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Aug
2013
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Walker Would Likely Sign Act 10 Expansion to Include Firefighters, Police if Given the Chance

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In a speech this week, Wisconsin Governor and 2016 Republican Presidential talk-about Scott Walker said he was open to the idea of expanding his controversial Act 10 to include police and firefighters unions.  That piece of legislation, still being dealt with in the legal system two years later, strips workers of collective bargaining rights.  When he originally passed the law, he said that he exempted police and firefighters out of concerns for public safety.  Now, as he polishes his conservative credentials, the public’s safety is apparently on the back burner.

Or it was a lie along.

Wisconsin Professional Police Association executive director Jim Palmer told the Associated Press that Walker “made a “serious misstep” and that it was “disappointing that public safety now appears to be taking a back seat to partisan presidential politics.”

During the Q & A session following the speech at the Governmental Research Association’s conference in Milwaukee, Walker clarified that he had no intentions of proposing an expansion of Act 10, but would look at the issue if a bill to do so cleared the legislature.  He stated that police and fire unions were left out of Act 10 because of the danger that could come to the public if strikes or labor disputes disrupted their services.  

Walker argued,

“I think now, for those areas, having seen that the world didn’t come to an end for other municipal employees and county employees, there might be a greater opening going forward..”

Many munincipal employees might disagree.  As we relayed last week, one state employees’ union, WSEU, has lost nearly half of its members since Act 10’s passage.  This is mostly due to the fact that the union cannot effectively assist its members due to Act 10’s restrictions.  

Walker argues that this drop in membership was because “unions were just taking people’s money.” Via the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

“We saw a huge drop in AFSCME in Milwaukee because they’re just basically taking their money…,” Walker said. “You saw similar things going on with the teachers union. A teacher in Milwaukee, they take about $1,500 (a year) of his or her paycheck. That’s a lot of money. It’s money you can spend on your kids, you can prepare for college or whatever else might be out there.”

Marty Beil, executive director of the AFSCME arm that represents state employees, said Walker drained unions of much of their power.

“What he does is, he restricts unions from doing things that members feel have value and then he says, ‘Look at them. Members are dropping out because unions don’t offer any value.’ It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Beil said.

Another aspect of Act 10 required public workers to pay more for their pensions and health care, effectively cutting their take-home pay.

“People are dropping out of the union because of the economics,” not because they don’t see unions as valuable, Beil said.

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