2011 Wisconsin Act 10

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The 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, also known as the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,[1] was legislation proposed by Republican Governor Scott Walker[2] and passed by the Wisconsin Legislature to address a projected $3.6 billion budget deficit.[3] The legislation primarily impacted the following areas: collective bargaining, compensation, retirement, health insurance, and sick leave of public sector employees. In response, unions and other groups organized protests inside and around the state capitol. The bill was passed into law and became effective as of June 29, 2011. Public employees exempted from the changes to the collective bargaining law include firefighters and most law enforcement workers.[1]

Legislation summary[edit]

Legislative history[edit]

On February 14, Republican Governor Scott Walker introduced the legislation to the state legislature.[2] Initially, legislative Democrats and union leaders offered to accept the increased cost of benefits but not the limited bargaining rights, which was subsequently rejected by Walker.[11] A couple days later, as a tactic to prevent passage of the bill, all 14 Democratic members of the Wisconsin State Senate fled Wisconsin and traveled to Illinois in order to delay a vote on the bill.[12] With only 19 Republican members, the Senate would not have the 20 Senators required for a quorum in order to vote on the bill, since it was a fiscal bill.[13]

On February 20, all 14 Senate Democrats announced they would indefinitely remain in Illinois.[12][14] Walker and the State Senate's Republicans tried to get the absentee Democrats to return. In late February, the Governor threatened to lay off state workers as the deadline to restructure the state's debt approached,[15] however the deadline passed without incident.[16] State Senate Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, stripped Democratic staffers of their access to the copy machines if their representatives were absent without leave for two days or more, forcing staffers for the 14 legislators on the run to have to pay out of pocket for printing and photocopying.[17] Senators were not allowed to receive their salary via direct deposit if they are absent for two days or more, which would have forced them to collect their pay checks in person, which none could do until they all returned from Illinois after the legislation was signed.[18]

In early March, Senate Republicans voted to fine absent members $100 per day of absence.[19] Wisconsin Senate Republicans ordered the arrest of those senators who had fled the state for "contempt and disorderly behavior", authorizing the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms to seek help from law enforcement officers and to use force to return the senators to the Capitol.[20] However, Wisconsin State Patrol officers were unable to cross state lines into Illinois.[21]

Assembly Republicans began procedures to move the bill to a vote on February 22. Hundreds of constituents had signed up to give testimony while Democrats submitted dozens of amendments and conducted speeches, all which delayed the vote.[22] On February 25, following sixty hours of debate,[22] the final amendments had been defeated and the Republican leadership of the Wisconsin State Assembly cut off debate as well as the public hearing and moved to pass the budget repair bill. The vote was 51 in favor and 17 opposed, with 28 representatives not voting.[23][24][25][26]

In March, Walker offered a compromise to keep certain collective bargaining rights in place for state workers. Workers would be able to continue bargaining over their salaries with no limit as well as allowing collective bargaining to stay in place on mandatory overtime, performance bonuses, hazardous duty pay and classroom size for teachers. The Democratic Senators rejected the proposals as an inadequate compromise.[27] The day after Democrats rejected Walker's compromise, Republicans held a joint Assembly-Senate committee meeting to discuss quorum requirements.[28] The Senate requires a quorum to take up any measures that spend money, however by removing parts of the bill related to money, they had discovered a way to bypass the chamber's missing Democrats.[29][30] After the meeting, the Senate passed the legislation 18-1. The next day, the Wisconsin Assembly passed the collective bargaining bill with a vote of 53–42.[31][32]

On March 11, Governor Walker signed the bill and put out a statement rescinding layoff notices for 1,500 public workers.[33] The next day, the 14 absentee Democratic senators returned.[34][35]

Legal challenges[edit]

In response, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk filed suit against the state regarding the bill, on grounds that it was unconstitutionally passed because the budget repair bill contained fiscal provisions. Judge Amy Smith recused herself from hearing the case, which was instead heard by Judge Maryann Sumi.[36][37][38][39] A second lawsuit was filed against the state on similar grounds on March 16 by Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne.[40]

