Huff Post – First Posted: 02/ 2/2012 1:25 pm Updated: 02/ 2/2012 5:09 pm
By- John Celock
Arizona could become the next Wisconsin as plans for protests, Capitol sit-ins and a potential effort to recall the governor get underway in an effort by progressives to block the passage of sweeping legislation to ban collective bargaining.
State Democrats and union leaders said that plans are in place to launch Wisconsin-style measures in an effort to block the collective bargaining ban measures currently headed to a vote in the Republican-dominated Senate. Among the plans being considered are rallying large groups of public employees around the Capitol complex in Phoenix, lobbying moderate Republican legislators and potentially exploring a recall campaign against Gov. Jan Brewer (R). With Republicans’ large majorities in both legislative chambers, Democrats believe rallies and public pressure may be the only way to block the passage of the bills.
“You may wake the sleeping giant of Arizona, between attacks on the schools, unions and the Latino population,” state House Minority Leader Chad Campbell (D-Phoenix) said.
Republican lawmakers have proposed bills that would prohibit all public employees — including police and fire personnel — from collectively bargaining, ban the automatic deduction of union dues for public employees and prohibit the compensation of public employees for work done with the union. The bills were approved by the Senate’s government relations committee Wednesday.
“These bills are an all-out assault on workers and the middle class,” said Senate Minority Leader David Schapira (D-Tempe).
Arizona AFL-CIO Executive Director Rebekah Friend said the unions are currently planning the rallies, but did not give a timeframe for when the events would actually take place. She said the labor movement was prepared for the payroll deduction bill and Brewer’s previous announcements on collective bargaining, but were surprised by the scope of the current bills, including the addition of public safety workers.
“They over-reached this time,” Friend said of the state’s Republican leadership. “The people who have been their friends are against them.”