Unfortunately, the climate in the nation at the present time seems to be one of blaming public sector labor groups for the woes of the nation. In many instances, politicians and political activist groups seem to find it convenient to lump all labor groups into the same basket regardless of the often very real differences between them.
As many of you may or not be aware, PLEA, along with the City of Phoenix, was sued by the Goldwater Institute several months ago over the issue of association release time and association full time release positions. The Goldwater Institute contends that allowing police officers to conduct union business on city time constitutes a violation of the gift clause of the Arizona State Constitution.
PLEA and the City adamantly disagree with this position based on the fact that full time release positions have always been costed against the contract PLEA negotiates with the City every two years. Since our first contracts in the mid-late 70s, PLEA and the City have contractually agreed to full time release based on the understanding that it provides a mutual benefit to the rank and file and city government in the form of smoother more efficient operations.
On May 25, 2012, an evidentiary hearing was held in Superior Court. The arguments for both sides were heard by the Honorable Katherine Cooper. On Wednesday June 6, 2012, the judge’s ruling was published. The court in this instance sided with the Goldwater Institute granting temporary injunctive relief against the City of Phoenix and PLEA with regard to association release time as well as full time release positions. The big question at this point is; how will this impact the operation of PLEA in providing service to its members?
At present time PLEA is working with city management to come up with a workable solution that will satisfy the provisions of the temporary injunction until the new contract goes into effect on July 1, 2012. The possibility exists that officers currently on full time release in the PLEA office will return to some type of field assignment until July 1st when the new contract comes into effect.
If full time release personnel are temporarily removed from the PLEA office, PLEA front office staff will still be in the office to provide service with regard to phones, merchandise and tickets. There will still be a board member and rep on standby status 24/7 for callout situations; however, response could be delayed if the board member on call is tied down by duties on the street or the position they are assigned to.
Once the new contract is in effect, the full time release officers will be back in the office. We fully expect the Goldwater Institute to take another run at PLEA and the City to challenge the release provisions of the new contract. The 2012-2014 contract has new language that more specifically describes the purpose of release time.
CLICK HERE to read a recent article on the topic by E.J. Montini.