On March 18, Judge Sumi issued a stay on the bill because it had been passed without the required the 24 hours' notice to inform the public of the meeting.[41] Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen then announced he was appealing the ruling.[42] Despite this, on March 25, the Legislative Reference Bureau bypassed the Secretary of State's office and published the collective bargaining law, with Republicans saying it is law and they would enforce it.[43] On March 29, Judge Sumi reiterated that the bill had not become law regardless of the entity which published it, and public officials who attempted to enforce it risked legal sanctions.[44] On June 14, the State Supreme court overruled Sumi, declaring that the law was passed legally and that Sumi had overstepped her jurisdiction.[45]

On March 30, 2012, a federal court struck down parts of the collective bargaining legislation, ruling that the state cannot prevent public employee unions from automatically collecting dues and cannot require they recertify annually.[46] However, Wisconsin Attorney General Van Hollen sued and the ruling was overturned by a federal court of appeals on January 18, 2013.[47][48]

On September 14, 2012, Dane County, Wisconsin Circuit Judge Juan Colas, a Democrat, ruled that a section of the budget repair bill was unconstitutional, leaving the law in force for state workers, but not for city, county and school workers. Governor Walker promised to appeal the decision.[49] Under the repair bill, state and local governments were prohibited from bargaining with their workers over anything besides a cost-of-living salary adjustment, including health benefits, pensions, workplace safety and other work rules. The ruling restored local unions' ability to reach so-called "fair share deals" that require all workers within a given bargaining unit to pay union dues, even if they choose not to join. The ruling appeared to strike down for local workers a requirement that they pay half of the contribution to their pensions and, for workers within the state of Wisconsin health insurance system, pay at least 12% of their premiums. Those cost savings had been crucial for local governments and school districts to deal with the more than $1 billion in cuts in state aid over two years that Walker and GOP lawmakers passed last year to close a state budget hole.[50] Governor Walker's appeal (# 2012AP002067) of Judge Colas' ruling in Madison Teachers, Inc. v. Scott Walker was heard by the Supreme Court of the State of Wisconsin on November 11, 2013.[51] Act 10 was upheld by the State Supreme Court on July 31, 2014. [52]

District savings[edit]

In Kaukauna, school officials put in place new policies they estimate will turn a $400,000 deficit into a $1.5 million surplus. In April 2011, the union had offered healthcare and pension concessions as well as a wage freeze, which it projected would save $1.8 million, but the offer was rejected by the school board.[53] "The monetary part of it is not the entire issue," said board President Todd Arnoldussen. "It was in the collective bargaining agreement that we could only negotiate with them," said Arnoldussen referring to the past, when Kaukauna's agreement with the teachers union required the school district to purchase health insurance coverage from WEA Trust - a company created by the Wisconsin teachers union. This year, the trust told Kaukauna that it would face a significant increase in premiums. According to the conservative, Virginia-based Washington Examiner, with the collective bargaining agreement gone, the school district is free to shop around for coverage. Kaukauna can reduce the size of its classes - from 31 students to 26 students in high school and from 26 students to 23 students in elementary school. In addition, there will be more teacher time for one-on-one sessions with troubled students. Those changes would not have been possible without the changes in collective bargaining. The money saved will be used to hire a few more teachers and institute merit pay.[54]

The city of Milwaukee projects it will save at least $25 million a year and possibly as much as $36 million in 2012 from health care benefit changes due to not having to negotiate with unions. This is offset by about $14 million in cuts in state aid. This contrasts with Mayor Tom Barrett's initial comments in March, after the Walker administration and the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released figures on the extent of the aid cuts in the state budget.[55] Regarding Milwaukee Public Schools, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute completed a study in 2012 of the effect on the school district due to the implementation of Act 10 and found that the school system will save $101.1 million by 2020.[56]

The results have been mixed for school districts that had long-term labor contracts in place, how much they already were charging employees for health insurance, their enrollment trends, their fiscal situation, and local political factors.[57] Act 10 allowed for the possibility for districts to re-open union contracts to take advantage of the tools available in the act if the union membership chose to do so up to three months after the bill was signed into law.[58]

