2012 Government Employee Union Bills Fact Sheets - SB1484, SB1485, SB1486




Fact Sheet: Protecting Worker Paychecks


Traditionally, government unions get state and local government to effectively subsidize their activities by automatically deducting union dues from their payroll. If a government employee is a member of a union, part of his paycheck is automatically redirected to the union. Arizona should ban government unions from taking dues directly out of paychecks without the express written or electronic authorization by employees annually.


  • This bill would modify current statute and would require government employees to annually opt-into paying union dues through express written consent or electronic authorization


  • This bill would not impact deductions that are mandated by law or for state, local and federal taxes.


  • Under this legislation, if a public employee resigns membership from an association or organization, the employee’s authorization for the deduction is rescinded upon employer’s receipt of notification of the resignation.


  • Under this bill, if a public employer knowingly deducts payments in violation of the law, the employer is subject to a fine of at least $10,000 for each violation, which will be deposited into the state general fund. This will help to eliminate intimidation that may occur within a public agency in which employees may not feel free to choose to forgo these deductions.


  • An earlier attempt to implement paycheck protection, SB1365, which passed in the 2011 legislative session, is currently the subject of a successful equal protection legal challenge because it exempted certain types of unions from having to obtain permission to deduct money from members’ paychecks. In order to make paycheck protection viable, it is vital that it apply to all public-sector unions.


  • This bill also would require any other deductions (such as charitable deductions) to be authorized annually. This is to help protect this bill from a potential lawsuit.


Opponents of paycheck protection claim that the law has a chilling effect on government employees’ ability to participate in union activities. This could not be further from the truth:


  • Under this bill, public employees who wish to contribute to their union or any other third party are free to do so—they simply must provide express written consent to the public employer to authorize this. 


  • Only one sort of group could oppose this kind of legislation—a group that is worried it can’t convince its members to voluntarily contribute to its cause. Public employees should have their paychecks protected from being raided to pay for union political activity.


  • Paycheck protection helps to guarantee basic rights of association. It still allows public employees to send money from their paychecks—it simply makes unions ask for permission.




Talking Points: Protecting Worker Paychecks


1)      Paycheck protection gives government workers a choice. Right now, government workers who belong to a union automatically have dues taken out of their paycheck. If they don’t want to have union dues taken out, they have to write a letter and follow a process. All this bill does is reverse that process. Instead of opting-out of paying union dues automatically, government workers will opt-in.


2)      Any union that opposes paycheck protection must have something to fear. Labor unions that oppose this bill must worry that when given a choice their members will choose not to send money from their paychecks to the union. That may or may not be true, but it isn’t the government’s job to collect dues on the union’s behalf without express permission from union members.   


3)      Protecting worker paychecks isn’t time-consuming or expensive. All we’re asking is that union members opt-in once per year to paying dues from their paychecks. This can easily be handled with one more form during the annual benefits enrollment periods that most workers take part in every year. It won’t be time consuming and it won’t be hard. It’s one form, once a year.


4)      This is a pretty basic request. Six states have already passed paycheck protection laws: Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington state, and union strongholds Ohio and Michigan. This is completely non-controversial. Any union who says it is, must have something to fear.  


5)      If a union member wants to pay dues from his paycheck, he will still be able to. All this bill does is require the union member to give permission once a year to have dues taken out of their paycheck. It doesn’t ban unions and it doesn’t ban joining a union.




Fact Sheet: Banning Government Union Collective Bargaining


Government union collective bargaining costs state and local taxpayers around the country tens of billions of dollars in excessive government employee compensation every year. As a result of collective bargaining, in nearly every state, government employees earn above-market salaries in their jobs and already-strapped taxpayers foot the bill. Arizona should enact and expand upon reforms already in place in Virginia, which ban collective bargaining and collectively bargained contracts in the government sector. This could save Arizona taxpayers more than $550 million per year in compensation costs to government workers.

  • This bill states that no state agency or political subdivision is authorized to recognize any union as a bargaining agent of any government officer or government employee.


  • According to this bill, no state agency or political subdivision may collectively bargain or enter into any employee bargain with a union or otherwise meet and confer with any union representing government employees.


Opponents of banning collective bargaining claim that such a ban is redundant in “right to work” states like Arizona because “collective bargaining” is not recognized—technically, “right to work” states replace collective bargaining with “meet and confer” laws. Ultimately, “meet and confer” is just another term for “collective bargaining.”


  • Meet and confer laws force government employers to discuss union demands in “good faith,” which means if unions decide a government employer is not negotiating in “good faith,” they can take them to court. Like collective bargaining, meet and confer laws often force lawmakers to grant government workers above-market compensation, which causes the cost of government labor to go up across the board.


