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House Speaker Sidelines Public Employee Union Proposals

The Speaker of the State House is sidelining a pair of measures aimed at public employee unions. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.

One would require all negotiations between unions and public employers to be conducted in public. The other would preclude paycheck deductions for union dues unless the governing board first voted in public to approve them.

But, House Speaker Andy Tobin pointed out the measures are opposed by unions for police and firefighters. Tobin says, "we still have many of our members who don't want to hurt public safety. And, you know, I'm a big fan. You get a lot of folks who show up at these public safety events and speak highly of these first responders. And they're not smart enough to decide whether they should deduct from their own paycheck for union dues?"

And many of these unions are major campaign contributors. With some republicans loath to do battle with those unions, Tobin says the measures cannot get the necessary votes. And he said there is no legal way to craft a law that applies only to other unions.

But, Representative Steve Montenegro - who is sponsoring the bill on negotiations - insisted there should be votes for his bill. "There is a desire by legislators to kind of bring in some light on how some of these negotiations are happening", Montenegro said. "Especially because it has to do with taxpayers dollars. So I wouldn't say the support isn't there."

But Montenegro conceded there may be discomfort among some GOP colleagues with pushing ahead.