years.

At Tuesday’s meeting, options going forward were discussed, including an option for a path to ownership for ABT. This would involve the city selling the land to KLOS, the investment partner of ABT.

Deputy City Manager Jeff Tyne said at this point, city staff is going ahead with the current agreement.

ABT CEO Kiel Laphake gave a breakdown of the theater and its vision. He said KLOS is the financer of the theater, and that no taxpayer dollars were used in the construction of the theater (Klaphake, his wife Cassandra, and his parents are the owners of KLOS). He said ABT was a nonprofit that has a vision for the future. Klaphake also said ABT not only represented a contributor to the arts for the city, and a meeting place, but was also an economic generator for the city.

Klaphake said he wanted to clarify some misconceptions, that ABT was not asking taxpayers to give anything away.

“We’re simply asking to operate as we have without further impediments,” he said. “My board wants control. KLOS wants to pay off its debts and get out of town. The city wants us all to succeed.”

He said ABT wants a path to ownership, and KLOS is willing to sell the building to ABT below market value, and that a sale was definitely in the realm of possibility. He asked council to keep the current lease in place while ABT and KLOS worked out a sales agreement.

“My job as custodian of this theater is to do what is best for this community,” Klaphake said. “The work we do is valuable.”

A member of the ABT board of directors told council ABT was “unquestionably the finest theater in Arizona.”

Another ABT supporter voiced concerns about children’s programs going away, and he wanted to keep the theater’s “strong artistic” presence in the community.

Cassandra Klaphake, artistic director and co-owner of ABT, said she and her husband came to Peoria 12 years ago to raise a family, and they now have a loyal family of 200 dedicated volunteers and 1,500 subscribers.

“They are my family, and we are Peoria,” she said.

She, too, asked for support from the council for the ABT’s proposal.

All of the calls for support, however, did not influence council’s final decision.

Although she said, “I am very proud of what ABT has brought to Peoria,” Councilmember Cathy Carlat added, “but we are not talking simply about heart.”

She said council must address business, city needs, taxpayer dollars, and obligations.

“While the ABT is stealing our heart away, there are for-profit investors making money” while there is a deficiency, Carlat said. “That’s where I have trouble moving forward. We have shown a lot of good faith. There’s a group of investors (KLOS). We don’t know what they’re paid. So, I don’t have enough information to make a decision.”

Councilmember Bill Patena said, “There’s more than just entertainment here. We have citizens who may not be as passionate about the arts as you are. The city simply said the proposal before us was not good enough. Nobody wants to see ABT go.”

Councilmember Ron Aames was not as kind.

He said, “There are other entities. We can’t have everybody coming here and saying, ‘bail us out.’ We haven’t seen anything from KLOS, a private entity. The offer brought to us was a very poor offer.”

Vice Mayor Tony Rivero, who said he had worked with ABT the last two years, said the city was very large, and there are “not a lot of residents I represent who go to ABT. But I’m open to a middle ground approach protecting citizens.”

Councilmember Jon Edwards said, “I’m in favor of the arts as well. What we need to do is work out an agreement.”

But Edwards, too, wanted more information.

Councilmember Carlo Leone said he was a season-ticket holder eight years, but also wanted more information.

Mayor Bob Barrett said the city has “kicked the can down the road” by not collecting rent. But, he said they also need to consider ABT employs 350 people and collects sales taxes. Saying he understands the West Valley and City of Peoria does not want ABT to close its doors, he suggested the theater start paying $1,000 per month rent and open the books to the city. He said the commercial piece, KLOS, should be out of ABT.

Aames said $1,000 a month was not acceptable. He wanted “noticeably more than that,” and also noted he has not seen full disclosure.

Carlat agreed with Barrett on removing KLOS from the picture.

Edwards made a motion to require ABT to pay $2,000 per month for a six-month period to allow for continued negotiations for a contract, and have city staff take a look at it.

Aames objected to the $2,000 figure, citing the Challenger Center’s request for financial help and did not get a penny from the city.

But, the majority of council approved the $2,000 figure by a 4-3 vote, with Aames, Leone and Rivero dissenting.


Peoria Center for the Performing Arts

In 2007 the city of Peoria completed construction of the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts. Designed by the architectural firm Westlake Reed Leskosky, this $13 million facility is the cornerstone of a five year downtown revitalization project that will eventually bring retail, residential and business additions to our downtown.

The Peoria Center for the Performing Arts is a joint venture with the city of Peoria and Theater Works. Through a 20 year lease agreement, Theater Works will serve as the anchor tenant and operate the 20,000 square foot building. The Peoria Center for the Arts consists of a 280 seat main stage auditorium, an 80+ seat black box theater, classrooms, elegant lobby, dressing rooms, backstage support areas and office space for Theater Works.

