County supervisors oppose pro-union bill
PRESCOTT - Hoping to stop a bill that would require states and local governments to unionize some employees, the county supervisors Tuesday will discuss dispatching a letter to the Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl and Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick asking them to vote against the bill.
The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act (S. 1611), which remains in committee, would affect about 350 county employees, said Alan Vigneron, county human resources director. That would include all public safety employees, including sheriff's deputies, juvenile detention, adult probation and possibly officers of the court, Vigneron said, adding that if those employees unionized it would also affect the county's relations with other employees.
If it became law the bill would likely drive up the county's labor costs, even if salaries remained the same, he said. Just setting up collecting bargaining units would be an expense.
"The state of Arizona is a right-to-work state," Vigneron said. "This is the federal government telling the state and local governments what to do."
While the proposed bill has been around since the Bush administration, the former president said he would veto it. While a candidate President Obama said he would sign it into law if Congress passes it, so county officials are concerned, Vigneron said.
"This would have a big impact on our county," he said.
The letter notes that "very small counties are subjected to the same provisions in the bill as large urban counties ... The bill would force all counties across the nation to engage in collective bargaining practices determined by federal authority, with no responses to local differences."
"Mandatory national collective bargaining agreements handcuff local governments and place restrictions on counties that prohibit managing employees efficiently and according to the needs of our communities," the letter said. "The measure needlessly cedes local control to a distant federal authority and provides no flexibility for county governments of any size."
"I don't think it's the federal government's business what we're doing with our local government," Supervisors Chairman Chip Davis said. "It also the hamstrings us. I think we're a good employer. Just because there may be a few issues between employees and employers, I don't think it's fair to saddle other counties, especially Yavapai County, with this."
The supervisors will also consider a proposal to allow the county to become part of the Phoenix foreign trade zone. City officials have invited the county to join the zone, said county Administrator Julie Ayers. Becoming a part of the trade zone would offer local businesses customs benefits when exporting products and could work as a tool to spur economic development within Yavapai County. The county staff reviewed the proposal.
"We don't see a down side," Ayers said.
In other business, the supervisors will:
Consider a contract for a maximum of $6,000 for Engineering and Testing Consultants Inc. for quality assurance tests on the ongoing widening project on the southern portion of Williamson Valley Road.
Discuss an agreement with the state to re-pave a portion of Cornville Road using federal funds.
Consider a request by filmmaker Susan Brigham to allow part of the Verde Courthouse building to be used in a film to discourage drunk driving.