The New Bargaining Law and Its Impact on You

UPDATE:

On March 18, a Dane County Circuit Court judge granted a temporary restraining order blocking the publication of this collective bargaining bill. Due to this development, the implementation of this law has been put on hold, and the effective dates herein do not immediately apply. Please check this page frequently for additional updates.

Governor Walker recently signed legislation into law that drastically eviscerates Wisconsin’s collective bargaining statutes. Despite the numerous detrimental changes to the collective bargaining laws, the WPPA is ready to defend your rights and fight to regain those that have been wrongfully taken from you. More information on our strategic plan will be forthcoming.

First, it’s important to clearly understand what precisely this new law, which exempts law enforcement officers, will do.

THE NEW LAW AND ITS IMPACT ON YOU

The key statutory changes, which take effect on April 1, will impact the non-law enforcement officer public employees in the following ways:

Members Not Covered Under a Current Contract:

  • Your contribution to the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) will be set at 5.8% of your pay, and you will have to pick up 12.6% of the cost of the premium of any health insurance plan in the State Health Plan.  Both your participation in the WRS and health insurance premium will become prohibited subjects of bargaining, as will your health insurance benefit level.
  • Any future increases in wages will be limited to increases in the Consumer Price Index, which is a measure estimating the average price of consumer goods and services.  Larger wage increases could only be achieved upon approval of local voters through a referendum.
  • Wage issues such as lanes, steps, scales, and overtime will no longer be mandatory subjects of collective bargaining.  It appears that the same is true with respect to the rules regarding non-economic terms within contracts, such as sick leave, vacation, etc.
  • Contracts will be limited to one year in duration and extensions will not be permitted.
  • Local governments will be required to establish a civil service system to establish a grievance process that addresses terminations, discipline, and workplace safety.  This process will include a hearing before an impartial hearing officers and an appeal process to the final governing body of the public employer.
  • “Fair share” (union dues equivalent fair share amounts) would be eliminated, and your employer will be prohibited from deducting union dues or fair share payments.
  • Mediation and arbitration proceedings to settle grievances and contractual disputes over wages, hours, and conditions of employment will no longer be available.
  • Beginning in early 2012, your local union will have to undergo the first of what will be annual certification elections that are administered by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) to maintain your status as a bargaining unit.  In order to successfully do so, 51% of the entire membership of your local (as opposed to those voting) must affirmatively vote for the union and the representation that it provides.
  • If 51% of your membership does not vote in favor of the union, you will have no collective representation and you will lose any protections and benefits provided by your contract.

Members Covered Under A Contract:

  • Beginning in early 2012, if you are in the last year of your contract, your local union will have to undergo the first of what will be annual certification elections that are administered by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) to maintain your status as a bargaining unit.  In order to successfully do so, 51% of the entire membership of your local (as opposed to those voting) must affirmatively vote for the union and the representation that it provides.
  • If 51% of your membership does not vote in favor of the union, you will have no collective representation and you will lose any protections and benefits provided by your contract.
  • As long as you are covered under an unexpired contract, the provisions listed above will not apply to you.
  • Once your contract expires, all of the provisions listed above will apply to you.

Non-Supervisory Law Enforcement Officers:

  • Law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and state patrol officers and inspectors are exempted from the bill, meaning that its provisions do not apply to them.

Supervisory Law Enforcement Officers AND Officer Serving Municipalities with a Population of Less Than 2,500:

  • Supervisory law enforcement personnel covered under a current collective bargaining agreement are exempt and should not have to immediately pay the WRS and health insurance premium contributions. If and when the law expires, the law has not changed. If the employer has recognized the unit, they are still required to bargain, however after having met that burden, the employer can implement the changes since these law enforcement employees do not have access to binding arbitration.

More information on how the WPPA will represent its members impacted by this new law will be coming soon.  Please feel free to contact WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer by e-mail at palmer@wppa.com with questions.

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