Last week, I wrote about how Scott Walker has been sabotaging and delaying efforts to get a contract done between the County and AFSCME, the county's largest union. Like he did with the nurses union, Walker was hoping to give the AFSME members a small raise, and then lay off many workers. Some sources stated that the number could be well over 500 workers would be laid off. (For disclaimer purposes, let it me noted that I am an active member in the union.)
I am pleased to announce that despite all the delays and the setbacks, the union voted today and has ratified the tentative contract by better than a 2 to 1 ratio.
This contract is very similar to the one that was ratified by AFSCME members and the common council of the City of Milwaukee.
The county contract is for two years, 2009 and 2010. There will be no pay raises. Union members will, however, be paying more for their health insurance. The union also stipulated that the County could do reduced work hours, meaning 35 hour work weeks for up to six weeks. In other words, county workers could be given mandatory, unpaid time off totaling 30 hours. The union also gave up some other contractual rights as well.
In exchange, the workers received a clause that included no lay offs, no privatization and no furloughs. (Personally, I would have rather had the full days off, but the services still need to be provided, so this is a reasonable compromise).
The County Board will be having a special joint session of the Finance and Audit Committee and the Personnel Committee Wednesday morning to discuss and hopefully accept this contract. If approved, the contract goes in front of the entire Board on Thursday.
The question is how will County Executive Scott Walker respond. He could acknowledge the sacrifice being made by the county workers and accept the contract. But there are many, including myself, that are afraid that Walker's monomaniacal obsession with his campaign will not allow him to accept this gift and veto it out of fear of appearing not tough enough on the unions.
If Walker then does indeed veto it, the contract will then go again in front of the entire County Board to see if they would override his veto. Frankly, I don't know if there would be enough votes to override a veto, but I do believe it would be close one way or the other.
If Walker does veto it, and the Board fails to override it, I believe that the contract will probably go to full arbitration. Given what was accepted today, and the current economy, I can't imagine Walker getting anything else passed. But one never can tell.
But if Walker does veto it, I would love to see how he explains that saving millions of dollars isn't good enough. Or how he would try to get more out of an arbitrator. The same goes for the County Board if they fail to override the expected veto.