Are Gov. Walker's Concessions Enough For Wisconsin Democrats?
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s office released a series of emails on Tuesday that reveal under the table discussions between the governor's aides and the state’s absent Democratic senators over his public union bargaining bill.
The emails were obtain vis-à-vis an open records request by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Patrick Marley and published shortly afterwards.
“I think the fact that we’ve found that there were some negotiations occurring in earnest is important,” Marley said. “Although it’s not imminent that the Democrats will find their way back to Wisconsin, this proves that it is a possibility.”
Walker’s public employee bill would repeal most of the collective bargaining rights for public employees in an effot to combat the state's $3.6 billion deficit.
Senate Democrats have set up camp in Illinois since Feb. 17, after leaving Wisconsin to block a vote on Walker's budget-repair bill.
In a concerted effort to reel senate Democrats back to Madison, Republican governor’s aides and two of the absent Senators - Bob Jauch and Tim Cullen (D) – engaged in a series of ideas and counteroffers over the weekend.
The back and forth emails can be found here.
The points below were put together by the Journal Sentinel and summarize Walker's major concessions:
- The bill would no longer seek to limit public employee union bargaining over wages to the rate of inflation.
- The bill would allow union bargaining over certain economic issues, including mandatory overtime, performance bonuses, hazardous duty pay and classroom size. On these issues, both labor and management would have to agree to discuss them for bargaining to happen.
- The bill would allow bargaining over workplace safety.
- Union contracts for public employees would be limited to a one or two-year period.
- Unions would have to vote every three years to remain active and not every year.
- Employees of UW Hospital and Clinics Authority would not lose all union bargaining rights.
- The Legislature’s budget committee would explicitly have to approve changes to state health programs for the poor sought by the Walker administration. The budget repair bill gives Walker broad powers to reshape those Medicaid health programs.
Marley said it’s unclear which of the proposed concessions will actually be part of a future compromise.
“They are all touching on issues really important to unions, but they still hate this bill,” Walker said. “There is a lot in this that they don’t like. This email is 48 hours old and no one is talking about them coming back yet.”
For more on Neon Tommy's coverage of the Wisconsin labor dispute, click here.
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