Budget Repair Bill Passes Without Democrats

Stripping the original budget repair bill of its fiscal items, the Wisconsin State Senate passed an amended conference committee version of the bill last night, effectively eliminating collective bargaining for public workers. The bill passed 18-1, with no Democrats present. Senator Dale Schultz of Richland Center was the only Republican to vote against the bill. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau summary of the bill is here.

The unexpected move was quickly met by thousands of protesters who flooded the capitol and its grounds. The Assembly is expected to convene at 11 am to pass the bill and move it on to Governor Walker for his approval.

The bill will cut benefits for all state employees, eliminate the ability for unions to negotiate over anything but wages, and restrict future salary increases for represented employees. PROFS registered against the original budget repair because it violated the principles agreed upon by the New Badger Partnership working group which were approved by the Faculty Senate. PROFS was opposed to the bill because it eliminates faculty and staff collective bargaining sharply restricts bargaining by classified staff. The bill will:

  • Require employees in WRS contribute 5.8% of one’s salary toward the annual pension payment
  • Require state employees to pay at least 12.6% of health insurance costs
  • Repeals authority of UW faculty and staff to bargain collectively
  • Repeals collective bargaining for employees of the UW Hospital and Clinics. Currently represented employees will be transferred to the UWHC Authority
  • Keep total wage increases for public union employees to the rate of inflation, unless approved by voters
  • Require public employee unions to take an annual vote to maintain certification. Employers will be prohibited from collecting union dues and payment of dues cannot be required. These changes go into effect upon expiration of current contracts and law enforcement, firefighters and state troopers are exempt. Many of these groups supported Walker in his bid for governor.
  • Prohibit Limited Term Employees from receiving health insurance and participation in WRS
  • Authorizes agencies to terminate any employee who participates in work stoppage or misses 3 days of work during a declared state of emergency without approval of the employer

These changes are expected to take place in April, and PROFS will continue to provide you with the most accurate information available.