Taxpayers poorly served by hurry-up negotiations.
IT’S OBVIOUS, as requests pile up across the state, that some public unions are trying to take advantage of what’s likely to be a narrow window in time to circumvent the Wisconsin labor reforms enacted over a year ago.
Limits on collective bargaining currently are in limbo after a Madison judge ruled against the law. That’s being appealed, with Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen urging the Wisconsin Supreme Court to expedite the process to decide the issue. Considering the predictable 4-3 split on the court, prospects are very high for the reforms eventually being upheld.
So most units of government, wisely, have resisted hurry-up efforts to skirt the law. Better to let any confusion clear so governing boards know they are operating in accord with law going forward.
A FEW, HOWEVER, clearly prefer to register their unhappiness with state government by rushing to reopen contracts. The latest is Milwaukee Area Technical College, with a 5-4 board decision to negotiate with faculty a year before the current contract is due to expire.
It’s a safe bet to assume the board is not motivated by its desire to save money for taxpayers.
Look, we get it. Reforms adopted by Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-dominated legislature were dramatic and unpopular with public employees and others. But voters doubled down by retaining Walker in last June’s recall election. Then voters reaffirmed the direction on Nov. 6 by returning Republicans to full legislative majority, even as they split tickets by electing Democrat Tammy Baldwin to the U.S. Senate and giving Wisconsin’s electoral votes to President Obama.
Politics aside, it’s just common-sense — and keeping faith with taxpayers — to allow the law to be clarified rather than leaping at any chance to get around its provisions.