Cavanaugh on History of GY Meet and Discuss/Confer

by Mayor Jim Cavanaugh

On 27 October an Al Lewis blogged on howardsgoodyearblog that in contrast to a comment I made on that same day, neither I nor council ever voted on “meet and confer” during my 11+ years on council.   In response to his suggestion, I did review the meeting video from the 10/24 council meeting, also read the power point presentation and reviewed the approved ordinance.  The ordinance references an earlier ordinance from 2005 that the new ordinance changes.  I could not pull up the 2005 ordinance on the Goodyear website but assumedly, (in contrast to Al Lewis’ blog comment), that ordinance reflects a decision of council to continue the informal processes in which the public safety union associations met with the city manager to express their concerns but not to approve the highly formalized mandatory “meet and confer” rules.

However, an assumption is not enough so I called two former councilmembers who had served during the early 2000’s.  Both recalled voting in opposition to a proposal from the unions to adopt “meet and confer” in Goodyear.  One former councilmember even recalled the name of the person presenting in behalf of the “meet and confer” advocates, the location of the meeting (the justice facility on Litchfield Rd), and the vote count, which was 7-0 against “meet and confer.”  I was one of those seven votes.

The current city attorney spoke of our vote as merely part of an evolutionary cycle leading to eventual confirmation of “meet and confer.”  That comment does disservice to 27 years of council decision-making in which “meet and confer” failed to achieve status as an approved and mandatory method of negotiation between unions and city management.  Our council explicitly stated, “NO” to “meet and confer.”  We did not say, “Consider our vote as sort of a transitory negative and take it up with another council later”.

For 27 years, since 1984, elected representatives of the people of Goodyear have been either unanimous in opposition or unwilling to consider the establishment of “meet and confer” in our City.  These representatives felt as I do that “meet and confer” is not necessary to compensate an already nicely compensated public safety force and may very well result in increased costs and reduced effectiveness in government.

To defend the 7-0 decision of this current Council in favor of implementing “meet and confer,” one must attempt to explain what is different today versus the past 27 years, i.e. why does this council deem “meet and confer” necessary when 27 years of councils did not deem it necessary nor appropriate? Neither the public safety union officials nor their Al Lewis-like pawns want to answer that question, so they simply deny the existence of earlier council actions or qualify the actions as merely misguided efforts in an evolutionary cycle.  To my knowledge, police and fire have always been treated with fairness and respect, and their compensation packages reflected same.  That hasn’t changed.  However, one thing has changed from past councils.  In this year’s 2011 elections, public safety unions from throughout the State of Arizona contributed amounts far surpassing any previous union level of campaign financial support to Goodyear candidates.  In fact, five of Goodyear’s elected leaders were on the receiving end of significant union financial support.  That is what changed after 27 years.


5 Responses

  1. I think it is safe to assume that after last night it is clearly obvious that public employee unions own not only the Goodyear City Council, but the Surprise, Phoenix and Tucson City Councils as well. So interesting how they sell it to the citizens–“your house is going to burn down”, “if you call 911 no one will answer”, “all of our city employees will bolt for greener pastures”, (hello how could the pastures be any greener?) and the topper is “well you’re just Un-American if you don’t support meet and confer (aka collective bargaining) laws for America’s heroes”. Sadly, with a dumbed down electorate they fall for it every time especially the poor seniors living in our local retirement communities. I bet the dumbells on the HOA in PebbleCreek all voted for every single one of these union owned council members, but if a true American hero gets behind in his HOA dues–well heck no he’s not marching in our parade!

    I I

  2. Remember only half of Goodyear staff is made up of union members. Doubt that balance changes anytime soon.

    And to Mr. Cavanaugh, thank you for your service to our country.

  3. It’s the “Burning Babies and Dying Old Ladies spiel”. Heard it first about 30 years ago when California State Fire was trying to convince various County Board of Supervisors to contract out their fire service. How many council members retired from, or hold positions in, union based/driven employment?

  4. Well I guess I don’t have to spend the weeeknd figuring this one out!

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