Understanding the importance of arts on economic impact and development, the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts will bring not only award winning community theater to the downtown area, but also kids programming with summer camps, a traveling “Youth Readers Theater” program and special events throughout the year. Ongoing tours are also available of the facility on a monthly basis.

For more information on Theater Works, as well as shows, programming, special events and tours at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts go to or call the Box Office at (623) 815-7930.

Peoria Center for the Performing Arts
8355 West Peoria Avenue
Peoria, Arizona 85345

The Middle Class Does Better In States With Lots Of Union Members

Originally posted Sept 24, 2013


The middle class brings home a substantially larger share of aggregate earnings in states that have high rates of union membership than in those where fewer workers are organized, a Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF) analysis of Census data shows. Amid very high and still increasingincome inequality, union density appears to offer some buffer for middle-class Americans.

By comparing the share of total income that went to the middle 60 percent of the population in each state to the level of union membership in each state, CAPAF’s David Madland and Keith Miller found that the states with the lowest rates of union membership return below-average shares of income to their middle-class residents. The income figures come from new Census data, and the union density figures come from In the ten most-unionized states, the middle class brought home 47.4 percent of total income. In the ten least-unionized states, that income share falls to 46.8 percent.

Given the size of the state income figures at play here, that 0.6 percentage point gap translates to billions of dollars. Madland and Miller note that in Pennsylvania, 0.6 percent of aggregate income for 2012 “would have equaled over $2 billion, or almost $700 per middle-class household.”

The finding shouldn’t surprise anyone. The rise of inequality over the past three decades tracks closely with the decline of union membership. Stronger unions mean stronger advocacy for policies that support workers, not just on the job but with regard to fiscal policy decisions that help set the path for what level of income inequality there will be.

Income inequality has intensified since the Great Recession officially ended in the summer of 2009. Rich people have captured an increasingly large share of the country’s income over the past three years, and everyone else’s piece of the pie has gotten smaller. While the official poverty rate has held steady since jumping up above 15 percent during the recession, other measures paint a bleaker picture. Nearly half the country is economically insecure, and one in seven American families cannot consistently put enough food on their tables.

City Of Peoria Politics Wins Over Equality

Originally posted Sept 20, 2013

Last night the Peoria City Council supported the Mayor’s and City Manager’s Petty Politics over the needs of the City Employees to rise out of poverty wages.


The City Council voted in support of Managements plan to give to the haves at the expense of the needy.


AFSCME has consistently stated that all employees in the bargaining unit must receive an equal hourly rate increase of $1.00 an hour. Percentage raises are unfair to the working employees of Peoria. It rewards the well off at the expense of those who work for wages below the poverty level.




August 11, 2013, AFSCME declared an Impasse. We advised management that a dispute still existed with the City on wages in our negotiations on the FY2014-FY2015 MOU between AFSCME Local 3282 and the City of Peoria. We requested that the City of Peoria move forward with the impasse process.


The negotiations have been hostile from the beginning. We have expressed our lack of confidence in the Management Team. We have been deceived in the negotiations.


City of Peoria management has stated that they received directions from the City Council. We requested documentation to prove, if the City Council has taken positions by majority vote, that they please provide us with the appropriate documents that show these directions. This did not happen. We believe that the laws governing Open Meetings and Executive Sessions have been violated.


Since the City Council had the final authority to remedy this inequality, we appealed to the City Council to correct this injustice and treat all City of Peoria employees fairly. It is unfair to enrich some and economically suppress others. We asked Peoria to be just too all city employees, not just the favored few. We looked to the City Council to put aside favoritism and support equality.


Yesterday the Peoria City Council turned its back on the working poor city employees and voted for political favoritism and insensitive politics as usual. 


Roman Ulman
Executive Director
AFSCME Arizona PEOPLE Conference


Labor Update

Originally posted Sept 14, 2013




AFSCME’s Labor Update

After months of meeting with the City and most of our proposals being rejected we reached a dead lock.  The City then withdrew a negotiator and was replaced with the Deputy City Manager then provided a facilitator towards the end of negotiations which we felt was working as a mediator on the city’s behalf and did not assist in reaching a mutual agreement.

We refused the offer of mediation due to its high cost and non-binding results which would mean that once an agreement is reached, its result could still be declined by City Council.  We chose to go directly to City Council to plead our case.

City Council makes the ultimate choice on what our raises will be, so we need everyone to attend the Council meeting on September 17, at 6:00pm. It is crucial for you to attend and show that you support what your team has been fighting for. This is your chance to fight for yourself, your family and your co-workers.

City’s last offer of 3.5 percent raise or $850.00 dollar one lump sum for topped out employees would not contribute to a fair livable wage. We believe percentages are unfair and everyone should receive the same amount.  Our final counter offer was for a $1.50 an hour raise for all AFSCME covered employees and that the pay should be retroactive.  City advised that they have the ability to pay but are not interested in doing so.

