Goldwater Sues City of Phoenix for Hiding Union Records from the Public• by GOLDWATER INSTITUTE
Today, the Goldwater Institute sued the city to bring these public records to light.
If you care about transparency, these latest rounds of negotiations got off on the wrong foot. Before negotiations with the city commence under Phoenix's "Meet and Confer" ordinance, public-sector unions are required by city code to submit draft contract proposals for public comment. Despite following this protocol in the past, the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA)—the union that represents most of the city's police officers—decided to ignore the legal requirement this time around. By doing so, the union prevented the public from providing input on its proposals before the start of negotiations. The city acknowledged that the union's refusal to provide a public draft of its contract proposals violated city code, but then did nothing to hold the union accountable for taking away the public's seat at the table.
"The public's business should be done in public, not behind closed doors," says Goldwater Institute Staff Attorney Parker Jackson, lead attorney on the case. "The city of Phoenix has a duty to comply with state law—and the city's own code—so that residents can find out what their government is up to."
After Phoenix agreed to proceed behind closed doors, the Goldwater Institute stepped in and requested records relating to the negotiations, including any draft agreements and proposals received or created by the city. First, the city claimed that no draft agreements or draft proposals existed. Then, when Goldwater asked for the information again, the city denied the request, claiming that releasing such records "would hinder the negotiations process." The city later said that it had at least some of the requested records but claimed that disclosing them "would harm the best interest of the City."