Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio says he's "bracing for a battle" with city employees' unions over his insistence on cost-cutting, and is raising money to stave off a suspected recall attempt.
A city employees' union, however, says the unions have not been planning any recall attempt, and that DiCiccio is merely "grandstanding."
DiCiccio, whose district includes Ahwatukee Foothills, said he has raised about $8,000 from more than 20 donors - mostly from people living in the northern part of the district, in central Phoenix - in the name of dissuading the unions from going forward with a recall election, or to counter their claims if a recall does materialize.
"The unions have been talking about doing that," DiCiccio said Friday.
James Tierney, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union Local 2384, which comprises city of Phoenix skilled labor, said his union has not been planning a recall. The union represents construction workers, heavy equipment mechanics, auto and building maintenance, water system operators and others.
"The citizens will weigh out the issues and they will put him back in office or remove him from office for his own deeds," Tierney said of DiCiccio.
DiCiccio said that if no recall emerges, he'll either use the money for an upcoming re-election campaign or return it to donors if he decides not to run. But, he added, several indicators have led him to suspect a potential recall attempt. For instance, the City Clerk's Office has informed him of a union representative's inquiry into the recall process, he has been booed by union members at City Council meetings, and the unions have filed a freedom of information request with the city to "dig up dirt" on him, DiCiccio said.
"We responded with all the information they wanted. We do that with everybody," he said. "The discussion is definitely out there. All these things lead you to believe that they're going to launch something against you."
The unions have taken aim at him because he has called for trimming city employees' jobs and salaries in the name of cost-cutting and efficiency, DiCiccio said. Giving more than 15,000 city employees each an average of $100,000 in total compensation is unsustainable, he said.
"If I'm looking for this kind of change, I have to make sure I play a little defense, too," DiCiccio said.
Tierney, a heavy equipment mechanic with the Phoenix Fire Department, said the claim that workers each receive an average of $100,000 in compensation is misleading. Skilled laborers make an average of $63,000 a year, including benefits, he said.
People doing jobs such as digging up sewers and repairing vehicles make about $39,000 to $40,000 a year, he said.
"They're not making anything close to that," Tierney said. "(DiCiccio) is inciting people with information that is not true."
He said city laborers often are the recipients of comments critical of their alleged $100,000 salaries.
"They're starting to feel a lot of unnecessary heat for that," Tierney said.