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Judicial Watch • JW Probe Ends Free Labor Union Ads on City Vehicles

JW Probe Ends Free Labor Union Ads on City Vehicles

JW Probe Ends Free Labor Union Ads on City Vehicles

JULY 21, 2015

A major U.S. city will finally stop giving a markedly leftist, politically-oriented national labor union free advertisement on the side of taxpayer-funded vehicles thanks to Judicial Watch.

The illegal arrangement has been going on for years in Phoenix, the nation’s sixth-largest city and Arizona’s biggest. Vehicles in the city’s fire department have long sported the logo of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO), the largest conglomerate of unions in the U.S. representing 12.5 million “working people in every walk of life.” The AFL-CIO is notorious for being politically active and spending huge sums to back mainly liberal candidates and issues.

In fact, the AFL-CIO brags about its political activism on its website, writing: “As part of the process, the AFL-CIO Executive Board will take a proactive approach by discussing and potentially identifying a pro-worker presidential candidate and encouraging such a candidate to run for the president in the 2016 election.” This makes the illicit arrangement with the Phoenix Fire Department (PFD) all the more outrageous because it has come at taxpayer expense with no benefit to the city or the public. The AFL-CIO, in turn, has had access to, and benefited from, a long standing advertising practice that’s afforded to no other entity.

When Judicial Watch learned about the shady deal it launched an investigation and fired off a public records request to Phoenix City Manager Ed Zuercher. The inquiry, dated April 1, 2015, included photos of the labor union logo on city fire vehicles and asked for contractual agreements, policies, regulations, ordinances, fee schedules and restrictions related to the display of names or logos of non-governmental entities on PFD service vehicles. JW also asked for records that identify other city service vehicles that are authorized to display names or logos of non-governmental entities and the procedures for them to request or purchase the display of its logos on city service vehicles.

JW never received answers to those questions, but was verbally assured by Phoenix city officials that the AFL-CIO logos would be yanked from PFD vehicles. JW subsequently obtained a memo issued by Phoenix Assistant City Manager Milton Dohoney, Jr. to Phoenix Fire Chief Kara Kalkbrenner asking that the labor union logos be removed from all department equipment as soon as reasonably possible and no later than within the next 3-4 months. “There is no contractual relationship that legitimizes the display” of the logos on fire vehicles, the assistant city manager tells the fire chief, adding that it “may constitute a violation of Arizona laws.”

It appears that there never was any formal procedure in place to grant the AFL-CIO free ad space on public vehicles in Phoenix. Based on the information JW has gathered, it’s reasonable to conclude that this is an example of a back-room deal between liberal mayors, enamored city council members and the longtime power of the AFL-CIO on the political arena. After all, how is it possible that a city manager, which serves as the crucial chief executive of a municipality’s government, not know what’s on his fire trucks? If JW didn’t investigate this matter, the powerful leftwing labor conglomerate would continue receiving free taxpayer-funded advertisement from the city of Phoenix.

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