Readers Comment on Meet & Discuss/Confer (M&D/C)

Yesterday I posted an article by the Goldwater Institute regarding the city of Goodyear getting “snowed” by GY’s public safety unions. I received four very good comments plus a response from the Goldwater Institute in resply to a trashing GI received by one of my readers.

I have posted all the comments except the GI one (too long, but there is a link to it) in this article so that they get wider exposure and perhaps generate even more enlightening conversation about this issue. Rather than reply to each comment separately in the reply area of the previous post, I’ve added my comments to each of them below in bold.

1. First from Sean Rassas, who ran for GY mayor last time out;

Meet and confer was the absolute most important priority for both union presidents during the last election cycle. Any endorsement they were willing to give was directly related to whether a candidate would push for meet and confer. Anything you have that you could share with us that would substantiate this would be appreciated.

2. Next from Wendy Freeman who ran for GY city council last time out;

I guess we now know who those candidates were.  Correct me if I am wrong but every single council member who won last time was “endorsed by police and fire”.

3. Next from reader Scott Lawson (I don’ t know who Scott Lawson is or if that is his real name. Scott, if you’d care to identify yourself further, I’d appreciate it, just send an email to;

Do these unions now have collective bargaining agreements with the city? Today, there are no written , signed, contractual agreements in the formal sense between the city and any unions who may have city employees as members.  There are city HR policies and city “rules” which apply to all city employees, however, and these are ostensibly written by and implemented by city management.  If so, what new or additional advantages do they see from Meet & Confer? That is a really good question.  I think I discuss this relatively thoroughly below in another comment but I’d like to find out if anyone from any of the unions would like to comment answer Scott’s question?  Why do you want it? What does it add/do for you? The Goldwater article says, ” “meet and confer” and “collective bargaining” laws are essentially the same. Both severely limit the freedom of governments to require efficiency, savings or productivity from their unionized employees.  ” Goldwater says they could sue, but I don’t see any reference to that in the proposal. Any one in American can sue, Scott.  The powerpoints appear to be prepared by the city, who works for council, most of whom were endorsed by GY police and fire and took contributions from other city’s police and fire union PACs in the last election and Rassas says above that the endorsements were a quid pro quo of  support for M&D/C so I’d say read the ordinance directly (as I do below) to make your own determination. Are suits prohibited by existing agreements or laws?.  No, I don’t like the sound of this, but I don’t follow what the catch is. Fill me in. More below.

4. And today from Al Lewis who has commented several times before (Hey, Al, are you Albert B Lewis, Jr. of 16279 W. Sherman St., Goodyear, AZ who recently opened up a business called Al’s contracting? Let me know by email, would you?;

Submitted on 2011/10/20 at 7:31 am

Editor’s note; remember, my comments are in bold.   And again, in fairness to Goldwater Institute, Al’s comments have been replied to by the author of the GI “Snowing in Goodyear” article but I did not include them here.  But here is a link to GI’s comments if you would like to read them, they are all the way at the bottom;

With all do (due, Al) respect to Mr. Rassas and Mrs. Freeman that sounds like sour grapes (I always love comments that start out with name calling, {NC} they are so much more believable that way, aren’t they?). I think these two will jump on any opportunity to bolster their standing for their next political attempts more NC.

Had they attended the meeting, or watched it from home as I did, Maybe they did, Al.  I prefer to read the ordinance than believe what city council puts in power point presentations. They are politicians, you know, but maybe that’s just me. they would realize that Arizona is a right to work state. Correct. Let’s look at what that means.  It means that no one can be refused employment if they choose NOT to belong to a representative group like a union because as an individual they should have the same rights and standings as any group. The US is a republic where you are represented but in right to work states the workplace is treated as a democracy.  And the reason for that is so that individual employees’ rights are not subordinated to some elected group which may or may not be dominated by union leaders with an agenda. Here is the AZ Constitution Art. 25 (but there are more laws (see below) that determine all of this )

There is no “collective bargaining” allowed in Arizona nor are local governments required to bargain in “good faith” with any associations.  Probably correct, I won’t debate it. In summary, from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation here are all of the related AZ laws that implement Art. 25  AZ Right to work laws summary 

Now might be a good time to review the presentation that the city gave at the meeting Al refers to as well as the actual ordinance. Here is the city powerpoint and here is the ordinance proposed ordinance . What this power point shows is that a formal process would be put in place to give the employees a CERTIFIED “Employee Organization” (EO. When stuff is capitalized in legal jargon that means that term is “defined” somewhere legally) that would give the EO the “right” to “represent” the Employee Group (EG. Lawyers hide stuff in agreements that they don’t want to be too obvious by making multiple references to different parts of the agreement to make you fish through definitions and what not in order to make it more difficult for you to understand what they are really trying to accomplish).  EG is not defined but I’ve asked GY for the definition.  EO is defined in the ordinance as,

” Public Safety Sworn Employee Organization: An organization representing employees within an Employee Group for the purpose of engaging in the Meet and Discuss/Meet and Confer process”. 

