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Ruling OKs 'release time' for public employees' union work

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Posted at 12:17 PM, Sep 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-13 15:17:23-04

An Arizona Supreme Court ruling says public employees can be paid public money for work for their union.

The 3-2 decision Tuesday says Phoenix's agreement with its police union for paid "release time" doesn't violate a state constitutional provision barring public entities from making gifts or donations to benefit private individuals, associations or companies.

The majority's opinion says Phoenix demonstrated that release time included in the city's labor agreement with the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association both has a public purpose and provides the city enough benefits in return.

Two justices' dissent says the release time is an unconstitutional gift of public money that subsidizes the union without benefiting the public.

The Goldwater Institute had sued Phoenix over release time for police. It called the ruling a loss for taxpayers.