AFSCME was the first to volunteer to work with the City during the economic hardship by agreeing to forgo raises until a later date. We took on more duties to combined job classifications.  We invented new methods of performing duties in order to help the City save money.  This prevented layoffs and furloughs.  Even though the City diminished some of its resources (employees) we were able to obtain the highest Customer Service ratings we’ve received by our citizens.  Outside research groups that have done studies have shown that Peoria is the highest rated throughout the country.

We recognize that we have the best employees but to continue to expect us to live below fair living wages is unacceptable.



We Need Your Help!

Originally posted Sept 05, 2013

Let your voices be heard at the next counsel meeting on Tuesday September 17 at 6 p.m.

Peoria Council Chambers
8401 W Monroe St
Peoria, AZ 85345.

We need for people to show up and tell your counsel representative how you feel about these recent contract negotiations.

Inequality For All

Originally posted Aug 29, 2013

Inequality for All poster.png

A passionate argument on behalf of the middle class, Inequality for All features Robert Reich, professor, best-selling author, and Clinton cabinet member, as he demonstrates how the widening income gap has a devastating impact on the American economy. The film is an intimate portrait of a man who’s overcome a great deal of personal adversity and whose lifelong goal remains protecting those who are unable to protect themselves. Through his singular perspective, Robert Reich explains how the massive consolidation of wealth by a precious few threatens the viability of the American workforce and the foundation of democracy itself. Reichuses humor and a wide array of facts to explain how the issue of economic inequality affects each and every one of us. Check out the first trailer

Watch the trailer HERE!


Originally posted Aug 08, 2013

The City of Peoria has not negotiated in good faith.

We are not willing to accept any less for our members than what the City is giving other employees.

We need all members to attend our monthly meeting this Thursday August 15 at 6:00 p.m. in the Roadrunner Room at the MOC for a full report.

YOU can help!

Contact your Counsel Member and express to them your displeasure with these negotiations.

Your Union AFSCME Local 3282 has negotiated in good faith and has made multiple concessions with the City of Peoria’s Management Negotiating team.

We moved from our initial proposal:

2.50 to all represented employees. Then...

2.50 to all represented employees and a  one time payment to topped out. Then... 

1.50 to all represented employees. Then...

1.50 to all represented employees and a  one time payment out to topped out.  We Then...

entertained a mixture of percentages across multiple years, but that would not “make us whole” after multiple years with out a pay raise and rising cost of living. Your AFSCME 3282 gave multiple examples and provided multiple credible reports stating that the City of Peoria is no longer in a Financial Crisis.

From day one they offered 3.5 across a variety of years.

Peoria City Council

Acacia – Tony Rivero (Vice Mayor): Office 623-773-7538

Pine – Carlo Leone: Office 623-773-7538

Palo Verde – Ron Aames: Office 623-773-7328

Willow – Jon Edwards: Office (623) 773-7328

Mesquite – Cathy Carlat: Office (623) 773-7306

Ironwood – Bill Patena: Office (623)-773-5133

Mayor – Bob Barret: Office (623)-773-7368

Raises In Store For Some Peoria City Workers

Originally posted Jul 15, 2013

By Jackee Coe
The Republic | Mon
Jul 1, 2013 9:48 AM

Many Peoria employees will get raises for the second year in a row, but police officers, firefighters and other union employees still are negotiating their salaries for the coming years.

All non-represented employees will receive a 3.5 percent raise, though the increase cannot push those at or near the top of their pay grade over the maximum, Human Resources Director Julie Ayers said. Police sergeants in the City of Peoria Police Supervisors Association also will receive an average of a 3.5 percent performance-based pay increase.

>> Metro Phoenix workers may see big pay increases

Last year, employees received 5 percent merit raises at the start of the fiscal year, except those who already were at the top of their pay grade and instead received an $850 lump-sum payment. It was the first year raises were given since the city implemented a pay freeze in fiscal 2010.

Mayor Bob Barrett said the fact that Peoria is giving raises for a second straight year indicates the city is doing “reasonably well” financially.

“We’ve managed our money very well,” he said. “It’s careful money management, and with careful money management, we are at the point now where we can give raises and I’m very proud of that, personally.”

But Barrett warned that doesn’t mean everybody is “coming out of the economic doldrums” just yet. The economy is recovering, he said, but slowly. He said while Peoria is able to give its employees raises, there still are many amenities, such as new parks, that residents should not expect to see in the near future.

Peoria stands in contrast to neighboring Glendale, which still has not bounced back enough from the recession to offer raises to non-union employees. However, many cities are beginning to bring them back, including Surprise and Buckeye, which will give as much as 14 percent this coming year.

“Investing in our employees is a wise thing to do,” Barrett said. “They have been doing wonderful stuff.”