  • Meet and confer laws often force negotiations to occur behind closed doors with no public input and at meetings that are closed to the public. By banning collective bargaining, meet and confer laws, and anything else similar, Arizona will be able to increase transparency for taxpayers.


Opponents also claim that targeting government-sector collective bargaining as opposed to collective bargaining in private-sector unions is unfair, but government unions and private-sector unions are completely different for the following reasons:


  • Members of government unions help elect their employers (lawmakers); which means government employers have an interest in satisfying demands of union members that private-sector employers don’t have. To make it worse, government employers are able to satisfy these interests by passing the cost onto the taxpayers (government can simply raise taxes to pay for high labor costs).


  • Elected officials are supposed to look out for taxpayers, but collective bargaining forces them to be on the side of unions rather than on the side of taxpayers. Banning collective bargaining in government will put lawmakers back on the side of taxpayers.



Talking Points: Banning Government Union Collective Bargaining


1)      Collective bargaining costs taxpayers millions each year and we can’t afford it. The government’s own statistics show that government workers are paid about 40 percent more than an equivalent worker in the private sector, when you add up the salary and all the benefits. Taxpayers who are paying for all these workers can’t afford to pay for extravagant salaries and benefits. Collective bargaining, and Arizona’s meet and confer laws, directly contribute to these high costs. Estimates show that Arizona will save about $550 million a year if we end collective bargaining.

2)      Collective bargaining makes government budgets unsustainable. Collective bargaining causes problems for governments and taxpayers over the long term because not only do workers get higher than normal salaries now, unions negotiate pension and health benefits that are higher than normal too. Ultimately, taxpayers have to choose between paying government workers and retirees and services. If government employee costs were more manageable, taxpayers wouldn’t face these hard choices every time we have a budget shortfall.

3)      Collective bargaining makes governments inflexible. Collective bargaining agreements include provisions that make it hard for governments to fire bad workers, reorganize jobs, or lower salaries when facing a budget deficit. These agreements also make it impossible to reward good workers—they force everyone to be treated the same. Government needs the flexibility to adjust to economic realities by eliminating positions and lowering salaries when necessary, and to be able to reward workers who deserve it.

4)      Collective bargaining is not a “right.” No worker has a right to require their boss to negotiate with a third party about their individual salary and benefits. Government workers have a right to join a union and they have a right under federal and state law to be protected from discrimination in the work place, but they don’t have a right to require the government to agree to union demands for their salary.

5)      Virginia, Wisconsin, and other states have already done this and the sky has not fallen.

  1. In 1972, Virginia banned collective bargaining for all government workers and government unions and the outcome has been hundreds of millions of saved dollars. All government functions are still performed and there have been no negative impacts to taxpayers. In fact, Virginia is routinely cited as one of the best run states in the country. 
  2. Before Wisconsin banned collective bargaining, school districts and local governments were facing laying off teachers and other workers because they couldn’t afford to keep them all. Now, nearly every local government is back in the black and no workers are facing losing their jobs because of a budget shortfall. Collective bargaining hurts government workers and teachers just as much as it hurts taxpayers. Good workers deserve to keep their jobs, but union requirements often make that impossible.


6)      Meet and confer is the same thing as collective bargaining.  Any rule that requires a government to negotiate with unions until the union gets what it wants has the same end result: higher than normal salary and benefits, inflexibility, and unreasonable demands, all paid for at taxpayer expense. Arizona is on the road to recovery and now is the time to get rid of rules that will keep us from getting our budgets completely back on track.


Key Word Choices to Keep in Mind

1)      Polling shows that voters respond more positively to banning collective bargaining when the term “government union” is used rather than “public-sector union.” When advocating for an end of collective bargaining, it is most effective to refer to “government unions.”

2)      Polling shows that voters don’t want to ban collective bargaining if it is described as a right, i.e. “collective bargaining rights.” It is important not to use the term “collective bargaining rights” when talking about ending collective bargaining.

3)      Proponents of collective bargaining often refer to the practice as a “human right.” Proponents of collective bargaining also frequently refer to the practice as a “workers’ rights.” Collective bargaining is not a right of any kind. It is important to stress that the federal and state governments already have ensured that workers’ rights are protected, and collective bargaining is not one of them—it is simply a current labor practice.

