Wisconsin Gubernatorial candidate Act 10 Commentary

Matthew DeFour:

Mary Burke, who has already been endorsed by more than a dozen of the state’s largest private- and public-sector unions, said she supports making wages, hours, benefits and working conditions mandatory subjects of bargaining for public employees.

She called the annual elections, the prohibition on requiring union dues of all employees, and a ban on automatic dues collections “nothing more than heavy-handed attempts to punish labor unions” and said she would work to repeal those provisions.

She said she would have used the collective bargaining process to achieve the pension and health insurance contributions that helped balance the state budget. But she does not want to reset the law to before Act 10, when state employees could pay no more than 20 percent of health insurance premiums and could bargain with employers to cover their full pension contribution.

Burke also agreed the way contract disputes were settled for decades needed to change, but disagreed with eliminating interest arbitration. She said the factors used in the process should allow for “effective, efficient and accountable government workforce and institutions,” though she didn’t offer a specific plan for reinstating it.

The Walker campaign responded that Burke’s position on Act 10 “mirrors her willingness to concede to unions as a Madison School Board member, and is yet another example of how she would take Wisconsin backward.”
Unions weigh in
Rick Badger, executive director of AFSCME Council 40, which represents many Dane County-area municipal employees, said some of his members are unhappy Burke won’t promise to repeal the law entirely. But they like that she expressed interest in listening to different points of view, whereas Walker never responded to requests to meet after he was elected.

“She’s made it clear she’ll sit down with us,” Badger said. “After what employees went through over the past three years, it’s great to hear someone say, ‘Your concerns still matter.’ ”

Much more on Wisconsin Act 10, here.