E-mails obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel show the concessions Governor Scott Walker has been willing to make on the collective bargaining provisions of his budget repair bill. State Senator Mike Ellis says one of the concessions is that Walker would no longer seek to limit public employee union bargaining over wages to the rate of inflation. “He also offered to only have a recertification vote of the union, instead of every year, he changed that to three years,” said Ellis. “He left intact the big ones though, the pension and the health care. They would not be bargainable.”
But that’s not something that’s likely to bring Democrats, including Senator Bob Jauch, back to Madison. “I had included a suggested that there would be a sunrise of those contributions, that would enable the employees to at least go the table and sign the agreement,” said Jauch. “So at least they are at the table even though there’s a gun to their head.” Jauch said he wasn’t happy with Walker’s press conference Monday, in which he named Jauch and Senator Tim Cullen as the Democrats he’d been having conversations with. Democrats left Madison more than two weeks ago in order to block Senate passage of Walker’s budget repair bill and its controversial provisions which would strip most public employee unions of their ability to negotiate on pensions and health care. Walker and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have continued to insist that those aspects of the bill are not open to negotiation, and Democrats won’t back down on their insistence that they be taken out of the bill, which has already been passed by the state Assembly.
“He’s made a good faith effort to reach out to the Democrats in the areas of collective bargaining, now it’s up to them,” said Ellis of the concessions outlined in the e-mails (PDF). “We’re in the heat of an agreement on the stuff he said he was for,” said Jauch, referring to the concessions unions have indicated that they’d be willing to make on pension and health care contributions. “On the real issues of destroying collective bargaining, we feel that we could put together a package that allowed him to feel as though he had achieved some kind of political victory, yet protect workers and workers rights.”
WHBY‘s Rick Schuh contributed to this report