Madison, public employees consider new contract
MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The city of Madison could save $2 million under a proposed contract with its largest municipal employees union that is set to go before the workers and City Council this week.
The deal was made possible after a Dane County judge this month put portions of the state’s controversial public employee collective bargaining law on hold, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Sunday.
The 2011 law, championed by Gov. Scott Walker and his allies, virtually eliminated collective bargaining rights for most public employees. The court recently declared parts of the law unconstitutional. The appeals fight is likely to take weeks, giving governments and unions time to negotiate new contracts if they choose.
Mayor Paul Soglin said the tentative agreement between the city and AFSCME Local 60, which represents about 1,100 workers, would let the city reduce wages or health benefits by up to 3 percent, saving about $2 million. It would run from March 2014 to March 2015. The union and city were already operating on a three-year deal that runs through March 2014, rushed through during an earlier court challenge to the law.
Employees would get security because the contract would prevent further cuts and preserve union rights that the state law would take away, such as grievance arbitration, AFSCME Local 60 staff representative Jennifer McCulley said.
“What we got out of it was the security of having everything in place for one more year,” McCulley said.
McCulley said the union will vote on it Tuesday. The council is tentatively set to consider it Thursday, Soglin said.
The city plans to talk with other unions about similar deals, the mayor said.
The Dane County Board on Thursday approved agreements to keep most of its unions alive through 2015.
Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj
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