Originally posted Feb 22, 2013

Stop the Giveaways

It's time to stop subsidizing tax giveaways for the super rich by cutting vital programs. We need a fair tax code in order to create a fair economy.
Sign our petition to Congress >>

Celebrating 20 Years of the Family and Medical Leave Act

Before the passage of the FMLA, far too many workers had to make the intolerable choice between keeping their jobs and taking the time to give birth or responding to a family crisis.
The FLMA lent a helping hand to workers in their time of need, and it has now benefitted more than 10 million working families. Now it's time to extend the FMLA even further.
Learn More >>

Benefits Corner

AFSCME Advantage: AT&T Calling Plans

Get steep member discounts on AT&T calling plans - then win an iPad Mini just by spreading the word!

Keep refreshed with this handy travel mug. It has an open-close lid and its emblazoned with the AFSCME logo.

Illegal Sale Of Pennsylvania Lotto Blocked By State Attorney General

Originally posted Feb 22, 2013

Gov. Tom Corbett exceeded his constitutional authority by signing a deal with a foreign gaming firm to privatize the Pennsylvania Lottery, ruled state Attorney General Kathleen Kane last week. Kane also concluded that the deal clashed with the state lottery act, the gaming act and applicable case law while also violating the state constitution.

By shifting the management of the lotto to Camelot Global Services PA, LLC—a private, foreign firm—up to 170 state lottery workers, many of whom are AFSCME members, would have been out of a job. The contract would have also expanded the state lotto into electronic gambling machines, like keno. Kane ruled that the authority to privatize and expand the state lottery rests with the legislature, not the governor.

Corbett has not yet ruled out a court challenge to overturn the attorney general’s ruling. AFSCME International Vice President and Council 13 Executive Director Dave Fillman called on the governor’s administration “to move on and get to the business of making one of the nation’s best lotteries even better.”

Before cutting a deal with the British firm, Corbett promised that his plan would bring in more than $130 million in additional income for programs for seniors each year, although the Pennsylvania lotto has one of the lowest administrative costs in the nation. With little to cut, Camelot would have to go after lottery employees’ compensation and jobs while looking for additional revenue streams—like electronic games—that would go after more lower-income players.

Gov. Corbett has shown his hand—he is willing to do whatever is necessary to privatize state services. Although AFSCME members and Pennsylvanians of all stripes scored a victory with the attorney general’s ruling, Corbett is ready to go all in to sell off the Keystone State’s assets.

Big Savings

Originally posted Jan 19, 2013

Sticking to your New Year’s resolutions will be easier with these AFSCME Advantage deals. Resolve to make 2013 your best year ever with our special program of discounts and savings for our members.


Lose weight, Get healthy


Save 20-60% off monthly fees at gyms nationwide, as well as discounts on online healthy living programs, including smoking cessation and weight management.

Get discounts to getting healthy today!

Manage your money better

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Get a free budget analysis session and additional savings on debt management plan fees, bankruptcy counseling and more.

Click here to get your finances in order today!

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Through special scholarships to support union leaders, college scholarships and other higher education services, AFSCME Advantage helps union members and their children attend college and build upon their education. For union families, it's more than just learning - it's investing in their future.

Learn more here.

Since 1992, the Union Plus Scholarship Program has awarded more than $3.4 million to students of more than 2,200 working families who want to begin or continue their post-secondary education.

The deadline is January 31 - apply today!

In solidarity,

Lee Saunders


Laura Reyes



Right To Know Webinar For AFSCME Members On Hazard Communication Standard

Originally posted Jan 12, 2013


Nearly every AFSCME member will be affected by a new, basic health and safety regulation: the Hazard Communication Standard (Hazcom), or Right to Know Law. (Click here to register for the online seminar.)

OSHA estimates that more than 32 million workers are exposed to 650,000 hazardous chemical products in more than 3 million American workplaces. Most affected are public works, transportation, school employees and health care.

The new regulation is designed to keep workers safe. It requires chemical labeling, developing chemical fact sheets and training workers on the hazards of and safe work practices for the chemicals they work with. The regulation also requires that chemical manufacturing companies use standardized labels, pictures and chemical fact sheets.