The non-represented employees make up about 35 percent of the city’s 1,100 total full-time employees. There are 147 police officers in the Peoria Police Officers Association, 135 firefighters in the Peoria Firefighters Association, 413 employees in the American Federation of State County Municipal Employees, and 26 in the sergeants group.

The memorandums of understanding with each union expire at the end of this month, and representatives have been negotiating with city officials for several months.

The sergeants group reached a deal that was approved by the City Council in April. The four-year agreement maintains the existing salary step program, which averages about 3.5 percent increases, and performance-based pay for those at the top of their pay range.

The contract also included an up-front payment of $1,000 to each member for being the first union to reach a deal, and a $1,500 one-time payment in the fourth year. The second payment is an acknowledgment of the group agreeing to a four-year term, the first under a revised city ordinance, Ayers said.

The four-year agreement with the small group of sergeants will cost $137,023 in ongoing costs, as well as $168,247 in one-time payments.

City ordinance prohibits officials from discussing the labor negotiations while they are in progress.

Firefighters and police officers showed up in force to last week’s council meeting when council members voted to provide $350,000 in aid to the struggling Theater Works organization that operates in the city-owned Peoria Center for the Performing Arts.

Michael Williams, who represents the police officers association, said council members and city officials should remember they still have incomplete labor negotiations with the police officers and firefighters and not to neglect their duty to properly compensate public safety while funding other services like the arts.

“You have a duty to provide for the public safety, and I hope as you’re approving these extra expenditures, you will consider the fact we still have two contracts out there that have not been resolved and they need to be resolved,” Williams told the council. “Public safety is more important than all the other things that you all provide.”

David Leibowitz, a spokesman for the Peoria Firefighters Association, said the labor negotiations with firefighters are not going well.

‘Creative’ compensation

While non-represented employees endured a pay freeze between fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2012, Peoria was “creative” in working out agreements with the unions who were under their contracts, Human Resources Director Julie Ayers said.

The Peoria Firefighters Association was the only group to get a raise in fiscal 2010 at 5 percent, but it was funded by a reduction in their uniform allowance, adjustments to vacation time and reduced contributions to a deferred compensation plan.

Nobody received raises or any payments the following year. But in fiscal 2012, members of all four groups got variations of lump-sum payments that totaled between $850 and $900. The non-represented employees, excluding managers and directors, were given three floating holidays that year.

“What makes Peoria stand out is they went through the downturn without doing work furloughs and without doing layoffs and wage reductions, which you see in a lot of other communities in the state,” Ayers said. “It wasn’t cookie cutter. They really did try to customize and meet the needs of everyone coming through the recession.”

Metro Phoenix Workers May See Big Pay Raises

Originally posted Jul 15, 2013

By John Yantis
The Republic | azcentral.comThu
Jun 20, 2013 10:03 AM


After years without annual pay increases during the recession, some cities and towns are rewarding employees quite handsomely.

Longtime Buckeye workers are poised to get the biggest bump in pay, with their checks increasing by as much as 14 percent under a budget proposal. While proposed raises for workers in other Valley cities and the county aren’t as high, they range from about 2.5 percent in Goodyear to 5 percent for Maricopa County.

The government raises are much larger than what private-sector workers are receiving this year, experts say. While some firms have given raises, many businesses have continued to postpone wage hikes until the economy is stronger, or they have given workers one-time bonuses.

City leaders say the raises are worth it to retain employees who are trained and took on extra job duties during the recession when cities cut workers.

“I completely understand where somebody outside the town would say that (14 percent) seems like a lot, but the employees over the last four years have really sacrificed and have not received pay increases,” Buckeye Councilman Eric Orsborn said.

Like many government entities, Buckeye gives workers two kinds of pay increases. Step increases are merit raises for employees who have moved to the next step on the town’s pay ladder. In Buckeye, a step increase is typically 5 percent.

The increases are given to workers based on performance and time worked. Employees also receive cost-of-living increases, which are smaller and range from 2 to 4 percent.

The fiscal 2014 budget plan for Buckeye contains $3 million to retain employees who have not seen increases in salary steps for five years.

News of the raise comes after employees received a 2.5 percent cost-of-living increase last year. Also last year, the council restored 18-month pay reductions of between 5 and 15 percent that employees were asked to take during the recession.

Buckeye proposal

Under Buckeye’s current proposal, those hired before July 1, 2009, would see a two-step merit increase, which is 10 percent. Those hired before July 1, 2010, would receive a one-step merit increase, or 5 percent.

Employees also would see a 4 percent cost-of-living raise. That number could decrease to 2.75 percent when the council votes on the budget this week, officials said.

Buckeye employees also would be eligible for an additional 5 percent increase on their anniversary date beginning in July unless the employee is already at the top of the salary range.

Because final pay decisions have not been made, it was unknown how many of Buckeye’s employees will receive the largest pay raise, said Nancy Love, human-resources director. The town has 392 full-time equivalent positions.