Further in the ordinance it says in the Meet and Discuss portion that the main job of this CERTIFIED EO, will be to “initiate… for the following Budget Year… written recommendations”.

And guess what?  In the same ordinance only 30% of EG members are required to “certify” the EO. I think 51% would make more sense, don’t you?

So let’s recap. 

Instead of each employee representing him or her self, now police and fire will elect with as few as 30% of their members a special “CERTIFIED” group who will appoint leaders who will “represent” them.  Where does that put the individual employee in the pecking order?  Or how about GY citizens?  If we’re going to have a CERTIFIED EO with unique abilities and special rights, can we also then have a CERTIFIED Citizens Group who can submit our issues direct to city management and sit down and get our budget items considered by GY city council?  Not just any citizen who gets only 3 minutes to speak at council meetings and can’t respond when council berates them, but a CERTIFIED Citizens Group who can debate with council and has the ear of the city manager by ordinance! 

But wait, it gets better.  After Meet and Discuss, comes Meet and Confer.  In meet and confer the ordinance states;

“Only those issues identified in the Certified Employee Organization’s initial proposals and those raised by the City Manager and/or in the City Manager’s response shall be discussed during the Meet and Confer process, unless otherwise mutually agreed”.

Not individual employees, not citizens, ONLY the CERTIFIED EO.

This is a collective bargaining system, just like a pig is a pig.  You can choose not to call it a pig, but there is no doubt that it subordinates the individual to the defined EO and since we already know that the union’s reps will be on the EO, one can see the intent.

To answer Mr. Lawson’s question they WOULD NOT have the ability to sue, Al, read what you just wrote. Everyone in America has the ability to sue. What turnip truck do you think we have all just fallen off of?  they would have no ground/merit. Al, they are a defined, CERTIFIED EO with unique, special abilities awarded to them in a written GY ordinance. Stop joshing us, Al. Just read the powerpoint, folks. I did Al, and as you can see from my comments above I also read the ordinances because the powerpoints were prepared by the city manager and/or a consultant (who either he or the unions hired) who works for the city council who all signed on to get this thing passed for the unions who endorsed them and had their brother unions from Mesa, Flagstaff and elsewhere contribute to their election campaigns (in order to circumvent GY City Rule # 700). Like him, I don’t understand what the catch is either. Why don’t you ask that question of the people who made the city council presentation, Al? It seems to me that giving the people who protect us a “voice” with out giving them collective bargaining is a non issue. The issue is giving a city defined, union dominated, certified EO special authority that ordinary, individual employees don’t have. Why do you feel they don’t have a voice now, Al?  Do you believe as I do, that GY is that badly run and they are mistreating their employees?  If so, you are agreeing with me on a lot of things Al,  and if you have some info on what has formed your opinion, I’d like you to send me the info that you have so I can publish it. “No Voice” or “We need a voice” sounds like something we heard during the Wisconsin protests from union members occupying the capital building in Madison.

I was very disappointed to learn that the Goldwater Institute, an organization I usually find very informative, decided to try and promote fear mongering vs. real information.  I think I’ve pretty much dispelled that statement, don’t you think, Al and the guy from GI told you off pretty good, didn’t he?

As a great researcher Why, thank you, Al. I encourage you to look into to some of the case law, like I did, and get back to your readers about what meet and confer actually is.  And that is what this post has been all about, Al!  Case Law?  I can read the ordinance and the powerpoints just like everybody else. We all understand where this is heading, it’s all about power.  Giving power to a few rather than leaving it distributed to the many.

Here are a few case law points made by the labor attorney And who hired him? at Mondays work session (power point available on-line) here is the powerpoint, Al  Littler Presentation .

Public sector collective bargaining is prohibited in Arizona
–Ariz. Att’y Gen’l Op. 74-11; Ariz. Att’l Gen’l Op. I06-004
–A public employer cannot enter a binding agreement with an employee association because doing so would constitute a delegation of authority and violate elected officials’ responsibility to make decisions
–A public employer may not enter an agreement that would supersede or conflict with the County Employee Merit System

–“Although a memorandum of understanding may result from the process, no binding agreement may be the production of such negotiation; final decision-making authority is necessarily reserved to the public employer.” Ariz. Att’l Gen’l Op. I06-004.

It seems to me that you would applaud any decision that takes power away from the city manger and leaves the ultimate decision in the hands of the elected officials (the people)…but then again we disagree on a lot of things that make sense Name Calling again.

What I think, Al, is that we have a bunch of incompetent council members with an agenda in this case to fulfill their promises to some of their major contributors. And so, Al, you both start and end with name calling.  I’m also not certain where your city manager/power comment comes from or refers to. Is John Fischbach writing these for you, Al?


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