Before Act 10, Milwaukee County had three ways of dealing with grievances and disciplinary issues.The case of Abele vs. Abele was heard in circuit court and the judge ruled with Abele that the Personnel Review Board could only review cases where the punishment is very severe.
If the worker was represented by the union, they could grieve verbal or written reprimands or suspensions of 10 days or less before an arbitrator. If the discipline was more than 10 days or was termination, their grievance would be heard before the Personnel Review Board (PRB), a panel of five people appointed by the county executive. Non-represented workers had everything go before the PRB.
With the passage of Act 10, that all changed. The arbitration system was ended.
But Abele never put another system in its place to deal with these issues, as required by Act 10.
Without going into the details or the merits of the case, a union worker was given a three day suspension that they thought to be unfair. Without an arbitrator to grieve the matter to, a grievance was filed with the PRB.
Abele was outraged at this and sent his corp counsel to argue that the PRB could not hear the matter. The PRB found that under Act 10 and other state laws and county ordinances, the worker had the right to be heard and since Abele had not set up a system to do so, they were going to.
Angered that the PRB had found that workers still have rights and that the PRB - his own appointees - were going to enforce those rights, Abele went off the deep end.
Abele has had his corp counsel file a lawsuit against the PRB in order to stop them from following Act 10 and allowing a worker to grieve an unfair discipline.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Abele is having one of his appointees sue five other of his appointees to stop them from enforcing Act 10. And this will be both prosecuted and defended using tax payer dollars.
All because he doesn't want workers to have even the few rights still allowed to them under Act 10.
What this also means is that Abele is out of compliance with both Act 10 and the Status Quo Ordinance. Both of these laws require that there is a grievance procedure in place so that the workers still have a voice in the workplace.
In other words, Abele is going out of his way and squandering county resources in an effort to silence workers' voices and deny them due process and other rights.
The reason for Abele's stunt is the same reason he bought off state legislators and schmoozed Scott Walker into passing Act 14, the law which hamstrung the county board and consolidated power in Abele's hands. It is nothing more than a selfish power grab so that he and his plutocratic pals in the Greater Milwaukee Committee can plunder county assets, such as the parks, the buildings and the pension fund.
Unfortunately for Abele, he again underestimated the unions and overestimated his own intelligence.
The unions have alerted county workers to this latest attack from Abele and has vowed to do what unions are meant to do - protect workers from people like Abele and his managers who have been known to repeatedly abuse the power of their office for personal vendettas and agendas.
It is expected that Abele will increase his attacks on the workers when he presents his proposed 2015 Milwaukee County Budget.
There are three important points that need to be made from this latest attack by Abele.
Secondly, the Milwaukee County Board needs to step up once again and do what Boss Abele won't, which is protect the county, the workers and the taxpayers by putting in an effective and efficient grievance procedure, which is required by law and which will be much less expensive than the long line of court cases and WERC complaints that Abele is advocating for.
Thirdly, one has to question the leadership of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County. Even though Abele has repeatedly attacked workers' rights, living wage laws, their own party members and have repeatedly donated to the most rabid of Teapublicans, Democratic leaders continue to say and do nothing.
When Walker would do the same things, they were denouncing it at every turn. But now that it's Abele doing it, there is nothing from the Democrats.
This would mean that they are either OK with Abele's drastic shift from their platform, they are too scared to say anything or that Abele has bought off their silence. No matter how one cuts it, it makes me question their judgment and other decisions that they have made.
I got news for them, but it's wrong no matter who does it. Supporting workers' rights, providing quality services for those who need it, and responsible governing is not a sometimes thing.