Milwaukee County unions’ focus other than best interests of their members
The unions representing Milwaukee County employees and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker are locked in a struggle, and at stake is the financial well-being of Milwaukee County. The county budget for 2010 called for a number of concessions by the union. Since the union isn’t cooperating, extra furlough days have been added and the layoffs have begun.
Last week was a rough week for Milwaukee County union employees. Those that were not sent lay-off notices by the county were told they might have to be furloughed an additional ten days in 2010.
Of course, had their leadership considered their membership’s best interests instead of just trying to score rhetorical points against the County Executive, the situation might never have come to this.
For 2010, the county budgeted wage and benefit concessions across the board, including union employees. The county budget calls for a wage freeze, no step increases, $30 per month health care premium increase, and a change in the pension multiplier to 1.6%. In his budget address, County Executive Scott Walker said 48% of the county budget goes to fund wages and benefits for county employees. The concessions are necessary to fill a $10 million budget gap.
However, the unions have not yet agreed to the concessions, forcing the county to address the impending budget imbalance by taking steps to reduce labor costs. Apparently the unions would rather have fewer members than have their current membership paying a little extra towards their health care.
Seriously, is losing their jobs really worth a few empty debating points in the attempt to stop Walker from becoming governor? If the unions don’t agree to the concessions, more cuts will come.
The current layoffs will only save $1.8 million. The current furlough days will save $2 million. More savings will need to be found unless union leadership returns their focus to the best interests of the union membership.