Other cities

Buckeye employees aren’t the only government workers who expect to see larger paychecks this year:

Maricopa County, one of the Valley’s largest employers, is bringing raises back for the first time in almost six years. Aside from one-time bonuses last year around the holidays, there’s been a freeze on cost-of-living allowances.

County workers will see increases of up to 5 percent. The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has set aside $58 million in merit-based raises, market adjustments and money to fix salary discrepancies.

Paradise Valley employees will receive merit-based pay increases in the coming year for the first time since fiscal 2009. The increase will represent 3 percent of current year salaries and benefits. They will not get cost-of-living raises. Pay increases will start appearing in many town workers’ paychecks on July 1.

Workers in some Valley cities fared better during the economic downturn. Some cities resumed giving employees raises last year, while others continued to receive pay hikes during the recession.

Phoenix leaders last year approved new employee contracts that brought back half of a 3.2 percent pay and benefit cut that workers took in 2010 when the city faced a general-fund deficit.

The rest won’t be restored until a series of budget goals have been met, including the city meeting revenue targets.

Although all Phoenix workers took a pay cut, the vast majority received merit pay and longevity bonuses throughout the recession. The increases average to 4.8 percent per year.

Public vs. private sector

Larger companies and municipalities feel more confident in giving employee raises, because there are pockets of significant growth and development around the United States, including the Phoenix area, said Michael Seaver, of Seaver Consulting LLC of Phoenix.

“In order to keep talent, or attract really talented folks, they’ve got to find not only wage increases but alternative compensation methods, whether it’s extra benefits and bonuses or flexible schedules that are really going to attract and keep the younger generation,” Seaver said.

Yet, in the private sector, many business owners are still nervous about the economy and are not giving employees wage increases, said Camille French, western region vice president of Tilson HR, a company that handles employee administrative functions for business owners.

“What I see a lot of my clients doing is giving bonuses,” she said, adding that most are between 4 and 5 percent and are meant so companies don’t have to burden their annual ongoing labor costs.

Some employees in private business can expect pay increases of about 3 percent annually, said Seaver,who teaches entrepreneurship and human-resources classes at Grand Canyon University.

Wage increases and money for employee training and development virtually dried up during the recession except for in a few select companies and industries, Seaver said.

“A lot of the focus ended up shifting back onto the individual to find other methods of income but also foster their own growth and development without the company’s help,” Seaver said.

Republic reporters Gary Nelson, Dustin Gardiner, Jackee Coe, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Philip Haldiman, Beth Duckett and Michelle Mitchell contributed to this article.

Now They Want To Take Away The 8-Hour Day And 40-Hour Week

Originally posted May 12, 2013

Tuesday, 07 May 2013 15:13  By Dave JohnsonTruthout | News

Members of the House leave Capitol Hill to begin a two-week recess in Washington, March 21, 2013. (Photo: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

Members of the House leave Capitol Hill to begin a two-week recess in Washington, March 21, 2013.
(Photo: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

Members of the House leave Capitol Hill to begin a two-week recess in Washington, March 21, 2013. (Photo: Stephen Crowley / The New York Times)Republicans are trying to pass an “alternative” to overtime pay. This is really about taking away the eight-hour workday and 40-hour workweek. Will weekends be next? What about an “alternative” to paying workers at all?

House Republicans are pushing a bill that takes away extra pay for overtime, substituting “comp” time instead. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 is the law that brought us the eight-hour workday and the 40-hour workweek. This law does not prohibit employers from requiring workers to work over 40 hours. Instead, it gives employers an incentive to instead pay extra or hire more people, and gives employees a premium if they do have to work longer. (Note that this is also the law that brought us a minimum wage and outlawed child labor.)

There is proof that overtime pay works: workers like domestic workers and agricultural workers – jobs not covered by the FLSA – are twice as likely to have to work more than 40 hours in a week. And even with this law, Americans already work more hours than in almost any other industrialized country.

The Bill – No Guarantees

The House will be voting on H.R. 1406, The Working Families Flexibility Act, which lets employers offer “comp time” instead of overtime pay. The problem is that employers will pressure workers to take comp time instead of overtime, which reduces paychecks and gets rid of the incentive to hire more people. Later, the employees will be pressured to not take that comp time, or will have to be “on call,” etcetera.

It is important to note that the law does not guarantee workers the right to actually use the comp time they get instead of extra pay. Employers can put it off forever. You can’t use this time when you want to, only when the employer decides it is okay.

This really is a flat-out pay take-away, can’t use it another day.

Eileen Appelbaum of the Center for Economic and Policy Research drives this point home in her article “Working Families Flexibility Act: Not Good for Working Parents and Bad for the Economy,” on The Huffington Post:

Employees cannot just take comp time when they need it. Rather, the bill lets an employer who receives a request for comp time decide when the employee gets to take it. The employer can even refuse the request and defer it to a later time if, in the employer’s view, letting the employee take comp time will “unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.”

