For the last several weeks, we have pointed out that the union fight in Wisconsin is more about union power and union dues than the actual members. It was also noted how unions were rushing back to get contracts signed before Scott Walker’s new law took effect.
Now, via Piece of Work In Progress comes irrefutable evidence that some unions in Wisconsin are so desperate to secure continued dues payments before Scott Walker’s union reform law takes effect that they are more than giving management everything it wants—at least one union actually gave management more than it was asking for—at the expense of its own members.
What you are about to hear is the audio of a portion of a March 15th meeting among the Sauk County, Wisconsin Board of Supervisors. The purpose of that portion of the meeting was to discuss the tentatively agreed to contracts with the SEIU and several AFSCME locals.
At that session, supervisors discussed ratification of proposed 33-month contracts for five separate bargaining units:
- AFSCME Local 3148 – Sauk County Health Care Center
- AFSCME Local 252 – Sauk County Sheriff’s Department (non-sworn employees)
- AFSCME Local 360 – Sauk County Highway Employees
- SEIU- Healthcare Wisconsin
- Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA) – Clerical Unit
On the audio, Sauk County Corporation Counsel Todd Liebman is heard explaining how, prior to Scott Walker, the unions and the County were at “loggerheads” and heading to interest arbitration. Then, within the last month, the unions offered to accept the County’s final offers. To take it even further, Liebman explains, the SEIU came in and actually offered more concessions.
However, given the uncertainty of the new budget repair bill, the offers were initially rebuffed. Then, following Scott Walker’s signing of the new law, Liebman explains, one of the union business agents came to him and offered the county “carte blanche with regard to the economic conditions of employment.”
What followed, Liebman goes on to explain, is a sort of template that all five unions agreed to. In explaining one of the contracts (below), you will see how the union practically gave to management nearly everything most unions would try to fight for. In the new contract(s) management (the County) obtained the ability to (in its sole discretion) set all matters of pay; the ability to outsource work; the right to add or eliminate classifications; eliminate premium overtime; the right to select (and/or change) the health insurance program and determine the levels of insurance, the deductibles, and/or co-pays; the elimination of life insurance; and, as opposed to any increases negotiated, the County obtained a wage freeze during the life of the agreement. Together these concessions are far more substantial than anything Governor Scott Walker had proposed.
By listening to the audio, you may note two other interesting things:
First, is the comment that the proposed contract is similar to federal workers, who do not have the right to bargain over wages or benefits.
Second, near the end, a county supervisor questions whether the employees got anything other than the ability to pay union dues.
Here is both the audio, as well as the new proposed agreement.
Now knowing what the employees lost through the unions’ preserving their “right to collective bargaining,” one might ask what did employees gain under the new agreement?
Well, the employees won the right to continue paying union dues…That appears to be it.
Way to go, unions!
*Thanks to Ben Howe for uploading the audio.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776