Reductions in state aid[edit]

The budget repair law reduced state aid to K-12 school districts by about $900 million over the next two years. 410 of Wisconsin's 424 districts will get about 10 percent less aid than the previous year. The biggest losses in dollar amounts will occur in the Milwaukee, Racine and Green Bay districts; Milwaukee will lose $54.6 million, Racine $13.1 million, and Green Bay $8.8 million. State aid to schools is computed by a complex formula based on property values, student enrollment and other factors. Property-poor districts get more aid than property-rich districts because they have lower property taxes. A provision in the budget repair law restricts the options of what districts can collect in property taxes and other revenue by requiring a referendum to prevent them from trying to replace their losses in state aid without first going to the citizens of the district. In Milwaukee, district officials announced they have eliminated 514 vacant positions and laid off almost 520 employees, including 354 teachers, mostly from elementary schools, which will result in larger class sizes. The Milwaukee School Board asked its teachers' union for a side agreement requiring teachers to contribute 5.8% of their pay toward pensions, as the union contract extends through 2013. This concession would have saved about $20 million and 200 jobs, however the union refused to make the concession. The Racine district has saved about $18 million from a wage freeze and larger employee contributions to pensions and health care, but the loss of state aid required the elimination of 125 positions (although a larger than usual number of retirements and resignations, as well as soon-to-be eliminated vacant positions meant the district needed to actually lay off 60 employees)[59] and the closing of all but one swimming pool for the summer.

Green Bay district froze wages and required greater employee contributions to pensions and health care, but the district has stopped filling vacancies and may have to combine elementary grades into single classrooms. Almost 70% of state school districts will be eligible for special adjustment aid, due to the decrease in the state's share of support. The special adjustment aid is intended to provide school districts with 90% of the state general aid from the previous year.[60][61]

Effect on unions[edit]

Public employee union membership dropped significantly after the law passed, with AFSCME reporting a drop from 62,818 in 2011 to 28,745 in February 2012. In many cases, the union members were removed by the union after they declined to have dues collected by the union.[62][63]

Since teachers' unions were no longer able to automatically deduct dues from teachers' paychecks because of the new budget repair law, unions are using a variety of methods including using a combination of meetings, emails, phone calls and home visits to get teachers signed up for dues collection. Some school districts are primarily signing members up for electronic funds transfers so they can deduct money monthly.[64] The latest IRS filing available shows that The Wisconsin Education Association Council collected about $23.5 million in membership dues in fiscal year 2009 from its approximately 98,000 members.[65]

Most of the membership dues go to pay salaries and benefits. The organization employed 151 people and paid them $14,382,812 which is an average compensation total of $95,250 per employee. This figure includes not only professional staff, but also lost wages paid to union bargaining team members, officers, and delegates to conventions.[66] The Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), announced that it would lay off about 40% of its workforce. The layoffs and budget cuts are based on a projected loss of revenue as a result of the budget repair legislation.[65]

The UW-Madison teaching assistant union, which was at the forefront of the protests against the new budget repair law, voted not to recertify their union in August 2011. Union leaders for state and local government workers said they also are leaning toward not recertifying. The Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), the state's largest teachers union, is the only state union to date that has indicated it plans to seek official union status with the state.[67] The Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) announced it would allow local union affiliates to possibly drop certification and that the agency would accept whatever the local unions chose.[68]

These issues will be re-determined after the State's appeal of Judge Colas's decision that part of the repair bill is unconstitutional (see above) has been ruled on by the Supreme Court of the State of Wisconsin, which calendared those appeal hearings for November 11, 2013.[69]

"Double dipping" controversy[edit]

According to a report by radio talk show host Mark Belling,[70] Tom Maki, the Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance retired in March 2011 due to the reforms proposed in the budget repair legislation. In April 2011, the Vice Chancellor was re-hired without a search and screen process. He returned to his previous salary of $131,000. This permits him to collect both his state pension payments and his salary. State Representative Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater), Chairman of the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee, expressed outrage at the report that the Vice Chancellor is being allowed to "double dip" by retiring and then being re-hired for his position. Nass announced he would cancel a public hearing on a bill supported by UW-Green Bay that would allow it and two other campuses to adopt a differential tuition system despite the current tuition cap. He also wants to determine if any state laws and UW System hiring rules were violated in this arrangement between the Vice Chancellor and Chancellor Thomas Harden as well as a request that the UW System conduct a review of all campuses to determine how many of these arrangements have been authorized since February.[71][72] State law prohibits agencies from making an arrangement to rehire someone who is planning to retire before that person leaves.[73]

