Special Meeting & a Special Walk
February 17, 2011 7:53 PM
It's just a question of simple fairness. The City of Madison has a dozen unions. Some have settled contracts to the end of 2011, some have contracts to the end of 2012 and others have not yet settled a contract at all. With Governor Walker's proposal to essentially wipe out any possibility of collective bargaining on the fast track, we had to act soon in order to treat all our unionized employees the same. If we wait until our next regularly scheduled Council meeting next Tuesday we might already be preempted from doing the right thing.
So, I've called a special Council meeting for tonight to settle all of our contracts through 2012. In addition, we'll try to help our non-represented employees as much as we can by eliminating a health insurance co-pay (they'll be forced to pay at least 12% of those premiums by the state anyway) and by trying to lock in the same modest pay increases that we'll give to our unionized employees over the next two years.
Because the Dane County Board has its meeting tonight in our usual chambers we had to relocate the Council meeting to the Overture Center where live video streaming is possible. Council members, union officials, leaders of non-represented employees and managers are invited to join me on the steps of the City County Building for some brief remarks. Then we'll walk together across the Capitol Square to the Overture Center for our meeting.
The point of that symbolic walk together is that labor and management are united on this. In fact, I'm not aware of a city in the state whose administration thinks that union busting is a good way to solve a budget problem. Collective bargaining has worked for better than four decades. My hope is that there's still some chance that sanity will reassert itself at the Capitol, but in case it doesn't we'll do our best to enforce Madison values in Madison.