City to ban taxpayer-funded union release time - Ahwatukee Foothills News: News

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City to ban taxpayer-funded union release time

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Posted: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 11:32 am

Following a court order regarding police union release time the city of Phoenix administration has decided to ban all unions from using taxpayer funded release time.

In a memo to all labor leaders a city labor relations administrator recommended all full-time release time employees return to their previous department and no labor group use city paid time to provide representation during grievance or discipline meetings, negotiate agreements, attend union-related seminars or functions, lobby on legislative or political issues or manage union activities or elections.

The decision comes as a result of a court order in Cheatham v. Gordon, in which Judge Katherine Cooper decided full-time release employees are not on city business and, therefore, should not be paid using taxpayer funds.

“Plaintiffs presented undisputed evidence that the City Council approved the 2012-14 MOU without knowing the cost of release time to the City, requiring documentation by PLEA showing the use of the release time funds, and implementing a system to evaluate the cost versus benefit of release time to the City,” the court order states. “This evidence supports the conclusion that the City Council abused their discretion in approving the release time at issue.”

City Labor Relations is working on language to enter into future agreements with associations that conform with the court’s order.

“There are administrative changes required as a result of this court order,” the memo said. “Labor Relations will work with City staff in the development of administrative processes for reporting, approving and tracking the appropriate use of paid time, as well as a mechanism for evaluating the cost versus benefit for those activities that are included as an appropriate dual public private purpose or exclusively public purpose where time is granted.”

The city will begin allowing association members to donate leave time for union work the week of Feb. 10.

“This is big news for the taxpayers of Phoenix,” said City Councilman Sal DiCiccio. “Instead of using taxpayers’ money to fund union activities, we can use this money on vital city services. This money should be used to end domestic violence, end human trafficking, and put more police on the street.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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