Phoenix ends annual multi-million dollar taxpayer subsidy to government unions.
New contracts between Phoenix public employers and public-employee unions went into effect on July 1. Absent from those contracts is the union subsidy known as “release time,” which grants public employees paid leave to engage in union business. In Phoenix, according to the Goldwater Institute, release time cost $3.7 million annually.
In related news, the City of Fort Wayne, Indiana (recently repealed collective bargaining privileges from government union employees), is considering following in Phoenix’s footsteps.
The Fort Wayne News Sentinel reports that City Council member Marty Bender “is considering an ordinance that would prevent union officials from being paid with tax dollars.”
Another Council member, John Crawford, noted that tax funded “union police and fire positions cost taxpayers about $200,000 per year.”
Thankfully, nearly every state can follow Phoenix’s fiscally responsible action to end union release time. Forty-seven state constitutions contain a provision, known as the “Gift Clause,” which prohibits public expenditures to private entities when the spending does not serve a public purpose or fails to provide direct, proportionate consideration for the aid given.
Union release time does not meet either criteria of the Gift Clause (Cheatham v. DiCiccio). The subsidy to government unions serves only the interest of the union and provides zero discernible consideration to the public.
Now its up to taxpayers to use their constitution to challenge the wasteful practice of union release time.