Unions Continue End Runs Around Wisconsin Act 10

Public employee union bosses continue “business as usual” even after Wisconsin’s Act 10 has been upheld, and eliminates bargaining on anythign other then wages for government employees.  Government union bosses, however, think the law is something made to be ignored, or, at the very least, cicrumvented.  Daniel Bice explains the debacle in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Dimitrijevic later denied that the county was negotiating with a decertified union, saying these were just informal discussions. Email records proved otherwise.

Then on Monday, the chairwoman blocked County Board-authorized contract deals tentatively reached with four more labor groups – just as the proposals became public and County Executive Chris Abele questioned their legality.

This became apparent when No Quarter obtained documents showing Fred Bau, the county’s labor relations director, had cut tentative labor deals with union officials representing maintenance workers, nurses, attorneys and engineers. Bau works at the direction of the County Board.

Bau sent the contract proposals with the four certified unions to Dimitrijevic on Monday. He asked that the deals – already approved by his office and the unions – be put on the agenda for the May meeting of the Finance, Personnel and Audit Committee for approval.

The offers would have given Milwaukee County union workers a 1.5% pay raise starting May 12 – the same amount given to non-union county employees – and would have directed the county to collect union dues through payroll deductions.

“Based on attorney’s advice, I do not believe the county should be bargaining and negotiating with any non-public safety unions on anything other than base wages,” Abele said via email. “The terms of these agreements appear to violate Act 10.”

Bill Zaferos, spokesman for Dimitrijevic, released an email from the chairwoman indicating that she was blocking the measures from being voted on by a County Board committee.

Under the law, most public employee unions are allowed to negotiate only on wages, and any raises have to be at or below the increase in the inflation rate. These unions must also recertify annually.

Lyle Balistreri – president of Milwaukee Building & Construction Trades Council – defended the contract proposals that his group and three others cut with Bau, calling Abele’s statement “terrible” and “awful.”

Balistreri said all four unions have been certified by the state and that the proposed raises were below the rate of inflation. He said he didn’t think the provision on payroll deductions would be a problem because Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colás struck down Walker’s collective bargaining law.

That decision is under appeal. No Milwaukee County union was a party in that case.

“I think Abele is totally wrong,” Balistreri said.

The other three unions reaching tentative deals with the county are the Association of Milwaukee County Attorneys, the Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals and the Technicians, Engineers and Architects of Milwaukee County.

Supervisor Deanna Alexander, a frequent critic of Dimitrijevic, said it made no sense for officials to offer to collect dues for the various unions because it would put the county at unnecessary legal risk.

She has come under fire after it came to light earlier this month that Bau was engaged in contract talks with a decertified union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 48. Records show Bau made a contract offer to AFSCME in late March, and the union scheduled a vote on it before the deal became public.

There is now no offer on the table.

Dimitrijevic, however, has insisted that these were not negotiations with a decertified union – something prohibited by Walker’s collective bargaining law – but simply discussions between the two sides.

As a result of the controversy, five of the 18 supervisors have advocated ousting Dimitrijevic as chairwoman of the County Board. She has responded by calling the move a “political stunt.”