Republican lawmakers have approved the first pay plan for state employees crafted under the governor’s collective bargaining changes.
The compensation package covering nearly 41,000 state workers and 25,000 UW System employees includes no pay increases over the next two years and makes changes to overtime rules. A special legislative committee approved the plan Thursday on a 6-2 party line vote, following hours of testimony from union leaders.
State employee union executive director Marty Beil says the changes mark the destruction of their collective bargaining rights and will turn state worksites upside down. Beil says it will “jeopardize the excellent delivery of public services to the citizens of this state.”
Beil says the changes have resulted in low morale among workers in many different areas and has made it difficult to find new employees to keep up with the 75-percent increase in retirements experienced by the state this year.
Senate Democratic Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona) says the plan shows the GOP doesn’t believe employees deserve a voice and is a reflection of a “tremendously misguided and destructive public policy decision.”
The measure does allow for pay increases based on merit, although union leaders say it remains unclear how those raises will be determined. State Representative Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) worries the system will be open to abuse and could result in a supervisor giving their “golfing buddy” a raise while a hard working employee is ignored.
Only approval by the Joint Committee on Employment Relations was needed for the plan to take effect in January.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:26)