Wisconsin anticipates union bill’s enactment

Eager Wisconsin officials are telling workers they’ll still contribute more to employee benefits while Gov. Walker’s embattled legislation is stuck in the courts.

Brad Karger, the administrator for Marathon County said his county, like many others, will have workers contribute 15 percent to their health care and 5.8 percent to retirement starting next year.

“We’re projecting for next year’s budget all of the suggestions Governor Walker has in terms of employee contributions,” Karger said.

When his county requested that workers increase health care contributions last year, the unions said no.

But this year, Karger, who said he’s confident that Walker’s legislation will be enacted soon, doesn’t have to worry about unions.

Karger said Wisconsin counties are “overwhelmingly” deciding to up employee contributions for next year, free from the oversight of unions and despite Judge Maryann Sumi’s ruling.

Some local governments may be rushing to make new budgets under the Walker legislation because they feel freed from union rule, said Cleta Mitchell, a partner at Foley & Lardner and a political law attorney.

“Governments are feeling as though they have a backstop and they don’t have to feel so terrorized by the unions any more,” Mitchell said.

(New Palin movie shows former governor speaking at 2011 Wisconsin Tea Party rally)

Recently, West Allis, a metropolitan Milwaukee school district agreed to stop deducting union dues from teacher paychecks and increased their pay into health care premiums and retirement plans, The Milwaukee Sentinel reported.

Other schools, like Waupun School Board, reached an agreement with it’s union to freeze salary and increase health care as well as retirement contributions.

Republican Wisconsin State Senator Leah Vukmir sees this move as a front.

“It gives a false sense that, ‘look we’re contributing,’” Vukmir said. “They’re not backing off, it’s kind of a ploy that they’re using.”

Vukmir said those who are write contracts now may be bitter later.

“We’ve heard from many school districts and levels of government, that they realize the effect of what we’re doing is creating greater local control,” Vukmir said. “Others it took a while to realize, ‘wow, we’re in control.’ The ones that are settling contracts now are going to be really hurt.”

In Weston, Wisconsin talks of increased employee benefit contributions were on the table long before Walker came into the picture, but now the city feels more confident about asking employees to pay half of their pension next year.

Weston Administrator Dean Zuleger said raising employee contributions is more about following demands that voters made last fall when they elected Gov. Walker.

“Communities who are trying to circumvent the legislation (by renewing union contracts) are taking the democratic form of the election out of the hands of the people,” Zuleger said.

“I think it’s a great disservice to the electoral process.”

The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday on whether Gov. Walker’s bill violated the state’s open meeting laws.

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  • truebearing

    Go Walker! I love anyone who slaps the evil, damn unions down. The state of Wisconsin has already benefitted financially from the Budget Repair Bill, despite the fact it hasn’t been implemented yet.

    I would like to quote three lines from Andrew Breitbart’s short speech where he introduced Palin to the Madison Tea Party. He was addressing the union protestors with three short, but appropriate words: “Go to Hell”, Go to Hell”, and “Go to Hell”. Sweet!

    I guess that speech makes Bretbart a prophet because I expect the union thugs will go to hell.

  • PalinPatriot4ever

    Why is it that the Gov of Tennessee, just signed a new Bill into law, stripping any and all Unions from collective Bargaining, and several other States have already done the same, but Wisconsin and Gov. Walker, still have not yet finished their law into service.. If it’s this liberal activist Judge Sumi, just causing stall tactics, and obstruction of legal Executive and Legislative Legislation, then they should have just have the Wisconsin Congressional Legislature / Senate and House, revoted on the original comprehensive Budget Bill, and past it again.

  • thephranc

    15 percent to their health care and 5.8 to retirement

    How about 100% like the rest of us.

    • BigRmv

      To be fair, my employer (non-union) has a good health care plan and offers 401K matching. But we still pay 10% for HC insurance (about 50/50 with the employer), and the 401K match is a small percentage of the amount I put away. But my employer in no way pays for all of my benefits. Why do the government workers feel it’s somehow owed to them?