The law isn’t set to go into effect until 2016, but employers are required to train their employees on these changes by Dec. 1, 2013.

Learn all about the Hazcom changes in a new webinar on AFSCME’s Online Leadership Academy. Health and Safety Specialist Diane Brown will give you the inside scoop on the law, explaining what the changes mean to AFSCME members. The webinar will take place at 6 p.m. EST, Tues., Jan. 15. Register online now (you’ll need your member ID).

We, Fight On!

Originally posted Jan 05, 2013

Dear Sisters and Brothers:

On Tuesday, Congress approved compromise legislation that generates much-needed revenue by requiring the wealthiest to pay more in taxes, while offering an economic lifeline to the vast majority of working and unemployed Americans and their families.

The deal will:

  • Make tax cuts for the middle class permanent

  • Continue unemployment assistance for the long-term unemployed

  • Extend critical tax credits for working families

  • Delay massive across-the-board spending cuts in military and domestic programs for two months, known as sequestration.

    The Upcoming Fight Over the Debt Ceiling

    Unfortunately, the legislation did not raise as much new revenue as we wanted and it also sets the stage for major battles over spending cuts in the months ahead.

    The legislation did not raise the federal debt ceiling, a limit set by Congress that determines how much money the federal government can borrow to pay its expenses.

    If Congress does not raise the debt ceiling soon, the federal government will not be able to pay back the money it has borrowed. It is like being unable to pay the minimum balance on your credit card bill, leading to grave consequences for the US economy.

    Protecting Working Families

    In the weeks ahead, we must remain vigilant. Tea Party Republicans have pledged to use the federal debt ceiling as leverage to extract further cuts to vital services that protect our communities – including funds for public schools, public safety, transportation, scientific research and college loans.

    They have made it clear that cuts in programs for veterans, seniors, students and low-income citizens will all be on the table. This also means that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid remain at risk. As one of our best activists, we need your help this year to protect these crucial services.

    In 2012, AFSCME members were a strong and consistent voice for all working people. We sent thousands of e-mails and made scores of phone calls to Congress on issues like the fiscal cliff, the Paul Ryan budget, and the Affordable Care Act.

    Together, we do make a difference.

    Moving Forward in 2013

    We need to continue working closely together during these challenging times and focus on real solutions in the budget debates ahead of us. There are alternatives to unnecessary, reckless cuts.

    We must press Congress and President Obama to focus on job creation, which is the best way to stimulate our economy.

    Working families need you, and all AFSCME members, to fight for a fairer economy that benefits all Americans.

    Click here if you’re ready for the heavy lifting that needs to be done in 2013.

    In Solidarity,




Unions Vow Political Payback For Right-To-Work Law

Originally posted Dec 10, 2012

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — With defeat in the Michigan Legislaturevirtually certain, Democrats and organized labor intend to make enactment of right-to-work laws as uncomfortable as possible for Gov. Rick Snyder and his Republican allies while laying the groundwork to seek payback at the polls.

Shellshocked opponents of the laws spent the weekend mapping strategy for protests and acts of civil disobedience, while acknowledging the cold reality that Republican majorities in the House and Senate cannot be stopped — or even delayed for long by parliamentary maneuvers. Leaders vowed to resist to the end, and then set their sights on winning control of the Legislature and defeating Snyder when he seeks re-election in 2014.

“They’ve awakened a sleeping giant,” United Auto Workers President Bob King told The Associated Press on Saturday at a Detroit-area union hall, where about 200 activists were attending a planning session. “Not just union members. A lot of regular citizens, non-union households, realize this is a negative thing.”

Right-to-work laws prohibit requiring employees to join a union or pay fees similar to union dues as a condition of employment. Supporters say it’s about freedom of association for workers and a better business climate. Critics contend the real intent is to bleed unions of money and bargaining power.

