Madison – State Senator Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) released the following statement today announcing that he is drafting legislation to remove the undue preferential treatment police andfirefighter unions have received under changes to laws governing collective bargaining for public workers in Wisconsin.
“A bill enacted in the last legislative session called ‘Act 10’ split public employees into two separate classes. The first class was police and fire unions, who retained all the rights that public workers had earned in Wisconsin over the last 50 years. Act 10 decreed that all other public employees effectively lose their rights to collectively bargain working conditions, salaries and benefits such as health care. Among the problems created was a difficult and uncomfortable work environment for public employees where people in the same office were ‘haves,’ and others were ‘have nots.’Governor Walker argued that eliminating collective bargaining was one of the tools that local governments needed to manage budgets. This argument soon collapsed under the weight of the fact that the largest share of most local government’s budgetary costs is related to police and fire wages, health care and pensions. Act 10’s preferential treatment of police and fire unions makes no budgetary sense. Governor Walker and the Republican legislators did not give local governments the needed collective bargaining tools in the tool box to manage their tight budgets.The genesis of this unequal treatment under Act 10 was never in question. Governor Walker gave preferential treatment to police and fire unions as quid pro quo for Milwaukee police and fire unions’ early and unwavering campaign support for Governor Walker and many legislative Republicans. It was a political payoff at taxpayers’ expense.I strongly believe that our society works better when all workers have the right to collectively bargain. I have introduced and supported bills to do just that, but the bills have gone nowhere in the legislature – they have not even been allowed a public hearing.Until such time that all public workers’ rights are protected, the creation of a preferential class among public workers unions – distinguished only by their support of Republican political campaigns – violates any notion of fairness and equal treatment under the law.Given the cards Governor Walker has dealt this state, the only fair alternative is to require the equal treatment of all public employee unions. It's time for Act 10 to be equally applied to police and fire unions.”