Overtime Helps the Economy

We have a jobs emergency and Republicans are trying to get rid of one of the laws that causes employers to hire more people. Go figure. When employers require workers to work more than eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week, they have to pay more than the regular wage for that extra time. This is a strong incentive to hire more people instead.

And when they don’t hire more people, they pay a premium, which means regular people have more money to spend. Either way, it helps the economy. And of course, it really, really helps those workers.

Last year, USA Today took a look at overtime pay and found that productivity was rising, but as a result of squeezing workers for more hours. But employers were calling these workers “managers” to get out of paying overtime – and to get out of hiring more people.

The National Partnership for Women and Families has a fact sheet titled, “An Empty Promise: The Working Families Flexibility Act Would Give Workers Less Flexibility and Less Pay.” It begins:

Despite its name, the Cantor/Roby Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 sets up a dangerous false choice between time and money, when working families really need both. The bill does not promote family friendly or flexible workplaces. Instead, it would erode hourly workers’ ability to make ends meet, plan for family time and have predictability, stability and true flexibility at work.

People Died to Get Overtime Pay

Leo Gerard points out that people died to get a 40-hour week, writing at Campaign for America’s Future in “GOP Forcibly Making Working Families Flexible“: “Trade unionists and labor rights activists died to achieve the goal of eight-hour days and 40-hour weeks. They were shot and beaten in the streets during demonstrations organized by the eight-hour movement. Their slogan was: “Eight hours for work; eight hours for rest; eight hours for what we will.”

Veto Threat

President Obama issued a statement saying he will veto this bill if it is sent to him. The statement explains that this bill “undermines the existing right to hard-earned overtime pay, on which many working families rely to make ends meet, while misrepresenting itself as a workplace flexibility measure that gives power to employees over their own schedules.”

If Congress wants to help working people and their families, they should instead raise the minimum wage, fund enforcement of laws against wage theft and other employer pay-stealing scams, and make it easier to join unions. That would show that they mean it. Taking away the 40-hour work week and giving it a nice-sounding name like Working Family Flexibility just does not cut it.

New Report Exposes Extreme ALEC Agenda In Arizona

Originally posted Apr 05, 2013

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Seventeen bills introduced in the Arizona legislature in 2013 can be tied to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and every member of the Republican leadership in the state are current or recent ALEC members, according to a new report from the Center for Media and Democracy and its allies “ALEC in Arizona: The Voice Of Corporate Special Interests In The Halls Of Arizona’s Legislature.”

“ALEC is a secretive but powerful force in Arizona politics,” said Lisa Graves, CMD’s Executive Director. “This report exposes how corporations and Arizona legislators, have worked together to keep citizens in the dark about ALEC’s extreme agenda.”

“ALEC in Arizona” identifies seventeen bills introduced in the 2013 session that appear to reflect ALEC model legislation. These bills would defund Arizona’s public school system (SB 1409 and HB 2617), eliminate collective bargaining rights (HB 2330), undermine the Affordable Care Act (HB 2588) and make it more difficult for Arizonans to sue corporations using class action lawsuits (SB 1452).

ALEC, the Goldwater Institute and Americans For Prosperity

The report documents how the Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, along with David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity Arizona (AFP-Arizona), are working to support the ALEC agenda in Arizona. Both Goldwater and Americans for Prosperity are members of ALEC.

This session, six ALEC members, including Arizona state chair Debbie Lesko, co-sponsored HB 2588, which would undermine reforms from the Affordable Care Act. The language is nearly identical to the ALEC “Health Freedom Compact Act,” which was sponsored as a 2011 ALEC bill by Goldwater’s Nick Dranias. Goldwater then created a 2013 video ad opposing the creation of an Arizona health insurance exchange, while AFP-Arizona list blocking the expansion of Medicare under the Affordable Care Act as their number one legislative objective for Arizona in 2013.

Another bill that would prohibit public employees in Arizona from taking leave for union activity - SB 1348– is a virtual carbon copy of the ALEC “Prohibition on Paid Union Activity (Release Time) by Public Employees Act”, which was sponsored by Goldwater at the ALEC conference in North Carolina in 2012. AFP-Arizona list this issue as their number six legislative objective for 2013. At least ten ALEC legislators co-sponsored the bill. A recent report co-released by CMD and Arizona Working Families, investigated Goldwater’s activities in more depth, examining their involvement within ALEC and their other lobbying activities.