Hundreds of chanting, whistle-blowing demonstrators thronged the state Capitol last week as bills were introduced and approved hours later, without the usual committee hearings allowing for public comment. Even more protesters are expected Tuesday, when the two chambers may reconcile wording differences and send final versions to Snyder, who now pledges to sign them after saying repeatedly since his 2010 election the issue wasn’t “on my agenda.”

In Kalamazoo on Sunday, union protesters sang Christmas-themed songs attacking Snyder and Republican lawmakers and left a bag of coal outside the office of state Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, a bill backer.

Republicans are betting any political damage will be short-lived. During a news conference with GOP leaders last week announcing their intent to press ahead with right-to-work measures, Snyder urged labor to accept the inevitable and focus on showing workers why union representation is in their best interest.

“Let’s move forward, let’s get a conclusion, let’s get an answer and get something done so we can move on to other important issues in our state,” he said.

On that point, at least, the governor won’t get his way. Unions and their Democratic allies say this means war.

Allowing employees to opt out of financially supporting unions while enjoying the same wages and benefits as members undermines the foundation of organized labor, they contend. A UAW bulletin described it as “the worst anti-worker legislation Michigan has ever seen.”

“You will forever remember the day when you thought you could conquer labor,” Sen. Coleman Young II, a Detroit Democrat and son of the city’s fiery late mayor, boomed during floor debate Thursday. “Be prepared to engage in the fight of your life.”

But for all the defiant rhetoric, the opposition faces tough odds.

State law forbids repealing spending bills through referendums, and Republicans made the right-to-work measures immune by attaching a $1 million appropriation. So the only apparent way to nullify the policy, once enacted, will be to seize statehouse control through the ballot box.

Even after losing five House seats in November, Republicans will retain majorities in both chambers for the next two years — during which time they expect voter attention to turn to other topics. They redrew district lines in their favor after the 2010 Census, boosting their long-term prospects.

Also, as Snyder noted, fewer than 20 percent of Michigan workers are union members. Organized labor rolls and influence have declined in recent years, emboldening Republicans to challenge unions even in their historic Rust Belt stronghold.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker survived a recall attempt after curtailing collective bargaining for most public employees. After Indiana enacted a right-to-work law this year, voters in November gave Republicans a legislative majority so large they can conduct business without any Democrats present. Snyder and GOP lawmakers already had chipped away at Michigan union rights, even forbidding school districts from deducting dues from teachers’ paychecks.

Another problem for opponents: Right-to-work has considerable voter support. A statewide phone survey of 600 likely voters conducted in late November by the Lansing firm EPIC-MRA found 54 percent favored the idea while just 40 percent opposed it, although they were evenly divided when asked whether Michigan should become the 24th state with such laws. The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Arlan Meekhof, straining to be heard over jeering opponents in the chamber’s gallery, argued last week that by enacting right-to-work, “we are announcing to the world that we are moving Michigan forward. We are for workplace fairness and equality and we are for job creation.”

To go up against all those obstacles, unions and Democrats will need solid organization, steadfastness and a persuasive case.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, who as a state legislator in the 1960s sponsored the labor law that right-to-work measures would overturn, called for a “massive education campaign” to remind voters of unions’ role in building the middle class and explain how the new policy will weaken their ability to bargain for good wages and benefits.

“What’s at stake is the cooperative, constructive labor-management relations that have ripened over the last 15 to 20 years,” Levin said. “This governor is essentially saying that instead of collaboration, it’s going to be dog-eat-dog.”

Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook said Republicans pushed the one issue guaranteed to unite an often fractious labor movement.

Activists have filed a lawsuit claiming the state Open Meetings Act was violated when police temporarily barred doors to the Capitol during last week’s debate. Other legal challenges are being considered, opponents said. Union members distributed leaflets Saturday at a college basketball game in the Upper Peninsula city of Marquette.

That’s only the beginning, Cook said. While declining to discuss specific plans, he vowed labor would fight hard to unseat right-to-work supporters in 2014 and might try to recall some legislators even earlier.

“Whoever votes for this,” Cook said, “is not going to have any peace for the next two years.”

The Average Full-Time Worker In A "Right To Work" State Makes About $1,500 Less Annually Than A Similar Worker In A Non-RTW State.

