Mayor, Council Leadership Call Special Council Meeting to Ratify New Contracts
March 18, 2011
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Council Leadership announced today that they will call a special meeting of the Common Council next week to ratify new city union contracts that will mitigate the impact of Governor Walker's biennial state budget.
Representatives of the city's largest labor union, AFSCME came to the mayor with proposals for new contracts that will help the city avoid major service cuts and layoffs. AFSCME, along with the Teamsters, Local 236, IATSE, Building and Trades, and Fire Supervisors, ratified the new contracts this week.
"I want to thank our unions for signing on to the new contracts," Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said. "The result will be that union protections will be extended for another 15 months - the longest period allowed under state law. These contracts also include wage and benefit changes that will result in millions of dollars in savings for the 2012 city budget, giving us a much better chance of avoiding layoffs or deep service cuts next year. It's another example of how collective bargaining and a cooperative approach between labor and management can help solve tough problems."
Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi today issued a temporary restraining order stopping implementation of Governor Walker's budget repair bill, in response to complaints filed by the mayor and others.
"The ruling is encouraging, but still leaves an uncertain timeline of implementation of the bill. In order to ensure that we can continue to work together with our unions, Council Leadership and I have decided to call a special meeting for next week," Mayor Cieslewicz said.
"We came to the mayor with changes for our contract because we know that it is important to work together and negotiate to address the budget challenges we're facing," Jennifer McCulley, AFSCME Local 60 Staff Representative said. "We're glad the mayor is willing to do that and that our union and others have ratified the new contracts."
Unions agreed to concessions in exchange for a 15-month extension, ensuring that the city can continue to work together with the union through 2013. The agreement reduces the pay increase at the end of 2011 from 3% to 2% and requires a 50% contribution to retirement benefits starting in January 2012 instead of January 2013. It also adds language regarding the city's intent to work cooperatively together with unions to avoid layoffs.
"In incredibly challenging circumstances brought on by Scott Walker, this is how we should be working together," Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said. "As Scott Walker pushes draconian, divisive measures in his state budget, I'll continue to work together with our unions to solve our problems. That is how collective bargaining works."
- Rachel Strauch-Nelson, 608-266-4611