About 1,100 retirees were rehired in 2011.[74] Maki resigned from the vice chancellorship in December 2011.[75] In October 2011, it was discovered that another UW-Green Bay administrator (Timothy Sewall) retired in March and returned to his $110,000-a-year position a month later, collecting both his salary and about $44,000 in annual retirement payments.[76]

Other opinions and reactions[edit]

One proposal seeks to diminish legislative oversight of the implementation of, and eligibility requirements for, state Medicaid programs.[7] A clause that would have allowed the state to sell up to 37 heating and cooling plants across the state without requiring competitive bids generated controversy.[8][9] After certain journalists expressed concerns that this provision could be part of a larger plan to sell state assets at bargain prices to business interests controlled by Charles and David Koch, who supported Walker's bid for governor.[77][78][79] Koch Industries issued a statement denying any interest in purchasing any state owned power plants in Wisconsin.[80] Generating controversy also was a proposal, backed by University of Wisconsin Chancellor Carolyn Martin and promoted as the "New Badger Partnership", to separate the flagship University of Wisconsin–Madison campus from the rest of the University of Wisconsin System.[10]

Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling, 2014[edit]

On August 1, 2014, it was reported in The New York Post ("Wis. gov wins union battle") that the

Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday [July 31, 2014] upheld the 2011 law that effectively ended collective bargaining for most [Wisconsin] public workers ... [the] 5-2 ruling upholds Walker's signature policy achievement in its entirety and is a major victory for the potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate, who is seeking re-election this year. The ruling also marks the end of the three-year legal fight over the law, which prohibits public-employee unions from collectively bargaining for anything beyond wage increases based on inflation. A federal appeals court twice upheld the law as constitutional. "No matter the limitations or 'burdens' a legislative enactment places on the collective-bargaining process, collective bargaining remains a creation of legislative grace and not constitutional obligation," Justice Michael Gableman wrote.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


