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Walker proposes pay raise for state, UW workers

  • Article by: SCOTT BAUER
  • Associated Press
  • June 25, 2013 - 4:45 PM

MADISON, Wis. — Most Wisconsin state workers and employees at the University of Wisconsin System would receive pay raises of 1 percent in each of the next two years, under a plan Gov. Scott Walker's administration released on Tuesday.

The proposal from Walker's Office of State Employment Relations is subject to approval by a legislative committee on Wednesday. The pay raises, which would be the first in five years for most workers, would take effect Sunday and show up on July 25 paychecks. The last raise for most formerly union-covered workers was four years ago.

State workers used to negotiate salary increases as part of the collective bargaining process with the governor's administration. Walker effectively did away with collective bargaining for most public workers in 2011, leaving it to his administration to set the pay plans covering wage increases and other terms of employment.

In 2011, the first year with no collective bargaining, state workers got no across-the-board pay increase, but state agencies were given more flexibility to award bonus and merit pay.

"Because we made tough, but prudent, decisions over the last two years, we are now able to invest in our priorities," Walker said in a statement. "This includes an investment in Wisconsin's state employees."

But Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca, who is on the committee that will vote on the plan Wednesday, decried the lack of employee input on the pay raise plan.

"And state employees still have no voice as far as workplace safety, working conditions or even on their organization's effectiveness," Barca said in a statement. "Special interests continue to have a privileged seat at the table while middle-class families are not even invited."

The eight-member committee that will vote on the plan is controlled by Republicans. The two Republican co-chairs, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate President Mike Ellis, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

University faculty, staff and other employees haven't received a raise since 2008, when they got a 1 percent bump. The Board of Regents earlier this month voted to ask that UW's raise be the same as what state workers receive, which is what the Walker plan calls for.

"We're happy we're getting what the regents asked for which is the same treatment as other state employees," said UW spokesman David Giroux. "There don't appear to be any big surprises."

Under Walker's plan, the 1 percent raise at UW could be used to give faculty and academic staff across-the-board raises, or more targeted merit pay raises or increases targeted to retain highly valued workers.

The state plan calls for the 1 percent raise to be applied across-the-board.

The proposal also allows for an additional increase of 25 cents per hour for state and UW employees whose base rate is below $15 an hour.

The two-year cost of paying for the UW faculty salary increases would be $52.4 million. The cost for the state plan, which includes some UW workers, would be $90.2 million. The state portion for both plans, about $65 million, was included in the state budget passed last week by the Legislature that Walker plans to sign before Monday.

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