Thursday, December 28, 2006

County Workers Win

The brewing fiasco between Milwaukee County officials and AFSCME Council 48 appears to be over. Just yesterday it looked like the battle would continue in court, but late in the day a tentative deal was struck between the two sides.

While the fight has been going on for two years, it really started to heat up around the time the county formulated the next budget. Scott Walker wanted to privatize the jobs, but the County Board wanted to keep them and put pressure on the union to accept concessions by only funding the positions for three months.

The County Board's tactic won out when it slapped down Walker's ridiculous veto of the budget in its entirety. But instead of accepting rejection, Walker decided to supercede the County Board's negotiation plan by issuing immediate layoffs of the positions in question and proceeding to talk with private contractors about filling them.

The union jumped in at this point and got a temporary court injunction against the layoffs, and before a final ruling on the issue was given, this tentative agreement was reached.

Based on the info provided by the Journal Sentinel, it appears that the union won out on this deal. Most importantly they kept the 100 positions, but, in addition, the concessions they made are ones that they pledged to make, anyway.

And the union also convinced the county to move to a managed health care system that tiers health plans by cost -- if workers want higher cost plans, then they pay more, as opposed to the set-up now that allows them to pay the same for all of the plans. So, in essence, this too was a concession by the union, but one they paradoxically had to fight to get (the tiered system was the idea of Walker's opponent in the 2004 county executive race, Dave Riemer...makes you wonder how much easier this all would've been if things turned out differently that spring).

This is just speculation, but it doesn't seem too unreasonable that the chance Walker and other county officials would be forced to testify under oath in court about their negotiation tactics played a role in this last second turnaround and agreement on a tentative deal.

What's a lot less speculative is the point that all this would be so much easier if Walker and the County Board could just learn how to play nice.


Anonymous Vaughn said...

So why does the county need Greg Gracz to be labor negotiator(@$110,000 plus per year), they already settled most of the contracts. Could it be,gasp, political patronage.Gracz deferred his city pension (approx. 75k x 80%) to get 110K+ x 80% after one year, plus the 110K in his pocket to settle contracts that are 90% done. I'm sure he'll sign a waiver to lock his pension in at lower city rate, Ha! So when does the mainstream media pick up on this? Gretchen, feel free to pass it along if I can remain anoymous for obvious reasons, actual numbers are available as public record.I need spell check when I write on here, help! Also FF instalation of officers is January 8th at 7:30, same night as SHNA meeting. Vaughn

December 30, 2006  

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