Union demands exposed: More money/power - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Opinion

Union demands exposed: More money/power

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Sal DiCiccio

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Posted: Friday, January 20, 2012 5:36 pm | Updated: 4:29 pm, Thu Apr 5, 2012.

What you are about to read will create a significant stir at City Hall. Phoenix is about to enter another round of union negotiations, and I am insisting that the public see all demands and be involved in discussions. You will be told that these negotiations should be behind closed doors. But they forgot an important point: You are the boss. It is you who needs to approve the direction and final plan.

It was those backroom negotiations that got Phoenix into financial trouble, and it is that cozy relationship with the union heads that needs to be fixed. I am your representative. My only job is to protect citizens and taxpayers.

In the past six years, you have heard that Phoenix had no money. The city made significant cuts to libraries, after-school programs and senior services - while raising taxes and fees on families and businesses. During the same time, behind closed doors, and thanks to that often lauded "good relationship with the unions," Phoenix doled out more than $500 million in increased compensation. Now, unions demand more money and more power. Some unions demand that negotiations to spend your money continue to be kept secret.

While we still see neighbors out of work, losing homes and struggling to get by, government unions believe they are entitled to more. The private sector and private sector unions have seen cuts between 15 and 25 percent during the Great Recession, while city government unions have seen 23 percent in increased payouts.

I have released the unions' written demands with a breakdown of what they mean in money and increased power over the city's ability to function (to see the full article and list of demands, go to www.phoenix.gov/district6 and click on the "Union Demands Exposed: More Money/Power" headline under District 6 Meetings/Events). I have no doubt the information there will make quite a few insiders upset because it exposes each demand by each union. Below is a short list of union demands for the next two years, which seek millions and millions more of your money.

I need your input, and I need your help in what you want done. I will forward all responses to management so that your voice for the first time will be heard in the negotiations.

Union demands

• Unions demand a continuation of pay raises.

• Unions demand restoring the 3.2 percent cut (cost over $100 million). This was a one-time cut over a two-year budget. This amounted to about 1.6 percent and only about .5 percent per year coming from salary. Yes, a salary cut of less than 1 percent. At the same time, nearly half the staff received a 4.5 percent raise each year (see continuation, above).

• Unions demand veto power over changing job roles, over changing shifts to save overtime, and limiting other scheduling options for city workers.

• Unions demand Phoenix is prevented from saving money by contracting out any services.

• Unions demand that all negotiation be kept secret.

• Unions demand multiple increases for higher shift differentials, work clothes, handling pesticides, and more.

• Unions demand increased benefits for post-employment health, other insurance coverages, more vacation days, more personal days off, more holiday time.

• Unions demand that taxpayers spend more money to pay city union leaders to not do their city jobs but to do union work instead. Last year, the city spent more than $3.9 million on this.

Questions

• Is it sustainable for 15,000 employees to average $100,000 per year in total compensation?

• Is it fair to taxpayers that a first-year employee receives 40.5 days off the first year - increasing year after year?

• Should government staff be allowed to roll over sick leave and vacation (one employee cashed out more than $144,000 last year)?

• Is it ethical for Phoenix to hand out more pay raises while citizens pay food tax? Is it really unreasonable to ask that pay raises stop for a two-year period?

Please go to the www.phoenix.gov/district6 page to see the thorough breakdown of union demands. Then tell me what you think is sustainable in these times.

• Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio represents District 6, which includes Ahwatukee. To receive his newsletter or to talk to him, call (602) 262-7491 or email council.district.6@phoenix.gov.

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