Unions Fail to File in Time, Lose Representation

Two Wisconsin unions failed to file a timely petition to represent several government employees, as required by Act 10. The Wisconsin Public Relations Commission is sticking to its guns, and the law. Molly Williams has the story in Courthouse News.

The Wisconsin Association of State Prosecutors and Local 150 of the Service Employees International Union filed their lawsuits Thursday in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, challenging the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission’s refusal to hold union elections.The unions have in the past represented the state’s assistant district attorneys, custodians in the St. Francis School District, and building-service helpers and food-service workers for Milwaukee Public Schools.

According to the complaints, the unions filed their petitions for recertification as employee representatives after business hours on the filing deadline, Sept. 15. The filing fee was submitted the following day.

Just as it has done in similar cases, the commission stuck to its deadline and denied review of the petition, repeating the decision on appeal, according to the complaint and commission decisions. As a result, the employee groups will be unrepresented for a year.

Peter Davis, the Employment Relations Commission’s chief legal counsel, said every public union has been required since 2011 to file these petitions if they want to continue to represent their employees.
Davis said the commission set a deadline, of which all unions are aware, and have chosen to stick firmly to it.

“Our view is we needed and do need a reasonable time frame to get the ducks in a row,” Davis said in an interview.

Exceptions to the deadline could create a “slippery slope,” the attorney added.

“Unions these days, in the public sector, all you get to bargain about is base wages, so in fact potentially what they lost was the right to bargain about their base wages, that would be for a year, and then they can regain that status if they choose to, a year from now,” Davis said.

Some unions have elected not to continue representation, Davis said, because they decide this scant benefit is not worth going through the bargaining process. Thus, the petition process is the opportunity
for a union to bow out by not filing.