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Former City of Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz

Former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz's Blog


Not What We Wanted

February 22, 2011 12:12 PM

Today I signed on to a letter sent to Governor Walker and the Legislature by dozens of local officials. The letter strongly opposes the Governor's proposal to essentially eliminate collective bargaining for public employees.

It reads in part, "Skilled public employees and proactive public sector unions are vital for the stable, cost-effective operations in municipalities, counties, school districts and state programs. Effectively doing away with local collective bargaining is not something we have asked for nor support as a 'tool' to solve our budget challenges. It is not in the best interests of Wisconsin communities." You can read the full letter here www.savelocalcontrol.org.

The Governor has said that he's giving us this "tool" to solve the budget problems he's about to create with cuts to state support for basic services through programs like Shared Revenue, Transit Aids and Payments for Municipal Services. We expect to see details of those cuts next week when he introduces his biennial budget.

But it's a tool we don't want or need. Collective bargaining has ensured decades of labor peace. If the Governor wants to cut state support for local governments to help balance his budget, well, most of us will accept our fair share of the pain. But we want to deal with these cuts in our own way. Every mayor, village president, town board chair or school board member knows his own community and should be allowed to deal with budget issues consistent with the values of that community.

And virtually none of us in responsible local positions want to see the end of collective bargaining. Cut our support if you feel you must, Governor, but don't take away our ability to work cooperatively with our workers to meet the budget challenges you create. We've gotten through cuts before without upending four decades of labor peace. We can do it again.



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