Failed recall in Wisconsin could affect labor unions in Arizona

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- A day after the union busting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker fought off a recall election, one of the most influential conservative think-tanks in Arizona said it’s renewing its attacks on organized labor here.

Officials with the Goldwater Institute said Wednesday that Walker’s win gives them added confidence they can succeeded in curtailing what they believe is too much union influence in Arizona.

“If in a place like Wisconsin, which is the birthplace of collective bargaining for government unions, they can twice elect a governor that says they are going to end this practice that started here, there’s no reason Arizona politicians have to worry about that,” said Starlee Rhoades, the executive vice president of the Goldwater Institute.

Goldwater was the driving force behind a package of proposed laws at the state Capitol this year that would have potentially devastated organized labor and state employee unions in the Grand Canyon State.

The bills never passed but did manage to grab national headlines. Taken together, all three bills would have banned collective bargaining and other mechanisms for public employee unions.

Democrats and labor groups fought back against the bills, calling them attacks on worker’s families. However, Goldwater did win a temporary victory Wednesday in the courts where it failed in the Legislature.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge on Tuesday temporary stopped local, county and state governments from paying police officers for union work. Goldwater, last year, had issued a scathing report on taxpayer money that’s used to pay union officials. That led to SB 1486, which would have outlawed that practice.

Word of Goldwater’s renewed efforts to pass the union bills next year prompted a harsh response from local labor leaders like Roman Ulman, the spokesman for the public employee group AFSME.

“It’s regrettable that Goldwater has sold out to outside interest and corporate raiders,” Ulman said Wednesday. “They’re supposed to be serving the public’s interests.”

As Goldwater and the GOP-controlled legislature tried pushing the measures through the legislature, Gov. Jan Brewer appeared lukewarm to idea by saying very little about an anti-union movement that has been front and center for Republicans, like Walker, nationwide.

In fact, the effort to recall Walker, a Republican, was led by organized labor and Democrats. The first term governor this year stripped away collective bargaining for state workers in his state.

Although the election happened thousands of miles away from Arizona, big named Republicans like Brewer were celebrating the electoral victory. Moments after the election was decided Brewer was on Facebook.

“Congratulations to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker on tonight’s victory! A victory against President Obama’s policies, labor unions and the liberal media,” Brewer posted on her Facebook page Tuesday night. “Next up this month: Defeating ObamaCare and defeating President Obama’s lawsuit against SB 1070 in the US Supreme Court.”