Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Milwaukee County Bargaining Bulletin

I received this today from AFSCME District Council 48:

From District Council 48:

September 29, 2009

As you know, the members of D.C. 48 AFSCME, AFL-CIO voted to accept the Tentative Agreement with Milwaukee County on September 22, 2009. The County Board’s Committees on Personnel and Finance and Audit held a joint committee meeting on September 23, 2009 and recommended adoption of the T. A. by the full Board at the Board’s meeting on September 24, 2009.

The Tentative Agreement calls for a two year agreement (2009-2010) with an increase in employee contribution to health care premiums and cost-sharing as well as a zero wage increase for each year of the contract. In exchange, the County would not lay off or privatize work of the bargaining unit and would limit furloughs to thirty hours.

The County Board acted on September 24, 2009 to lay over the Tentative Agreement until their next regularly scheduled meeting on November 5, 2009. On this same date, the County Executive introduced his budget to the full Board, calling for wide-spread privatization of our jobs, massive layoffs, and a series of take-aways. Included in these take-aways was a 3% reduction in wages, a termination of step increases, a major increase in the cost-sharing of health insurance premiums, a mandatory 5% contribution from employees to their pensions, and a modification in overtime pay to eliminate the provision for overtime after 8 hours a day and only include overtime after 40 hours a week. What made these proposals more outrageous was the fact that they have never been proposed to the UNION across the table. This is like negotiating the purchase of a house only to find out at the closing that the seller is demanding you pay for their moving company, their first month’s mortgage payment at the seller’s new residence, and that after the closing you can only occupy the first floor until the seller decides it is okay to use the basement and second floor of the home you now own.

The fact that the budget deliberations on this politically-loaded proposed budget will take place without the full Board’s action on the Tentative Agreement renders the terms of the T. A. potentially moot.

The frustrating part of the Board’s actions was the fact that a motion to lay over takes 1/3 of the Board Members who are present and was supported by members who serve on the Personnel and/or Finance and Audit Committees who had voted to recommend adoption by the full Board.

We all know that Walker is more concerned about his own political future than the future of Milwaukee County. As a college dropout, who has always been an elected public employee (except for a few months’ stint at the Red Cross), Walker’s agenda is transparent. He will use whatever political pandering he can to ensure his success. Credibility and integrity have no role in Walker’s political persona. Thus, the budget is balanced on the backs of the lowest paid employees, and at risk of services to the most vulnerable.

We can only hope that the collective conscience of the Board will mitigate the erosion of governmental and social responsibility.

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