Arizona Legislators Operate Secret Scholarship Scheme

Every member of the 2013 Arizona Republican leadership is listed as being a current or recent ALEC member, as are 27 other Arizona lawmakers. Despite ALEC’s non-partisan claims, every one of the 35 identified members are Republican. After a high turnover election in November 2012, during which 13 ALEC members left the legislature, 26 freshman Arizona legislators took up their seats in January. As ALEC step up their legislator recruitment this month ahead of their spring conference in Oklahoma City from May 2-3, 2013, the number of Arizona ALEC members will likely increase even more, and as they are discovered we will make this information public on

The report also details more than $200,000 worth of gifts paid to legislators through the Arizona ALEC “scholarship” fund, using money solicited by Arizona legislators from corporate lobbyists. By using ALEC as a conduit, the fund operates to hide the actual identity of the corporations who wrote the checks. Between 2006 and 2011, these corporations included Salt River Project ($30,000), University of Phoenix ($10,000), Freeport-McMoRan ($12,000) and Apollo Group/Insight Schools ($12,000).

Legislators documented as receiving awards include seven of the eight current Arizona Republican leadership. Between 2006-2011, Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin received $5,945.27 in gifts from the fund, Senate Whip Adam Driggs got $9,610.83 and ALEC Arizona chair Debbie Lesko received $6,149.76. The internal workings of the Arizona fund, as well as identical funds in other states, were explored in another recent report that CMD co-released in November 2012, titled “Buying Influence: How the American Legislative Exchange Council Uses Corporate-Funded “Scholarships” to Send Lawmakers on Trips with Corporate Lobbyists.

ALEC in Arizona was released today by CMD, Arizona Working Families, Progress Now Education, People For The American Way Foundation and Common Cause, at a press conference outside the Arizona State House. This is the third annual report on ALEC’s influence in Arizona. Previous reports exposed the connections between ALEC and the controversial SB1070 anti-immigration law, as well as numerous other anti-worker and anti-environmental bills based on ALEC “model” bills.

Read the full Arizona report here.

(photo credit: <a href="">lonnydub</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>)

Judge Rules In Favor Of AZ Labor Unions Ruling: Restrictions Are Unconstitutional

Originally posted Apr 04, 2013

(Ted Houston, KFYI News) - A federal judge has declared two bills passed by the Arizona legislature in 2011, regulating the behavior of labor unions, unconstitutional.

Senate Bill 1365 required employee consent before their employer could deduct money from their paychecks for “political purposes” including lobbying.  Judge Murray Snow found the law was unconstitutional because it exempted public safety unions, which the bill’s sponsor, former Republican Sen. Frank Antenori, said he had done because public safety unions told him they operate differently from most other unions.

SB 1365 never took effect because it was put on hold due to the lawsuit against it.  The other measure, SB 1363, limited picketing by striking workers.  Judge Snow ruled that the law limited free speech.

The president of the Arizona Education Association, Andrew Morrill, said the laws were passed to retaliate against teachers who protested K-12 funding cuts by the legislature.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne’s office is deciding whether to appeal the ruling.

Read more:

Doubling Down

Originally posted Mar 14, 2013

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Unwilling to compromise with President Obama, Congressional leaders recently forced $85 billion in across-the-board budget cuts known as “sequestration.” These cuts could mean losing up to a million jobs in an already weak economy. But House leaders demanded the cuts even as they refuse to close tax loopholes for Big Oil and Wall Street bankers.

And now Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, is doubling down. Yesterday, Ryan introduced a budget that uses sequestration as a springboard to enact even deeper cuts to vital services like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security while slashing spending on other important domestic programs to their lowest levels since the 1950’s — before Medicare and Medicaid were created. 

Tax loopholes are alive and well in the Ryan budget. At a time when middle-class families are still struggling to get by, the Ryan budget would put their health care and retirement security at risk. Ryan’s plan ends Medicare as we know it and doubles out-of-pocket costs for seniors to subsidize more tax breaks for the wealthiest and big corporations.

While governors from across the country and political spectrum — from Montana to Ohio to New Jersey — are embracing a Medicaid expansion that will cover uninsured Americans and lower costs, Paul Ryan’s budget makes deep and debilitating cuts to this vital health program.

Voters overwhelmingly rejected this extreme and misguided approach during the 2012 elections because it broke one of America’s critical promises. Americans pay into Medicare and Social Security their whole lives and want to know that it will be around for them and their children when they need it. Paul Ryan’s budget would make seniors pay thousands more for Medicare benefits and put Social Security on the chopping block, while giving the wealthiest Americans and corporations a new 10 percent tax cut.

Click here to tell your member of Congress that Paul Ryan’s budget is wrong for America.

In solidarity,


President                        Secretary-Treasurer



GOP Lawmaker Targets Public Employee Unions With Bills

Originally posted Mar 11, 2013

Cronkite News

PHOENIX – Only one in 20 Arizonans is a member of a union, but that hasn’t stopped several state lawmakers from pushing bills aimed at restricting organized labor.

Sen. Rick Murphy, R-Peoria, author of three bills that have won committee approval, wants to rein in unions representing public employees such as police officers, firefighters and teachers, groups he says take advantage of taxpayers.

