Wisconsin Governor revisits collective bargaining rights

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July 30, 2013

By Kristen Mathews

Wisconsin

Scott Walker, the current Governor of Wisconsin, gave a speech Monday night to the Governmental Research Association. This was a preview of his speech to be held at the Government Research Conference which will be taking place in Milwaukee.[1] Walker brought up his successful implementation of Act 10, the law limiting collective bargaining rights for public employees, which was put into place two years ago. Police and fire unions were exempt from those limitations for public safety reasons. Walker did not want to take the chance of any members of the police or fire departments going on strike and leaving the city without the resources it would need in an emergency, and so only the unions' abilities to negotiate for health insurance was cut. He has now said that, although he is not pursuing any actions to expand the law to include police and fire unions, he would consider passing it through the Legislature. Walker feels that since the other municipal and county employees were able to function without bargaining rights for the last two years, police and fire departments would be more responsive stating; "hey, you know, things worked out,"[2]

Milwaukee mayor, Tom Barrett, did not agree with the bill or the exemption of the two unions from the law. He felt it pitted those public workers who lost all bargaining rights against others.[3] The negative responses from Walker's signing of Act 10 was one of the biggest instigators leading to a recall election in 2012.

Walker compared his philosophy of bargaining rights with Franklin Delano Roosevelt's. He said Roosevelt announced that he, “did not feel there wasn’t a need in the public sector to have collective bargaining because the government is the people. We are the people. And so what we’ve done is to be able to empower our great employees, to affirm them.”[2]

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