That's Not Just Union Workers. That's Every Worker Earning Less As A Result Of Union Busting.

Originally posted Dec 10, 2012

Michigan’s Republican Party is on a lame-duck blitzkrieg to pass extreme legislation that limits women’s health optionsprivatizes education and busts unions.

The fact that the Michigan GOP is taking on labor rights by ending closed union shops in the state where the labor movement helped create the middle class is a slap in the face to workers. That Republicans are doing it after Mitt Romney lost the state by 9.5 percent is a reminder of the lasting effects of the 2010 election, when Democrats stayed home and the GOP won the opportunity to redistrict themselves into power for the next decade.

The deceptively named “Right to Work” bill was passed by both state houses and is about to be signed into lawwithout one hearing or any input from citizens. The legislation includes a $1 million appropriation so it cannot be overturned by popular vote, as the Emergency Manager Law was in November.

Labor is still trying to pressure Governor Rick Snyder, who until this lame-duck session had been reluctant to put his signature on a law designed to deflate union power in the heartland of the auto industry. But with multimillionaire Rick DeVos promising to support any Republican who votes for the bill and punish anyone who doesn’t, the bill seems destined to become law.

Find out why so-called “Right to Work” laws hurt all workers and weaken the middle class.

$1,500 less annually than a similar worker in a non-RTW state. That’s not just union workers. That’s every worker earning less as a result of union busting.

“Where unions are strong, compensation increases even for workers not covered by any union contract, as non-union employers face competitive pressure to match union standards,” EPI has found.

Happy Holidays!

Originally posted Dec 06, 2012

On behalf of AFSCME Local 3282 and its member we would like to wish you and your a safe and Happy Holiday Season!

Dear AFSCME Sisters And Brothers, You Did It! We Did It!

Originally posted Nov 08, 2012

America re-elected President Obama and Vice President Biden—giving them added strength in the fight to create jobs and opportunity. The voters have given a mandate to protect vital programs like Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, end tax cuts for the wealthy and strengthen the middle class.

It’s not just the Presidential contest that we’re celebrating today, either. From Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, to Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, to Chris Murphy in Connecticut—working people have strong new allies in the U.S. Senate. And we won key ballot initiatives. We defeated Proposal 1, the “Local Dictator Law,” in Michigan and beat back an attempt by corporations to hijack our democracy, called Prop 32, in California.

We won because of more than 65,000 AFSCME members who rallied, made phone calls, knocked on doors and drove people to the polls.

Please WATCH this short video—a tribute to all the AFSCME sisters and brothers who made a difference.

You can also read more about the election results in this special AFSCME report “Main Street’s New Moment:What Election 2012 Means for America’s Working Families.”

Make no mistake though, as sweet as Tuesday’s victories are, we must continue fighting. Next week, Congress will reconvene to consider many important budget issues that will determine America’s priorities—and just like in the election, we’re going to need AFSCME members on the frontlines of the fight.

Thanks for everything you’ve done and continue to do to protect public services and the middle class.

In solidarity,



AFSCME's Reyes: "Cook Your Own Dinner, Governor Romney"

Originally posted Oct 22, 2012

Statement of AFSCME Sec.-Treas. Laura Reyes on the Presidential debate

Washington, DC —

“In last night’s Presidential debate, Mitt Romney ignored the issue of pay equity when asked about it. Instead, he proposed that employers should follow his example and let women have flexible schedules so they can go home in time to do things like make dinner for their families. Romney is more concerned about American women getting dinner on the table than he is about them getting paid equal pay for equal work. Cook your own dinner, Governor Romney.

America’s working women don’t need patronizing suggestions. They demand and deserve equal pay for equal work, something that Pres. Barack Obama supported when he signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as his first act in office. Mitt Romney’s campaign once said it would “get back [to]” the American people about whether Romney supported equal pay protection. It was clear last night that Romney still has no answer.

