Public employee union (gasp!) talked with Milwaukee County about getting same pay raise as non-union employees | WisCommunity

Public employee union (gasp!) talked with Milwaukee County about getting same pay raise as non-union employees

Okay, it's official. Wisconsin is now a political Wonderland, where illogic and craziness reign supreme.

The lead, page-one story in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provides the evidence, in an oversized headline: AFSCME District Council 48 allegedly negotiated a contract in secret with Milwaukee County! Shocking! Say County Executive Chris Abele and other conservatives, that's just plain illegal! Because, Scott Walker's union-busting Act 10 caused the union local to become "decertified."

Never mind court decisions that, at least for now, permit formal contract negotiations. Circuit Judge Juan Colás sided with unions last fall, striking down portions of the law as unconstitutional. The law allowed unions representing police, firefighters and state troopers to continue collective bargaining as usual, but banned other public employee unions from negotiating over anything but wages, limited any negotiated increases to the rate of inflation unless voters approved higher raises in a referendum. The judge overturned that ban and the state's attempt to stay the effects of his  ruling were rejected.

So, unless and until a higher court disagrees -- public workers can lawfully negotiate over a wide range of issues, such as workplace safety, without limits on raises. And, indeed, a number of unions representing public school teachers have done just that.

No one freaked out over that. But the story is different with respect to Milwaukee County government, where Republicans fresh from their effort to gut public employeer unions are in the midst of cutting  the power of the county board of supervisors. So this news is red meat to the state's conservative authoritarians and to County Executive Abele. He portrays himself as a moderate if not progressive, but evidently is quite willing to go along with local business leaders and the GOP in undermining the board and thus democracy, since that will bolster one-man rule and give him far more power to run the state's largest county.

And this was really just a  tempest in a teapot, anyway. To begin with, not everyone agrees that formal contract talks have been underway -- not that this is even a legal issue. Worse, the talks (informal or otherwise) reportedly focused on the issue of giving District Council 48 members who work for the county a 1.5 percent raise. Miserly, and, as it happens, the same amount non-unionized county workers are getting, without lifting a finger!

Much ado about nothing, in short. But Walker and the GOP legislative delegation will see red, for sure. To them it will be further proof the Milwaukee County Board needs to be neutralized, just like labor unions. After all, unlike the way conservatives regard corporations, unions in their view are not people and thus deserve no rights.

How dare anyone in Milwaukee reject the power and majesty of statewide Republicans who pretend they're fixing government -- but who really are just trying to amass more power by dismantling it.  Kneel before Zod!



April 23, 2013 - 11:29am