Union-covered Wis. workers to get 1 percent raise
- Article by: SCOTT BAUER
- Associated Press
- December 16, 2013 - 4:30 PM
MADISON, Wis. — Five groups of unionized state workers that negotiated their pay raises with Gov. Scott Walker's administration are poised to receive the same 1 percent raise that non-union workers got in July.
A legislative committee scheduled a Thursday meeting to approve the five contracts, which cover about 2,400 workers. Once passed by the Joint Committee on Employment Relations, the contracts have to be approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature. The soonest that is likely to happen is next month. The raises would be retroactive to June 30.
Non-union state workers, the vast majority of the 69,000 state employees, received a 1 percent raise under the budget that took effect in July. Raises negotiated by these five smaller units have not taken effect because lawmakers haven't yet voted to approve the contracts.
Union leaders and Democrats have complained that Republicans and Walker's administration stalled voting on the tentative deals. A spokeswoman for Walker's Department of Administration, Stephanie Marquis, said in an email that normal protocol was followed.
The Office of State Employment Relations hoped to have a sixth contract ready for a vote by the end of this year, but once it became clear that wouldn't happen the meeting was scheduled for Thursday, Marquis said.
Negotiations are continuing with three bargaining units, she said. Those are the Association of State Prosecutors, the Wisconsin Association for Correctional Law Enforcement and the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association.
Republicans control the eight-member committee that will vote on the agreements for the five unions. The two Republican co-chairs, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate President Mike Ellis, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
Most bargaining units decided not to negotiate since the 2011 law known as Act 10, introduced by Walker and passed by the Republican Legislature, limited bargaining just to base pay increases no greater than inflation. The law also required the bargaining units to annually obtain 51 percent approval of all members — not just a simple majority of those who vote — for the right to negotiate for cost of living pay raises.
Given their diminished ability to negotiate, state employee bargaining units representing the majority of workers did not take the necessary steps to recertify.
The 1 percent pay raise for non-union workers, which applied to most state and University of Wisconsin workers, is for this fiscal year and next. The contracts up for a vote Thursday cover the current fiscal year only.
The raise is the first for most workers in at least four years.
The five unions represent those in the professional legal collective bargaining unit, the professional education unit, the professional patient care unit, building trade crafts unit and the professional research, statistics and analysis unit.
© 2014 Star Tribune