More than 54 percent of AFSCME members are women. We know that equal pay is directly connected to economic stability for our families and the American economy. When it’s time to vote, we won’t forget Romney’s refusal to stand up for our rights. We’ll cast a vote for the candidate who supports equal pay, access to quality, affordable health care, funding for cervical and breast cancer screening providers, and reproductive freedom for women. That candidate is Pres. Barack Obama.”

Mitt Romney's California Garbage Man On The 47 Percent: 'We're Kind Of Like The Invisible People'

Originally posted Oct 03, 2012

The labor union AFSCME is out with a new video featuring Richard Hayes, the man who picks up Mitt Romney’s trash at his oceanfront mansion in La Jolla, Calif.

In the spot, Hayes talks about how hard he works in his job each day and criticizes Romney’s comments about the 47 percent:

My name is Richard Hayes, and I pick up Mitt Romney’s trash. We’re kind of like the invisible people. He doesn’t realize that the service we provide — if it wasn’t for us, it would be a big health issue, us not picking up trash.

Residents do come out and shake our hands. Sometimes they give us hugs and thank us for the job we’re doing, hand us water and Gatorades. Tell us we’re doing a good job and keep up the good work. Picking up 15, 16 tons by hand, that takes a toll on your body. When I’m 55, 60 years old, I know my body’s gonna be break down [sic]. Mitt Romney doesn’t care about that.


According to Politico’s Morning Score, the Hayes video is the first in a series of interviews with workers intended to be “part campaign attack, part online testimonial, part survey tool and part recruiting tool.”

Romney’s campaign did not return a request for comment.

The National Review notes that Romney actually spent a day as a trash collector while running for governor, and observed that he felt “invisible” in the job. From p. 251 of his book “No Apology”:

During my campaign for governor, I decided to spend a day every few weeks doing the jobs of other people in Massachusetts. Among other jobs, I cooked sausages at Fenway Park, worked on asphalt paving crew, stacked bales of hay on a farm, volunteered in an emergency room, served food at a nursing home, and worked as a child-care assistant. I’m often asked which was the hardest job — it’s child care, by a mile.One day I gathered trash as a garbage collector. I stood on that little platform at the back of the truck, holding on as the driver navigated his way through the narrow streets of Boston. As we pulled up to traffic lights, I noticed that the shoppers and businesspeople who were standing only a few feet from me didn’t even see me. It was as if I was invisible. Perhaps it was because a lot of us don’t think garbage men are worthy of notice; I disagree — anyone who works that hard deserves our respect. — I wasn’t a particularly good garbage collector: at one point, after filling the trough at the back of the truck, I pulled the wrong hydraulic lever. Instead of pushing the load into the truck, I dumped it onto the street. Maybe the suits didn’t notice me, but the guys at the construction site sure did: “Nice job, Mitt,” they called. “Why don’t you find an easier job?” And then they good-naturedly came down and helped me pick up my mess.

Voting For Our Next E Board

Originally posted Sept 20, 2012

In today’s monthly meeting we will be having discussions on nominating and electing our new E board. This E Board consists of  president, vice president, secretary treasurer and other prominent roles within the union.

AFSCME Arizona People Conference Primary Endorsements *UPDATE*

Originally posted Aug 13, 2012






U.S. Senate, Richard Carmona

U.S. House of Representatives:

District          Candidate                   -            District          Candidate

CD1               Ann Kirkpatrick (D)                   CD7               Ed Pastor (D)
CD2              Ron Barber (D)                          CD8              Gene Scharer (D)
CD3              Raúl M. Grijalva(D)                    CD9               Kyrsten Sinema (D)

State Senate:

LD 2     Linda Lopez (D)                              LD 19     Anna Tovar (D)
LD 3     Olivia Cajero Bedford (D)              LD 20     Michael Powell (D)
LD 4     Lynne Pancrazi (D)                         LD 21     Michael Tarrats (D)
LD 8     Barbara McGuire (D)                      LD 24     Katie Hobbs (D)
LD 9     Steve Farley (D)                             LD 25     Greg Gadek (D)
LD 10    David Bradley (D)                          LD 26     Ed Ableser (D)
LD 11    Jo Holt (D)                                       LD 27     Leah Landrum (D)
LD 14    Patricia Fleming (D)                       LD 28     Eric Shelley (D)
LD 16    Scott Prior (D)                                LD 29     Steve Gallardo (D)
LD 17    Bill Gates (D)                                  LD30     Raquel Teran (D)
LD 18    Janie Hydrick (D)

