The problem was that he never sat down at the bargaining table to negotiate those concession. So even if the unions were willing to make those concessions, they were never given the chance. Walker wanted to use this as a campaign talking point as he was running for governor. Walker had made the unions the boogeyman for his base to hate and fear and help carry him to being elected.
To make a long story short, the furloughs were taken to arbitration and found to be illegal. The County took this finding to court to have it overturned, but each time their claims were denied.
Earlier this year, after racking up $829,000 in interest, the county finally decided to pay the workers the money due to them for the 2010 furloughs. The bill for those day came to $4.5 million.
But that left the 2011 furlough days to yet be paid. The interest for these days were accruing at about $10,000 a month.
After dragging their feet for five more months, the County Board has voted 15-3 to pay off the 2011 furlough days:
Approved, 15-3, a $1.2 million payment to employees for unpaid furloughs in 2011 that were found excessive by the state Employment Relations Commission. The payouts would average $1,100 each to 897 employees. The county previously paid $4.5 million to settle a similar claim for 2010 furloughs.Someone really needs to ask Supervisors Joe Sanfelippo, Steve Taylor and Patricia Jursik why they voted to waste more taxpayer dollars by delaying the payout and whether they would have been willing to fund the interest that was accrued.
Even after this payment is made, presuming that Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele signs off on it, there is still one more bill coming due.
Because the work did not subside even though workers hours did, the county had to approve overtime to make sure the work got done (which cut deeply into any savings Walker claimed to make from the furloughs). But due to new county rules, any work put in during the week of a furlough was paid as straight time instead of time and a half. The county will owe these workers that did put in overtime the balance due to them since they were wrongly forced off the job.
As with the backdrop, this is something that might be negotiated down, except that Abele won't come to the negotiating table as he should. So much for his claims of being interested in saving money or wanting more efficiency.
I am still of the opinion that the county could and should seek recompense from Scott Walker and his campaign since the damage done to the county was the result of one of his campaign stunts. Likewise, the county could and should sue Walker and his campaign for all the hours that Walker and his staff spent doing campaign related activities during work hours as shown in the Walkergate investigation and subsequent trials.
But don't hold your breath for this. Abele often boasts of his good "working relationship" with Walker and his staff.
Abele should be much more careful of the company he keeps. But then again, Abele and Walker do seem so much alike already...