I have heard learned that Scott Walker has just given lay off notices to more than 70 county employees this afternoon. So much for his promise to try to avoid lay offs and to maintain services.
These workers include all of the security guards at the courthouse, children’s courts and city campus. Word is that Walker already had contracts in place with a private agency, which the County Board had rejected due to not being cost effective. That would raise a red flag on why Walker is still pursuing something that is a total waste of money.
Also being given notices of lay off to all of fleet maintenance which includes three mechanics and one maintenance worker. These are the people that keep the county cars and trucks in working condition. If you see a county vehicle after the next two weeks, you may want to show proper precautions since they will no longer be properly maintained.
Also being laid off are several workers at the airport, including six maintenance workers, a clerk messenger and a telephone receptionist. This is an obvious set up for a future attempt at privatizing it. The County Board has already made it perfectly clear that they would not allow this to happen, so this will only leave Walker with egg on his face.
Other workers include at least 26 park maintenance workers. These people are the front line workers who do the maintenance at the pavilions, cut the grass, maintain the ball parks, repair broken equipment among other duties. So if you have an event planned in a county park, or you belong to a baseball or softball team, be prepared to come early to cut the grass and pick up the trash before your event or game.
I checked with some members of the County Board and this was breaking news to them as well. So much for his garbage of being willing to work with the Board in resolving the County’s financial woes which Walker created.UPDATE: More information: Because the way unemployment compensation works for governmental lay offs vs. private sector layoffs, the lay offs could actually end up costing tax payers $1.3 million more than if the workers were allowed to keep their jobs. And that is not counting the inevitable legal costs coming because Walker did it in the wrong way. Again.
One other thing that I have just learned this afternoon is that there was an all day arbitration hearing today regarding the privatization of the housekeeping staff at the Behavioral Health Division. The crux of the issue at hand is that Walker had shown clear intent to privatize the service by sending out RFPs early in 2009 and started on contract negotiations well before the privatization was approved by the County Board. He did this all without talking with the unions to try to find ways to economize the services, as required by the contract that he signed himself.
The decision might not come for a month or so, but if the unions are successful in their arbitration, the privatization contract would have to be set aside, the former housekeeping staff would have to be returned to their positions, complete with full back pay. Furthermore, Walker would be prevented from any further privatization of this service for at least 180 days and not without first sitting down with the union to look at ways of streamlining the system and proving that the union workers could not do it at a comparable cost to the taxpayers.
Obviously, Walker has decided that the title “county executive” really means “king”, and that we are all nothing more than his serfs to do with as he sees fit, even if it means diminishing our quality of life, raising our taxes, and giving our money to his campaign contributors. It also goes to show that Walker does not have the best interest of Milwaukee County citizens and tax payers in mind, but are only using us as pawns for his political aspirations. This sort of malfeasance must stop and stop soon, before he bankrupts all of us.
Cross posted at Milwaukee County First