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State union leader asks Walker for meeting (UPDATE)

By SCOTT BAUER
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The Wisconsin State Employees Union wants state lawmakers to pressure Gov. Scott Walker’s administration to begin negotiating with it over salary increases for 22,000 state workers.

The union sent letters Tuesday to state lawmakers from both parties to follow up on its request made to Walker’s administration on Aug. 18. The union made the letter public on Wednesday.

Under the new collective bargaining law passed this year, public employees retain the right to bargain over wage increases no greater than the rate of inflation. They lost the right to bargain over anything else.

The union’s director, Marty Beil, said that means employees could bargain for raises up to 3.6 percent for the contract period that began in July.

Beil said he’s heard nothing in response from Walker’s administration to either request. Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said the state’s Office of State Employment Relations, which handles contract negotiations, was preparing a response to AFSCME and other bargaining units that made similar requests.

Walker refused to negotiate with the unions even before he unveiled his proposal in February taking away nearly all of their collective bargaining rights. After union leaders agreed to pay more for their pensions and health care benefits, as Walker proposed, he did not negotiate with them on the other parts of the bill, including removal of automatic payment of dues and a requirement that unions vote annually to stay together.

Beil said Walker has shown a willful disregard for negotiation with union leaders.

“He’s chosen not to work with the union that represents the large majority of state employees from the very first day he’s taken office,” Beil said.

Given what little there is to negotiate over — essentially how to determine the Consumer Price Index — talks should take a matter of hours, not weeks or months, Beil said.

If there is no response from Walker, other steps including pressuring state lawmakers and legal action would be considered, Beil said.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

4 comments

  1. ***If there is no response from Walker, other steps including pressuring state lawmakers and legal action would be considered, Beil said.***

    Stop whining. You will get a raise. I did not and have not had a raise fro 4 years. I have had a pay cut for the last 2. My tax dollar supports you, so stop the whining.

  2. Tim, You may not understand that state employees also have not had pay increases for the past 3 years. There is NO guarantee that, as you say, “You will get a raise.” State employees took 3.3% pay decreases of the past 2 state fiscal years and now have effectively taken well over an 8% pay decrease based on the pension and health insurance changes imposed beginning July 2011. Beginning in January 2012 state employees will take another hit when health insurance will include $500/$1000 deductions for health care based on single or family coverage, meaning the employee will have to eat the first $500 or $1000 of healthcare before insurance kicks in, as well as pay ongoing co-pays. This may mean something more like a 12% decrease in employee take home pay. So state employees are ‘whining’ and with good reason. ALL workers in the state should be upset because what happens to the thousands of public employees will happen to private sector workers as well. I just don’t want you to continue to think public employees have had it any better than you. We should all stand together to try to stop the erosion of worker rights, pay and benefits.

  3. Sudsy,

    Are those pay decreases actual hourly wage decreases or a decrease in take home pay due to 1.) higher contributions to medical and the like, or 2.) reduced working days due to furlough? Was the actual hourly pay decreased? (please provide a source)

    Higher contributions for medical insurance are a fact of life for everyone.

    Your pension contribution is not a pay cut. It is an income deferral. No different than someone contributing to a 401k, oh, except yours is guaranteed. Most of us have had our company’s 401k contribution eliminated. Welcome to the club.

    What you fail to see is that the modest contributions being asked of our public employees are things the general public have faced for years.

  4. Sudsy-

    You’ve stood this whole thing on its head by claiming that what happens to public sector workers will roll downhill to the private sector. What planet are you living on? The reason this was enacted to to create a bit more parity between the private sector, which has been experiencing stagnant or declining wages and benefits for years, and the public sector, which has not felt the pains of the private sector, save a few furlough days.

    The difference is the workers in the private sector realize that there is not some magical \bottomless\ bucket of money feeding them. They realize their pay and benefits are limited by what their employer can reasonably pay them given the company’s health and net income. There are many in the private sector who have lost their jobs, had their hours and/or wages cut, and benefits cut just so their company can try to survive.

    We need to stop hearing the \stand together\ and \demand what’s fair\ rhetoric. It’s old.

    It’s time to grow up and make decisions like a group of adults, instead of having unruly crowds trying to cajole, \shame\, or otherwise just annoy people into finally giving in to their demands. I’m sure the governor is busy trying to plug the dike and put the state’s financial house back in order before he can assess whether there is money for a raise.

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