March 18, 2011 3:13 PM
Today Judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary restraining order stopping, for now, publication of a bill that would essentially end collective bargaining rights for public employees. The judge ruled that there was strong evidence to suggest that Republican leadership in the legislature violated the state open meetings law when they rushed the bill to passage last week.
The ruling came in response to a complaint filed by the District Attorney at my request and that of others. The judge's ruling is a victory for open government.
At the same time, several city unions have now ratified new contracts that extend their union protections to March, 2014, the very longest period allowed under state law. The new contracts also include wage and benefit changes that will save the city millions of dollars in the next three years, helping us balance our budget after the deep cuts we expect from Governor Walker's budget. The cooperation of our unions makes it more likely that we can balance our budget without layoffs or deep cuts to services.
Since we're not sure how long the TRO will remain in effect, council leadership and I have decided to go ahead with a special meeting of the Common Council next week to approve those ratified contracts.
This is all another example of how collective bargaining works. Ironically, the response of city government and our unions to this challenge has proven the effectiveness of a good working relationship between management and labor, exactly what the Governor's bill would undermine.