State House of Representatives:

LD 2     Andrea Dalessandro (D)                LD18     Corey Harris (D)
Rosanna Gabaldón (D)                   LD19     Mark Cardenas (D)
LD 3     Sally Ann Gonzales (D)                                 Lorenzo Sierra (D)
             Macario Saldate  (D)                      LD 20     Tonya Norwood (D)
LD 4     Charlene Fernandez (D)                               Jackie Thrasher (D)
LD 5     Pamela Durbin (D)                          LD 21     Sheri Van Horsen (D)
LD 6     Doug Ballard (D)                                           Carol Lokare(D)
             Angela Lefevre (D)                         LD 24    Lela Alston(D)
LD 9     Dustin Cox (D)                                              Chad Campbell (D)
             Victoria Steele (D)                          LD 26     Juan Mendez (D)
LD 10    Brandon Patrick (D)                                      Andrew Sherwood (D)
              Bruce Wheeler (D)                         LD 27    Reginald Bolding (D)
LD 11     Dave Joseph (D)                                           Ruben Gallego  (D)
LD 14    Mark Stonebraker (D)                     LD28    Eric Meyer  (D)
LD 16    Matthew Cerra (D)                          LD 29    Martin Quezada(D)
LD 17    Karyn Lathan (D)                                            Martin Samaniego (D)
LD18    Darin Fisher (D)                                LD30    Jonathan Larkin (D)

Pima County

TREASURER                                           COMMUNITY COLLEGE GOVERNING BOARD
Elaine Richardson                                   DIST 3     Sylvia Lee
                                                                 DIST 5     Richard Fridena

                                                                DISTRICT GOVERNING BOARD

DIST 1     Nancy Young Wright               Camy Juarez
DIST 2    Ramon Valadez                       Ralph Ellinwood
DIST 5    Richard Elias                           Kristel Foster

Clarence Dupnik

Maricopa County

DIST 3     Lilia Alvarez                              Yucca     Sammy Chaviera

COUNTY SHERIFF                                    PEORIA CITY COUNCIL
One to     Paul Penzone                            Ironwood    Shawn Hutchinson
Elect        John Rowan                              Willow         Jon Edwards

MAYOR OF GLENDALE                           JUSTICE OF THE PEACE
Manuel Cruz                                            David Hickman


AFSCME's Saunders: Choice Between Obama-Biden and Romney-Ryan "Couldn't Be Any Clearer"

Originally posted Aug 13, 2012


Statement of AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders following Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate

Washington, DC —

“For years Mitt Romney has outsourced American jobs and stashed his wealth in offshore tax havens. Throughout his presidential campaign, he has pandered to extremists within his party who put the interests of the ultra-rich before those of the middle class. Now he has chosen Paul Ryan, who proudly proposes forcing millions of seniors into poverty by ending Medicare as we know it, as his running mate. The distinctions between Obama-Biden and Romney-Ryan couldn’t be any clearer. President Obama and Vice President Biden are fighting for everyone to have a fair shot at the American Dream. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are plotting a nightmare for middle-class families.”

Emergency Meeting June 9th at 9AM

Originally posted June 09, 2012

We are having an emergency meeting this Saturday June 9 at 9am in the Roadrunner Room. In this meeting we will discuss a possible early pay increase starting on the first pay check of FY2013 which is July 12, 2012. A Quorum will need to be held with a minimum amount of members in order to vote on this Contract Ratification.

