Phoenix Officials Tweak Labor Contracts to Comply with Court Ruling on Release Time
"They're giving a windfall of vacation time to police officers, who will in turn be able to gift it to the unions to reinstate release time," Bolick says. He added that the judge who heard the case already rejected the argument that the release time was part of the employees compensation package.
Cindy Bezaury, the city's assistant human resources director and labor relations administrator, says that Phoenix has a contractual obligation with the labor groups which grants release time hours to them that were charged against their total compensation package.
"Those hours were taken out of what employees could have received in other employee benefits," she says.
She adds, responding Bolick's comments, that the 6.5 hours each police officer will receive is hardly a windfall. (The city calculated that 15,799 hours represent the amount of unused release time in the PLEA contract. That, divided among the 2,413 police employees, is how they arrive at the 6.5-hour figure.)
In her ruling, Judge Cooper pointed out that the release time is negotiated in the section of the contract titled, "Rights of Association," and wasn't included as part of the employees' compensation.
"The [contract] does not require the City to increase officer salary if release time is enjoined or removed," the judge writes in her court ruling. "Each item of the MOU is negotiated individually, not as a total package offered to [PLEA] with those members being allowed to divide it how they wished."
Negotiations are underway now with the various unions that represent city employees. But the judge ordered the city not to enter into any more contractual agreements involving release time unless they comply with various orders, including:
- Stating in clear language the public benefits that will be derived from specific duties the unions will perform
- Union leaders agreeing to reimburse the city for any union business performed on city time that does not directly benefit the city
- Figure out a way to determine the value of the union activities which the city decides have public benefit and won't be getting reimbursed.
- Prohibit release time used for lobbying or political activities adverse to the city, unless approved by the city manager
The new deal reached between the city and PLEA and LIUNA takes effect on Monday.
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