What the Walker Bill Really Says
Few people have had a chance to read the so-called “budget repair bill” that was released by Governor Scott Walker on February 11. The devil is in the details, and they are horrendous.
The pro-union law firm of Hawks and Quindel took the bill apart and offered the following summary of the language relating to collective bargaining. The proposed law would:
Ban virtually all collective bargaining for state, county, municipal and school employees. The agency employers and school boards could only negotiate over “base wages.” Things like health insurance, pensions, vacation, holidays, hours of work and any other condition of employment, including grievance and arbitration procedures and “just cause,” would be “prohibited subjects of bargaining.”
Eliminate collective bargaining rights entirely for child care providers, home health care providers and employees of UW Hospital and Clinics.
Eliminate grievance and contract arbitration procedures for state, county, municipal and school employees. Grievances over “just cause” in cases of discharge, suspension and demotion only would be covered by statute. But those provisions are weaker than those contained in collective bargaining agreements and would cover fewer workers.
Require annual decertification elections for most state, county, municipal and school employee unions. A decertification election would have to be held every year to determine whether a majority of the people in each bargaining unit supports the union. A majority of the employees in the unit (as opposed to a majority of those voting) would have to agree to continue recognition of the union.
Require unions to pay a fee to cover the cost of holding annual decertification elections.
Terms of contracts would be limited to one year.
Agencies and school board employers from collecting dues for most “fair share” employees. The bill would continue fair share agreements and dues deductions only for members of the state patrol and motor vehicle inspectors, however.
Require half of contributions to the Wisconsin Retirement System to come from employees’ paychecks.
Ban limited term employees from participating in the State’s group health insurance program.
Increase out-of-pocket health insurance costs for most state, county and municipal employees. In addition, the employer have the sole authority to set the amount paid for health insurance for part-time employees and UW Teaching Assistants and graduate assistants.
The proposed bill also orders a number of studies to find ways of cutting back on retirement benefits, health care coverage and establishing “health saving accounts” for public employees as an alternative to employer-provided health insurance.
And, of course, the bill also includes many draconian cuts to programs such as public education and Medicaid.