Governor Scott Walker said local unions aren’t willing to grant concessions on health care and pension contributions, contrary to claims by labor leaders. State union leaders have offered to meet the concessions Walker has requested – a five percent contribution to pensions, and an increase to twelve percent for health care premiums – but Walker said actions speak louder than words. “The actions of their local affiliate unions have shown in the past couple weeks that they have no interest in actually moving forward on that. If they did, they would put their money where their mouth is and they would offer up contracts that provide a five and a twelve percent contribution for pension and health care,” the governor said.
In fact, said Walker, some local contracts have included pay increases. “On top of the fact that they’re not asking for any more when it comes to a pension or health care contribution, some of these contracts that are being rushed through in communities all across the state in light of our measure, are literally trying to raise the salaries under these contracts. A pay increase.” But Democrats in the state Assembly argued that some local governments are already charging their employees considerably more than the twelve percent for health care premiums that Walker wants. And they claimed pressure is growing for Walker to negotiate with them and the unions, to end the impasse over the governor’s budget repair legislation. The Capitol has been the scene of daily protests for more than a week, over provisions in the bill which would strip public employee unions of most of their collective bargaining right.
Walker also complimented Republicans and Democrats in the Assembly for debating on his controversial budget repair bill, and again called on Senate Democrats to return to the Capitol. “I’ve got to believe overwhelmingly the people of this state, no matter where they stand on this bill, believe that these 14 state Senators belong at the Capitol having the courage of their convictions to do their job.” The Democrats left Wisconsin last Thursday in order to deny Republicans the quorum needed to act on the bill.