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  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Governor Scott Walker (2011-02-11). "Governor Walker Introduces Budget Repair". State of Wisconsin. Office of the Governor. 
  5. ^ a b c "'Fake' Sick Notes Given to Wisconsin Protesters Amid Anti-Union Bill Faceoff". FOX News. 2011-02-19. Retrieved February 20, 2011. 
  6. ^ Trottman, Melanie (2011-02-14). "Public-Worker Unions Steel for Budget Fights". The Wall Street Journal. 
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  8. ^ a b Content, Thomas (2011-02-14). "Walker proposes selling state-owned power plants". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 
  9. ^ a b Content, Thomas (2011-02-25). "Budget-repair bill would enable no-bid sales of power plants". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 
  10. ^ a b Ramde, Dinesh (2011-02-26). "University of Wisconsin leaders oppose Gov. Scott Walker's plan to spin off Madison school". Green Bay Press-Gazette. 
  11. ^ Don Walker (2011-02-18). "Walker rejects union offer on bargaining rights". JSOnline.com. Retrieved 2011-03-09. 
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  17. ^ Terkel, Amanda (2011-02-28). "Wisconsin GOP Leader Targets Democratic Senate Staffers' Access to Copy Machines". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2011-03-02. 
  18. ^ "Missing Wisconsin state senators lose direct-deposit paychecks". Green Bay Press Gazette. 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2011-03-02. 
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  29. ^ Boyle, Matthew (2011-02-21). "Wisconsin Teacher Unions | Senate Could End Collective Bargaining Without Dems". The Daily Caller. Retrieved 2011-02-28. 
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  31. ^ Mary Spicuzza (2011-03-10). "Senate Republicans end debate on budget bill, await absent Democrats". Wisconsin State Journal. 
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  34. ^ Kelleher, James B. (March 12, 2011). "Up to 100,000 protest Wisconsin law curbing unions". Reuters. 
  35. ^ "United to Support Wisconsin Workers". Wisconsin AFL-CIO. March 13, 2011. 
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  37. ^ Ed Treleven (2011-03-14). "Judge recuses self from county lawsuit against collective bargaining law". Host.madison.com. Retrieved 2011-03-21. 
  38. ^ "Courthouse News Service". Courthousenews.com. 2011-03-14. Retrieved 2011-03-21. 
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  40. ^ Press, Associated (2011-03-14). "Wis. prosecutor files lawsuit challenging union law, alleges GOP violated open meetings law". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-03-21. [dead link]
  41. ^ Ed Treleven. "Judge orders temporary halt to collective bargaining law; state will appeal". Host.madison.com. Retrieved 2011-03-21. 
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  46. ^ http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/federal-court-strikes-down-parts-of-collective-bargaining-law/article_562c581e-7a9f-11e1-9aea-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz1qdSwIUUm
  47. ^ Federal Court upholds Act 10
  48. ^ Wisconsin Act 10 upheld by Federal Appeals Court on January 18, 2013, bizjournals.com (January 2013)
  49. ^ http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/14/13868190-judge-strikes-down-wisconsin-law-restricting-union-rights?lite
  50. ^ "Judge Colas rules part of repair bill 'unconstitutional'"
  51. ^ Appeal of Colas decision to be heard on November 11, 2013, wscca.wicourts.gov
  52. ^ [1], jsonline?com
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  54. ^ York, Byron (2011-06-30). "Union curbs rescue a Wisconsin school district". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  55. ^ Milwaukee to see net gain from state budget
  56. ^ The Big Squeeze: Retirement Costs and School District Budgets Milwaukee: Saved by Act 10…For Now by Robert Costrell and Larry Maloney
  57. ^ Act 10's effect on school districts a mixed bag
  58. ^ Kenosha schools asking Gov. Walker to reopen union contract window
  59. ^ Fiori, Lindsey (2011-05-18). "Unified plans to cut 125 positions". Racine Journal Times. Racine Journal Times. Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  60. ^ Herzog, Karen (2011-07-01). "Nearly every Wisconsin school district to see cuts in state aid". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  61. ^ Richmond, Todd (2011-07-01). "96 percent of Wisconsin schools to get less state aid". Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  62. ^ "Wisconsin Unions See Ranks Drop Ahead of Recall Vote". The Wall Street Journal. 2012-05-30. 
  63. ^ "Wisconsin AFSCME really lost 50% of its members", politifact.com; accessed November 23, 2014./
  64. ^ Teachers unions visit homes for dues option
  65. ^ a b WEAC issues layoff notices for 40% of staff, jsonline.com; accessed November 23, 2014.
  66. ^ Members chipped in $23.4 million to WEAC in 2008 union dues
  67. ^ UW-Madison teaching assistants union votes against state certification
  68. ^ WEAC profile, jsonline.com; accessed November 23, 2014.
  69. ^ [2], jsonline.com; accessed November 23, 2014.
  70. ^ Mark Belling September 6, 2011
  71. ^ UW-Green Bay Double Dipping Administrator
  72. ^ UW-Green Bay double dipping administrator - unacceptable
  73. ^ State investigating rehiring of UW-Green Bay official
  74. ^ State launches probe of UWGB hire
  75. ^ Vice chancellor Tom Maki leaving UW-Green Bay
  76. ^ Second UWGB official collecting salary, benefits after brief retirement
  77. ^ "The Koch brothers as Wisconsin puppet masters". Salon. 2011-02-22. 
  78. ^ Ungar, Rick (2011-02-22). "A Secret Deal Between Gov. Walker And Koch Brothers Buried In State Budget?". Forbes. 
  79. ^ Landman, Anne (2011-02-17). "The Koch Connection in Scott Walker's War on Working People". PR Watch. 
  80. ^ Content, Thomas (2011-02-21). "State sale of heating plants questioned". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.