Emergency meeting in the:

Roadrunner Room SATURDAY June 9th 9:00am

Goldwater Institute Real 'Shakedown' Organization

Originally posted Mar 23, 2012

Steve Poe

Posted: Friday, March 16, 2012 12:30 am

By Steven S. Poe, President, All AZ School Retirees Association

Nick Dranias’ commentary on the “meet and confer” process (March 9 Peoria Times) is nothing but a shakedown by the Goldwater Institute author who has finally found something else under his bed along with the Communists from the 1950s and 1960s. He calls the proposed ban on government sector collective bargaining in HB1485 “absolutely essential” to protect Arizona taxpayers from being “fleeced by government unions.” Let’s look at the background of the Goldwater Institute, Mr. Dranias’ credentials, and any facts he shares with us about the need for his stand.

The Institute is a well-known conservative “think-tank” funded by far-right, wealthy business owners and libertarians. They spend much time and money purportedly “protecting individual liberty.” They say the collective bargaining statutes in Arizona ensure the “very real threat of costly litigation.”

This is an excellent case of hypocrisy, as the lawsuits regularly filed against many Arizona governments is a major expense at the state, county, and local levels. The lawsuits against Clean Elections, protecting the rights of “Tea Party” folks to wear their T-shirts to the polls, lawsuits against the National Labor Relations Board, and another suit that allows private schools to gain an advantage over public schools by allowing state tax credits for those wealthy enough to give to scholarship funds is only the tip of the lawsuit-happy activity at the Institute.

Mr. Dranias’ background is in law, where he was a real estate and commercial and personal injury law specialist in Chicago. In 2005, he became associated with the Minnesota chapter of the Institute for Justice, a self-proclaimed libertarian public-interest law firm providing pro bono litigation help to those suing for right-wing causes. He joined the Goldwater lobbying and legal team in 2008. What makes him so knowledgeable about the meet and confer process and the “shakedown” that public sector unions foist on elected officials? That is an excellent question.

As for the factual information in his printed commentary, there was only one “fact” in the half-page rant. He claims “collective bargaining costs Arizona taxpayers $550 million a year in outsized wages and unsustainable benefits.”

There is no quoted source, no way to check who made up this figure. If any reader researches the salaries of Arizona teachers, firefighters, public safety officers, and the average state and local government employee, you will find a lack of exorbitant salaries among the rank-and-file employees. Yes, with nearly one-half (47 to 48 percent) of the government employees holding college degrees, they do make more money than private sector cashiers and custodians. As for unsustainable benefits, most of these employees have been putting 11-plus percent of their salaries in their retirement fund. How many private sector employees must do that?

As a former elected councilmember in Peoria and a classroom educator in Phoenix, I can tell you from my experience on both “sides” of the meet-and-confer process, that Mr. Dranias’ assertion that local government unions “routinely sue their government employers to meet their negotiating demands” is a flat out lie. The workers in all of these sectors, fire, police, educators, and other government employees, are the same as anyone else on your block. They are trying to do a job and provide for their family, as we all do. They are not indentured servants (which they would be if this bill passes), and should not be treated as such, no matter what Mr. Dranias and the Goldwater Institute want you to believe.

Remember, they spend hundreds of thousands of right-wing/libertarian dollars to lobby state and local governments to get their way and sue us (the taxpayer) if they don’t get what they want. If that isn’t a shakedown, what is?

Ariz. Governor Pushing Pro-Cronyism Bill.

Originally posted Mar 17, 2012

Dark days are ahead for Arizona if Gov. Brewer’s personnel bill passes the state senate (Photo:     Ms. Phoenix    /    Creative Commons    )

Dark days are ahead for Arizona if Gov. Brewer’s personnel bill passes the state senate (Photo: Ms. Phoenix/Creative Commons)

Ariz. Gov. Jan Brewer’s administration and the pro-corporate, anti-worker Goldwater Institute have been pushing new legislation that would wipe out civil service protections for public employees and promote political cronyism in the state government. Brewer’s personnel reform bill, HB 2571, includes a radical plan to wipe out the requirement that the governor needs a reason to fire a state employee and make every state government employee “at-will.”

HB 2571, which passed the state house on a party line vote and now heads to the senate, would allow for long-term employees to be let go without cause. Political appointees could the fire civil service workers to bring in their own friends. This would bring back a political spoils system and reduce checks on political power including whistleblowing and good governance.

