AZ AFL-CIO Files Federal Lawsuit To Prevent New Union Mandates

By Heather van Blokland
Published: Wednesday, September 22, 2021 - 6:34pm
Updated: Thursday, September 23, 2021 - 8:22am

On Tuesday, a new law goes into effect imposing certain mandates on how labor unions in Arizona can operate. Arizona union organizers have filed suit to prevent the law from being implemented. 

Senate Bill 1268, places a series of additional reporting requirements on private-sector labor unions — forcing unions to disclose details of revenues and expenditures collected by the union, breakdowns of costs paid per member for health care benefits and expenses paid for pensions, vacation and sick leave and other expenses — information that is already available according to Fred Yamashita, executive director of Arizona AFL-CIO. 

“This bill creates burdensome, costly, administrative requirements on labor organizations with no additional benefit to the public,” he said. Yamashita also said the bill itself violates the United States Constitution and the Arizona Constitution by requiring private-sector unions to allow members to obtain their own health plan instead of using the one the union provides. 

“One of the components allowing individual members or individual employees to negotiate separately, outside of the contract that the union does negotiate for all of those covered employees, would minimize and diminish and undermine the whole collective bargaining process — which is the reason why most people join unions to begin with — to give themselves that voice in the workplace, the strength of a collective process, with other employees and union members that are trying to negotiate those very benefits.” he said. 

The Arizona AFL-CIO is in the process of filing an injunction to prevent the bill from being implemented until a federal court hears the case. Similar Arizona bills passed in previous years were struck down in federal court. 

Arizona insurance company owner Jack Biltis represented the bill at an Arizona House Commerce Committee hearing in March. “As a business and as someone who has both received and handed out paychecks, my employees, both because of laws and requirements and because it’s the right thing to do, they know their insurance costs $428.73,” he said.

Biltis said union employees do not know what they pay for insurance or what an employer pays on behalf of an employee. He said reporting transparency should be the same for union workers as it is for his employees. “They know what I’m contributing. They know what they’re contributing. They know what their deduction is. They decide if they think my insurance is too expensive and they can get a better deal elsewhere, they can go on their wife’s plan," Biltis said. 

SB 1268 also prevents a union from collecting dues from employees who have not voluntarily joined the union, and provides a private right of action for aggrieved employees who have had dues collected from their paychecks without their consent.

SB 1268 is currently scheduled to become effective on Sept. 28. The United Food & Commercial Workers Local 99 and Arizona State AFL-CIO have filed a lawsuit in federal district court attempting to block SB 1268. In addition to the other claims, the lawsuit also argues  that SB 1268 is invalid — and preempted by federal laws, including the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and the National Labor Relations Act.