4)      While it is important to talk about the savings for taxpayers that banning collective bargaining will ensure, it is equally important to talk about the positive impact that a ban will have on the lives of Arizonans and government employees:


  1. Banning collective bargaining will allow us to have a more effective government and more responsive government jobs. Government workers will be able to use their judgment more, and we will be able to reward government workers who are entrepreneurial in their jobs through merit pay and other benefits. This will create a workforce that is innovative and happy in their jobs long-term.
  2. We want to create a more resilient government that is responsible and responsive to the people it works for. Collective bargaining forces governments to cut services because it forces them to choose between paying inflated salaries and benefits and other programs—we want to make it easier for government to be flexible so we can keep the services that Arizonans deserve.
  3. Across the state, parks, libraries, and other services have been slashed because of practices including collective bargaining. We want to guarantee to working Arizonans that they will get the services they’re paying taxes to have.



Fact Sheet: Banning Government Union Release Time


Taxpayers in Arizona and across the country foot the bill for union activism through a little-known tactic called “release time.” Under release time, public officials agree in contracts with labor unions representing public employees to exempt select employees from their job duties and allow them instead to do full-time union work while still receiving a government salary and benefits. This scheme is a costly proposition for taxpayers. For example, the City of Phoenix pays nearly 4 million dollars each year for release time. This bill would prohibit the practice of release time and saving taxpayers millions of dollars every single year.


  • This bill requires that government employees shall only be compensated for work that “directly and primarily benefits their public employer or the general public.”


  • This bill expressly prohibits employment contracts for public employers from including compensation for union activities and prohibits public employers from entering into any employment bargain with a public employee or union that would compensate any government employee or third party for union activities.


  • This bill does not prohibit public employees from receiving compensated leave time for personal purposes, provided that compensated leave time is not knowingly taken or given to compensate for union activities.


Opponents of banning release time claim that the money taxpayers pay out in release time does not constitute extra funds—rather that government employees are forgoing this money from their salaries. This could not be further from the truth:


  • The City of Phoenix, which spends millions of dollars on release time to the unions of its employees, doesn’t consider release time a trade-off for lower salaries. Until recently, the city council didn’t even know release time existed—the city grants release time because it’s been buried in city contracts with the unions since the 1970s.


  • Even if this claim were true, many government employees would fare better if public employers defunded release time and redirected the associated moneys to employee salaries. Then, public employees could choose whether to keep their portion of the money or put it back into funding release time via increased union dues—a step they would be free to take on their own as union members.


  • The cost to taxpayers associated with release time extends far beyond the dollars spent on salaries and benefits covering non-government work. Because of release time, there is no pressure on unions to settle grievances or shorten negotiations because there’s no cost to them.


  • The current practice of release time reveals a pernicious scheme: Money unions would otherwise have to spend paying the salaries of their top officers is freed up for other activities, including electioneering. In one of Phoenix’s labor contracts, release time even pays for the union’s lobbyist—all at taxpayer expense.


Talking Points: Banning Government Union Release Time


1)      Taxpayers should not foot the bill for union work. In nearly every city in Arizona, taxpayers are picking up the cost for union work. City employees are paid full time city salaries and benefits, but instead of doing their city jobs, they do full time work for the labor union. This practice costs millions each year. In Phoenix alone, city taxpayers spend nearly one million dollars a year to send six city police officers to work as full-time union managers, 35 to work as part-time union representatives, and one to work as a union lobbyist. The work these people are doing is exactly what union dues are supposed to pay for. There is no reason at all to ask taxpayers to pay these costs.

2)      Banning release time won’t cost government more. Some unions say that if release time is banned, it will cost the government more in salary for government workers. They say that workers take lower salaries because the unions get release time. This is ludicrous. The Phoenix City Council didn’t even know release time existed until recently. They haven’t factored it into their approval of union salary contracts at all because they didn’t even know it was there. Plain and simple, this is a huge waste of money and these expenses should be paid for out of union dues.


3)      Release time compromises public safety. Release time takes fire fighters and police officers off the streets and puts them behind desks doing union work. Taxpayers are paying for core public safety services and protection, not to fund the union. This practice is a slap in the face to taxpayers who consistently agree to provide more tax revenue to public safety services when facing budget reductions. If police and fire services are facing budget shortfalls, they should voluntarily give up release time money and pay for union work through their dues.   


4)      It’s more than money—release time affects the way unions operate. The cost to taxpayers associated with release time is more than just the dollars spent on salaries and benefits paying government workers to work for the union. Because of release time, there is no pressure on unions to settle grievances or shorten negotiations because there’s no cost to them—the taxpayers foot the bill.


5)      Release time may be illegal. The Goldwater Institute has taken the City of Phoenix to court over its release time contract provisions. They claim it bans the Arizona Constitution’s “gift clause” that prohibits giving government money to private organizations. If that lawsuit is successfully, the state will be required to eliminate the practice. It would be better to save taxpayers money and ban the practice now.    









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