Unions, Dems fight calendar on contracts | WisCommunity

Unions, Dems fight calendar on contracts

It appears I have done a disservice to Assembly Democrats by suggesting they might hold off on ratifying state employee contracts because they are worried about how many staffers they will have next session.

Fortunately, I picked on a group whose reputation can't be damaged any further, in the wake of the Nov. 2 landslide that made them a small minority.

One report circulating, which was repeated here, is that Dems are leery about calling a special session to approve the new contracts because the new GOP majority has threatened to punish them by reducing Dem staffing levels for next session if they do.

Scott Walker, the governor-elect who can't seem to remember the part after the hyphen, has asked Gov. Jim Doyle and the unions to quit negotiating, even though the contracts expired almost a year and a half ago.

Dems are ready to hold a special session and ratify the contracts, they say, but timing and the calendar are making it difficult. Bargaining isn't finished, and union members must ratify the agreements before the legislature considers them. And finding a December date when enough leggies are willing and able to come to Madison for a day, even for a per diem, might be hard -- but not impossible.

There is a conversation going on about staffing levels for leggies, we're told, but it is not connected to the state employee comtracts.

So, if Doyle and the Democrats in the legislature really want to do it -- and the people at the bargaining table can shift into a higher gear and get their job done -- state workers could have new conracts before the changing of the Capitol guard.

Or not.

One thing's for sure: It is in the state employees' best interests to do it now, before Walker, who thinks public employees are some sort of scourge on society, takes over. There may not be another contract until he's gone.


November 16, 2010 - 3:52pm