- Phoenix Labor Union Targets Former Trustee Who Questioned How Taxpayer Money is Spent

Mark Flatten 
Goldwater Institute 

Natasha Nimer had a simple question: As a trustee in a local labor union representing City of Phoenix employees, did she have a duty to check the books of a taxpayer-funded insurance account it managed?

So she asked the executive board of AFSCME Local 2960. The response was an emphatic “no.”

She dropped the matter and thought it would end there.

She was wrong.

In the months that followed, union officials tried to strip Nimer of her duties as a trustee and steward. They tried twice to force her out of AFSCME, only to have the international headquarters order her reinstated.

Eventually union executives went after Nimer’s job as a civilian employee in the Phoenix Fire Department. They demanded her city phone records, personal and work-related emails, disciplinary files and performance evaluations; even a list of all of the Web sites she had visited. They wanted her computers seized and the hard drives searched for evidence she was doing something wrong.

The insurance fund Nimer asked about is one of many taxpayer-funded benefits worth millions of dollars that Phoenix provides to the seven labor unions that represent city workers with no accountability. The salaries of top union officials are paid by taxpayers. So are other cash benefits paid directly to the unions. Yet the city does not audit union accounts or require union officials to document how the time and money is spent.

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