If there's anything lucky about Jan Brewer's plan to dismantle unions in Arizona is that she and her friends are including fire and police (public safety unions) — and perhaps that's what it is going to take to fight this latest attack on labor and get other Arizonans to pay attention.
Her proposed "reforms" would make it illegal for government bodies to collectively bargain; make it illegal for government bodies to collectively bargain with employee groups; end the practice of automatic payroll deductions for union dues; and ban compensation of public employees for union work.
Friday AFSCME Local 449 held a rally downtown in front of the state building and you can go here for more updates and to send a message to state lawmakers that you support Arizona workers. The local also started a Facebook page for updates.
Who or what's behind these series of bills? Donna Gratehouse, who blogs at DemocraticDiva, shared that information in a post on an AFL-CIO blog post you can read in its entirety here. Snipet:
The Goldwater Institute is the Arizona affiliate of the State Policy Network, a national right-wing consortium created by Heritage Foundation members to bring “free market policy solutions” to state legislatures. The Goldwater Institute touts itself as libertarian and generates reams of policy papers, which invariably lead to the same conclusions: Taxes are bad and privatization is good. The Goldwater Institute’s public relations arm is hugely influential over Republican politicians in Arizona and the editors of the largest newspaper in the state, the notoriously anti-union Arizona Republic. Yet despite its considerable input into public policy in this state, the Goldwater Institute does not have to register as a lobbyist organization in Arizona due to its status as an “educational” association.
The Goldwater Institute also happens to be (surprise!) a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, the powerful corporate-funded entity that drafts the business-friendly model legislation that becomes state law all over the country. ALEC Exposed, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy, compiled a list of ALEC model bills pertaining to worker rights, pensions and privatization. It should come as no surprise that several of them deal with public-sector unions and look almost exactly like what they’re trying to pass in Arizona.
A piece from The Nation has also been making its way through the internets the past few days taking a look at what happens when we allow folks like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker into the state of Arizona:
Two days after Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected Governor John Kasich’s anti-labor agenda by a sixty-one to thirty-nine margin in a statewide referendum, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker jetted to Arizona to launch the next front in the national campaign to attack union rights.
After meeting with former Vice President Dan Quayle, Walker was whisked over to the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, where he briefed a thousand Arizona conservatives on how they could attack “the big-government union bosses.”
“We need to make big, fundamental, permanent structural changes. It’s why we did what we did in Wisconsin,” declared Walker, who at the annual dinner of the right-wing Goldwater Institute said that compromising with unions was “bogus.”
Comparing governors who have been attacking the collective-bargaining rights of public employees with the founders of the American experiment—“just like that group that gathered in Philadelphia”—Walker told his listeners: “We need to have leaders not just in Wisconsin but here in Arizona…”
If anyone missed the point, Walker said: “Tonight, you might say I’m preaching to the choir with a bunch of fellow conservatives.… I preach to the choir because I want the choir to sing. So tonight I’m asking you to sing. Tell the message in Arizona and all across America that we can do things better.”
The crowd was listening.