This follows an assault on public service that includes extended job vacancies in vital positions, mandatory furloughs and a four-year pay freeze. Tonight, AFSCME members from across the Grand Canyon State will participate in a tele-townhall to discuss Brewer’s latest power grab and the most effective ways to fight back. It is vital for all public workers that Brewer’s pet personnel bill fails in the Arizona Senate.

This Is What Democracy Still Looks Like

Originally posted Mar 13, 2012

Clockwise from Top Left : "Tier It Down" Rally in Zuccotti Park (New York City), demonstration during Philadelphia Mayor Nutter's budge address, and about 65,000 people gather at the "Reclaim Wisconsin" rally (Madison, Wisc.)

Clockwise from Top Left: "Tier It Down" Rally in Zuccotti Park (New York City), demonstration during Philadelphia Mayor Nutter's budge address, and about 65,000 people gather at the "Reclaim Wisconsin" rally (Madison, Wisc.)

AFSCME members were busy this weekend making their voices heard by public officials who prefer to dictate rather than negotiate. In Madison, New York City and Philadelphia, AFSCME members and allies rallied in opposition to anti-worker tactics used by Wisc. Gov. Scott Walker, N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

Approximately 65,000 AFSCME members, labor allies, progressive activists and concerned Wisconsinites gathered at the Wisconsin state capitol in Madison on Saturday, the one-year anniversary of Gov. Walker stripping public workers of their rights. These demonstrators rallied against the backdrop of upcoming recall elections for Walker, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, state Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald and three other state senators. The event also marked the premiere of the feature-length documentary, We Are Wisconsin.

In New York City, AFSCME members and allies held a “Tier It Down” rally in the birthplace of the Occupy movement and the 99 percent, Zuccotti Park. They gathered in the public square to protest Gov. Cuomo’s proposed “Tier VI,” a plan to cut public workers’ pensions by an additional 40 percent.

In Philadelphia, even though local AFSCME leaders helped Mayor Nutter find more than $400 million in savings and $100 million in new revenue during his first four years in office, Nutter has turned his back on public service employees. City workers made their disappointment heard at Nutter’s budget address to the city council, booing and making noise from the visitors’ gallery as Nutter unfairly blamed public workers and AFSCME for the City of Brotherly Love’s fiscal woes.

Demonstrators in all three locations this past week did their best to draw attention to disparity between the top one percent of income earners and the rest of the nation, to public officials who prefer to balance their budgets on working families’ backs and to the unprecedented stripping of workers’ rights.

“Our society is rapidly losing its moral balance as we demand no sacrifices from those who are wealthy,” said Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Executive Director of the Greater New York Labor Religion Coalition in Zuccotti Park, “but make repeated demands for sacrifices from working men and women.”

Arizona Public Service Workers Protest Zombie Anti-Worker Bills.

Originally posted Mar 03, 2012

More than 1,000 AFSCME members, labor allies and community activists rallied outside the Arizona Legislature yesterday to protest four anti-worker bills targeted squarely on state and local public service workers. Two weeks ago, Ariz. lawmakers passed a bill that would put an undue burden on unions and other organizations to collect dues and donations from members. Although the remaining three bills appeared dead, even lacking support from Gov. Jan Brewer, anti-worker legislators brought the zombie, anti-worker bills back from the dead this week.

Demonstrators rallied for workers’ rights and against the influence of the corporate-run organizations—the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Goldwater Institute—that have outsized political influence in the Grand Canyon State. AFSCME members joined with our sisters and brothers from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the Communications Workers of America, the International Association of Machinists, UNITE HERE and the United Steelworkers in opposing the bills.

One of the zombie bills passed by the Senate this week would end release time for all public service workers except for police officers. The final two pieces of undead legislation are languishing in the legislative process. The bill to completely ban collective bargaining between public service workers and state and local governments appears likely to fail.  A piece of paycheck deception legislation, however, could reach the governor’s desk.  AFSCME activists will continue to apply pressure to keep these bad ideas from becoming bad laws.