“It’s incumbent on us if we want to see this change that we need to move the bills through the Senate, and that’s what I’m trying to do,” he said.

Two of Murphy’s bills would restrict the ability of public employee union members to strike and to be paid for time spent on union activities. The other would require public employees represented by unions to sign off each year on having dues deducted from paychecks.

The bills won committee approval and were awaiting action by the full Senate.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, 125,000 Arizona workers, 5.1 percent of the state’s workforce, belonged to unions in 2012. Union members made up 11.3 percent of workers nationwide.

In recent years, Republican lawmakers have successfully pushed for laws to restrict unions, including one to prevent public employees from soliciting political contributions. In 2010, Arizona voters approved a ballot measure requiring secret ballots when workers decide whether to unionize.

Dave Mendoza, a political representative for the Arizona chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said the latest bills continue a trend of legislators not respecting public employees.

“Just because you’re a senator or a state representative or a governor does not mean you know everything about every job,” he said.

SB 1348 would prohibit public employers from paying employees for time they spend on union activities. Murphy, the author, called the practice a waste of taxpayer money, adding that Phoenix alone spends the equivalent of 72 full-time employee salaries each year on so-called release time.

However, Don Isaacson, who spoke on behalf of the Fraternal Order of Police before the Senate Government and Environment Committee, said release time is often used by police to support fellow officers in court or during traumatic times such as searches.

“I know it’s directed at extreme activities, rallies and the like, but it goes far beyond that,” Isaacson said. “I’m concerned that the application of this bill prevents an association member from helping another member.”

Sen. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, supported each of Murphy’s bills before the Government and Environment Committee, which she chairs. As for release time, she said Arizonans shouldn’t be subsidizing any union activities by public employees.

“If you’re being paid for a job, that’s the job you should be doing,” she said. “If you want to do something else on your free time, you shouldn’t get taxpayer money for it.”

SB 1349 would prevent paycheck deductions for union dues or any other third party unless a public employee provides annual written or electronic consent.

It is nearly identical to two other Senate bills proposed this session: SB 1142, authored by Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, and SB 1182, authored by Griffin. Pierce’s bill was awaiting action by the full Senate, while Griffin’s failed on the floor.

Sen. Chester Crandell, R-Heber, said putting controls on paycheck deductions would protect both public employees and their employers.

“For me, having to document on an annual basis what’s coming out of my paycheck is a very good audit process,” he said. “We’re missing the boat here when we pull all of these out and not use it as an audit trail to protect the employer and the employee.”

SB 1350, also authored by Murphy, would prevent those who provide contract labor to the state or political subdivisions from going on strike.

Murphy said the issue caught his attention last year when bus drivers for firms that have contracts with Valley Metro went on a five-day strike. Light rail operators later appeared ready to strike before a union and the firm employing the drivers agreed to binding arbitration.

“With regard to bus services, low-income folks are the predominant user of that service and they really don’t have a lot of other options,” Murphy said in committee. “And when we hold those guys hostage to pay increases that may not really be market-driven, we’re going to end up jacking up either the rate that is charged to those folks or the taxpayer subsidy that pays for that service.”

Meanwhile, House Speaker Andy Tobin declined to allow floor votes for two Republican bills aimed at unions. Rep. Michelle Ugenti, R-Scottsdale, proposed requiring local governments to vote on whether to deduct union dues, while Rep. Steve Montenegro, R-Avondale, proposed requiring public employee unions to follow the state’s open meeting laws.

Tobin has said he wouldn’t block bills forwarded by the Senate.

Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, who joined Sens. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, and Sen. Jack Jackson Jr., D-Window Rock, in opposing Murphy’s bills in committee, said he is “profoundly sick and tired” of what he called legislative attacks on public employees.

“Perhaps if we stop attacking them, they won’t have to spend their release time coming down here to defend themselves from us,” Farley said.

Bills on unions:

SB 1142
• Author: Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott
• Status: Passed Senate Rules Committee.
• Provisions: Beginning Oct. 1, all Arizona public employers would be prohibited from deducting any third-party payments from an employee’s paycheck unless the employee provides express written or electronic authorization annually.

SB 1348
• Author: Sen. Rick Murphy, R-Peoria
• Status: Passed Senate Rules Committee.
• Provisions: Would prohibit public employers from paying a public employee for any union activity, although employees would still able to receive compensated leave for personal reasons.

SB 1349
• Author: Sen. Rick Murphy, R-Peoria
• Status: Passed Senate Rules Committee.
• Provisions: Beginning Oct. 1, public employers would be prohibited from deducting any payments to a third party from an employee’s paycheck unless the employee provides annual written or electronic permission.

SB 1350
• Author: Sen. Rick Murphy, R-Peoria
• Status: Passed Senate Rules Committee.
• Provisions: Would prohibit those providing contracted labor or services to the state or a political subdivision, such as a city or town, from striking or stopping work in any other way.