OCTOBER 14, 2021 – United Food & Commercial Workers Local 99 and the Arizona State AFL-CIO have forced Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich to concede that they will not enforce a blatantly unconstitutional law seeking to regulate Arizona’s labor unions and interfere with unionized workers’ health benefits and pensions.
On October 12, 2021, federal court judge Diane J. Humetawa entered an order prohibiting Governor Ducey, Attorney General Brnovich, and Arizona’s Industrial Commission from enforcing SB 1268. The Legislature adopted SB 1268—and Governor Ducey signed it—in the last legislative session, despite unions’ pointing out that the law is impermissible under federal law.
SB 1268 would impose new regulations on labor-management benefit plans that would threaten the viability of union members’ health insurance and pensions. Among other things, the law purports to require employers to cease making contributions to employees’ collectively bargained pension and health-care plans, even when the employer is bound by contract to do so. SB 1268’s irrational rules for these benefit plans led major Arizona grocery employers to weigh in against SB 1268’s enforcement.
The law also regulates labor unions’ access ability to collect dues from members who have voluntarily chosen to join the union. SB 1268 conflicts with the exclusive federal laws regulating workplace benefits and unions’ relations with their members—the Employee Retirement and Income Security Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and the Labor Management Relations Act—and violates the Constitution.
Faced with UFCW Local 99’s and the Arizona State AFL-CIO’s motion for an injunction, Governor Ducey and Attorney General Brnovich conceded that they would not seek to enforce SB 1268 while the federal court decides whether to permanently prohibit SB 1268’s enforcement. The law is certain to be held unconstitutional, as was the Legislature’s attempt to create onerous special regulations for labor unions in 2011 (SB 1363 and SB 1365). In the meantime, Arizona taxpayers are forced to foot the bill for defending SB 1268, and may be required to pay the unions’ attorneys’ fees when the unions ultimately prevail.
“The federal court’s injunction order leaves no doubt that this misguided law will be struck down as unconstitutional,” stated UFCW Local 99 President Jim McLaughlin. “We warned the Governor and the Legislature last Spring that this law was both illegal and unnecessary. But they plowed ahead, and that decision will ultimately cost Arizona taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, if not more.”