Decker: lame-duck legislature will vote on union contracts

At least legislative Democrats have some semblance of a spine…

“I think we’ve got pretty good support in the Senate,” Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, a Democrat from Wausau, said of the contracts. “They’re very tight. I think public employees realize they’re going to have to bite the bullet and live for another day.”

Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan (D-Janesville) said Assembly Democrats “would make every effort to get this done.” Both Sheridan and Decker are former blue-collar union workers who lost their seats in the Nov. 2 election.

It will be interesting to see if the agreement can be finalized and then voted on by union members in a timely enough fashion to allow legislators to meet and approve the contracts before Republicans take control of the legislature.

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16 thoughts on “Decker: lame-duck legislature will vote on union contracts

    1. I’d love to hear you tell me how a contract that includes a ZERO percent pay raise for employees is bad for taxpayers. When furloughs are factored in, this amounts to a #5 pay cut for employees.

      What’s more, let’s not forget the contracts we’re talking about cover the period from July 2009 to June 2011, so it’s not as if these negotiations are for a future contract.

      1. While I’m generally on the side of thinking it’s a good thing that this is getting done, and that on the surface, it looks reasonable, seem to be oversimplifying things a bit here Zach.

        You seem to be saying that because the contract has no increases, that in and of itself means that there can’t be anything questionable in it. That is but one aspect of the contract, correct? There are probably hundreds of other elements spelled out in the contract – many of which could make the overall freeze less consequential.

        1. Unless I have the wrong information, the contracts contain a pay freeze, increased health insurance premiums, and no increases in the number of vacation/personal days for employees. You’re right that there’s no shortage of other elements in the contract, but those are the main areas of financial concern within any contract.

          I’ll grant you there might be stuff in the contracts that someone somewhere finds questionable, but the point I was trying to make is that by and large the main economic issues within the contracts shouldn’t result in taxpayers having to shell out any more money than has already been paid out to employees already.

          1. I suspected you’d know quite a bit more about the details than me. Which was why it surprised me to see you over-simplify it.

            Again, I’m not saying there a bunch of “bad” stuff in the proposed contract – only that one aspect of it (clearly the most significant) isn’t the only issue. Much like the ads for cheaper mortgage rates, but once you actually see the APR it’s a different story.

            1. Locke, my attempt to over-simplify the contract was simply an attempt to get to the core economic issues within the contracts that typically have the most impact on taxpayers, those being health care costs, employee salaries, leave time, and pensions. I realize I forgot to mention pensions in my earlier post, which wasn’t intentional, but as to your point that there could be stuff within the contract that negates the pay freeze and insurance premium increases, I simply don’t know everything that’s in the contracts, so I’ll grant your point that there could be something somewhere within the contracts that negates the pay freeze and increased premiums, but if there is, I’m simply not aware of it.

  1. And why couldn’t they get it done before the election? If they really had a spine that’s what they would have done.

    1. Because the contracts had not been approved by the members at that point. All these contracts have been ready for a vote only in the last month or so.

      1. Haven’t they been working for 18 months or something without a contract? What’s the holdup?

        1. Well, these contracts are pretty extensive, covering economic and non-economic issues, and depending what both sides bring the table as far as issues to be negotiated, things can drag on.

          1. I see. And as you mentioned above, these contracts when signed only run through June 2011, so then it starts all over again. I don’t know a lot about the process or its history, so I was just wondering if it was typical for them always to run behind this much or not.

            1. As long as I’ve been a state employee it’s been that way….I can’t recall the last time a contract was finished in time.

    2. But again, I think it’s worth noting…it really seems pretty likely that the incoming administration and presumed less favorable, more hard-lined stance on the negotiations has played/is playing a part in getting an agreement reached before January. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying any sort of credit is due.

      It’s amazing how rare it’s become for these sorts of labor negotiations to be done until the very last minute – at the earliest. Without the imminent pressure of a work stoppage, do they ever get done? I’m looking at you, NFL. 🙁

      1. You raise a valid point….no doubt the fact that Scott Walker won the election lit a fire under the parties involved to get bargaining wrapped up, because it’s highly likely that if things hadn’t been wrapped up before Republicans take over, we’ll continue to work without a contract for years to come, because negotiations will go back to square one.

  2. Governor Elect Walker has a history of budgeting labor concessions without ever bargaining…why would he be concerned if Governor Doyle gets the contracts done or not?

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