The Mayor of Madison and his Common Council rushed to give sweetheart deals to its government employee unions in the height of the siege of the State Capitol. Mayor Dave Cieslewicz earned the endorsement of all 12 city labor unions Friday when he marched arm in arm with the unionists and his complaisant city council on February 17 to extend the contracts at a hastily called session well away from the normal council chambers. That was the day the Fugitive Fleebagging 14 Democrats left for parts unknown.
That contract called for a 3 percent pay increase this year and another 2 percent next year -- with NO health insurance or pension givebacks. That earned him the endorsement of the unions. Then came the governor's budget bill which, predictably, included $11 million in shared revenue reductions, putting the city in an $8.5 million hole.
Now the mayor wants to extend the contract another year and one-half -- to March 2014 -- in return for some modest givebacks.
Here is his message to Common Council members shortly after 12 noon today:
Yesterday AFSCME representatives approached me with a proposal to extend their contract, which ends at the end of 2012, to March of 2014 in order to mitigate the impacts of the governor's proposed biennial budget and avoid significant service cuts or layoffs. The City Attorney has advised that that is possible as state law allows for contracts to run for up to three years. So, we could essentially tear up the current contract and adopt a new three-year contract starting now.
In incredibly challenging circumstances brought on by Scott Walker, this is how we should be working together with our unions to solve our problems it's another example of how collective bargaining works in everyone's interest.
In exchange for what is essentially a 15-month extension, a 3% pay increase at the end of 2013 and a commitment to work with them to avoid layoffs, we worked out an agreement that would:
- Reduce the pay increase at the end of 2011 from 3% to 2%.
- Require a 50% contribution to retirement benefits starting in January 2012.
These two provisions would save the city about $2 million on the levy in 2012 ($2.8 million overall) if applied to AFSCME represented employees alone and $8.6 million on the levy ($9.8 million overall) if applied to all represented employees. We have discussed this tentative agreement with other bargaining units, and they are considering it. The city would save an additional $2.2 million with provisions on pension and health insurance contributions applied for non-represented employees.
The mayor wants a ratification meeting either next Tuesday or Thursday. This giveback involves only one of the unions AFSCME Local 60, a major one, but not all 12. Now the Mayor is desperate. I'm guessing it was Mayor Dave who went to the unions, in quite the panic, not the other way around.
What the mayor does not tell you is that while he is reducing the 2011 pay increase to 2% from the already ratified 3%, the city would also raise pay by 2% in each of the following years. That makes it a 2% + 2% + 2% pay raise.
What's more, the city would continue to pay 100% of the employee's health insurance premiums this year and next. Only in 2013 would employees be required to pay 6% - still below the 12 percent required of state employees - and Madison teachers!
By contrast, state employees get no pay raise of any kind. Madison teachers got no pay raise. All are taking the full pension and health insurance givebacks!
Meanwhile, the union bosses still get their dues payroll deducted; and none of those nasty annual recertification votes.
As Council President Mark Clear told this blogge after the February 17 extension: "Labor peace is expensive."
To which I can only say, for Mayor of Madison in the April 5 election, write in Thuy Pham-Remmele (remember: two m's). Miss Vicki and I endorse!
Government is the pre-bailout General Motors
I've been saying that government is no longer a growth industry. A thoughtful article from Toronto's Globe and Mail:
State and local governments have become the equivalent of a pre-bailout General Motors, spending more and more of their shrinking revenues on concessions to workers while facing back-breaking tabs for future retirees.
Whether public employees deserve the pay and benefits they have wrested from governments is beside the point. States can't pay for them.
... Nearly absent from this debate is any discussion of tax increases. Why is that? ... "Voters with insecure job tenure and [weak] pensions will simply not pay higher taxes so that bureaucrats can enjoy lifetime tenure and secure pensions."
Defend the Republican 8 who stayed in Madison and stood up to the union bosses.
Recall the Fugitive Fleebagging 14.