Posted: Feb 1, 2012 9:19 PM
Updated: Feb 2, 2012 3:10 AM
TUCSON - Unions within school districts and local governments could be losing their bargaining power.
A senate committee voted Wednesday to ban collective bargaining with public employee unions. The bill could go to the full senate late next week. Supporters insist it would save taxpayer dollars, but union leaders call it an attack on public employee unions that takes away the voice of workers.
"Anytime you take community members out of the conversation you wind up with disaster," said John Fife, the President of the Amphitheater Education Association.
We sat down with The Amphitheater Education Association and Tucson Fire Association. Both believe banning employers and employees from discussing the issues affecting them would be devastating.
"Teacher working conditions are student learning conditions, you can't separate the two. The people who do the day to day work with kids know what's best for their students," said Fife.
"I think anything that discourages labor and management from sitting down together and agreeing on those things that they can't agree on is going to be detrimental," said Brian Delfs, the Vice President of the Local 479 Tucson Firefighters Association.
Yet those who are in favor of the ban say it could save Arizona hundreds of millions of dollars.
"This is why collective bargaining laws threaten the very foundation of our republic," said a supporter of the ban.
The bills would make collective bargaining illegal, end automatic payroll deductions, and ban compensation for union work. Tucson Fire has 630 firefighters in the union. If the bill passes, they would have to take their concerns to the city council.
"It's not beneficial or efficient for 630 firefighters, plus how many other 5,000 city employees there are to stand in front of mayor and council and each get their three minutes. That's why we have one representative that speaks for the whole," said Delfs.
For Amphi it could mean more bad news after millions of dollars in cuts over the past few years.
"Morale is already low and this is going to be another blow if it passes," said Fife.
We tried contacting Senator Rick Murphy, who is the sponsor of the proposed collective bargaining ban, he said he would email a comment but we have yet to receive it.
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