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Judge blocks Phoenix police from paying officers for union work

Sen. Murphy: Ruling shows SB 1486 was right idea

A Maricopa Superior Court judge Tuesday ruled the City of Phoenix and the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association can’t spend taxpayer money to pay officers for union work, instead of law enforcement duties. A contract agreed to by Phoenix and PLEA allows more than one million dollars to be spent for six police officers to do union work instead of traditional law enforcement.

Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper ruled the so-called release time is likely a violation of Arizona’s gift clause, because it is not for a public purpose, but instead serves the private interests of PLEA.

Today’s ruling is vindication for Senate Bill 1486, sponsored by Senator Rick Murphy. That bill prohibited a public employer from compensating a public employee for non duty-related union activities. Instead of agreeing to reasonable restrictions, the unions gambled on an all-or-nothing approach, and with this ruling, they have nothing.

“Judge Cooper made the proper decision, and we are going to see the end of release time in our state,” says Senator Murphy. “Taxpayers expect our great men and women in blue to protect and serve, not lobby for legislation that benefits the union.”

SB 1486 passed comfortably in the Senate in February, but died in the House of Representatives when House leadership blocked the bill from going to the floor.

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