Collective bargaining law takes effect - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Collective bargaining law takes effect


ROCK CO (WKOW) --  The controversial collective bargaining law officially goes into effect Wednesday, after months of debate and protests throughout Wisconsin.

Secretary of State Doug LaFollette published the law in the Wisconsin State Journal Tuesday, meaning it goes into effect Wednesday.

If unions in counties, cities, and municipalities have not yet settled contracts, they will be affected by the law.

27 News took a look at how it will affect city and county finances.

State employees won't see a difference in pay until August, and the same goes for most union employees. If they've settled a contract already, it could be years from now.

We took a look at Rock County.

Officials there say there are ten different contracts in Rock County, and eight will be affected by the collective bargaining law. The contracts are up at the end of 2011.

At that point, Director of Human Resources for Rock County Dave O'Connell says he estimates state aid will be reduced by $3.3 million dollars in the budget. The projected employee benefit savings from collective bargaining are $2.6 million dollars, which still leaves a difference of $700,000 for the Rock County government.

It'll also change negotiations. O'Connell says the only item they'll negotiate with public employees (not including law enforcement and fire) is base salary.

In the city of Janesville, it's another story. Unionized employees there have contracts that don't expire until the end of 2012.

The city manager says the city faces a deficit in 2012 of two million dollars, even with the collective bargaining law. They've already factored in an extra $300-thousand dollars they'll get from non-unionized employees this year, then another $300-thousand in 2013 when union employees start to contribute to their pensions.

Then, there are the schools in Rock County. The school board president in Janesville says he's hoping to re-open the teacher's contracts, contracts that won't expire until June of 2013.

They were set before collective bargaining was on the table. He's hoping teachers would contribute toward pensions.

Bill Sodemann, Janesville School Board President, says, "We could have done the same thing with our valued employees, and that would have meant a huge savings to us: almost six million dollars... Because our contracts are in place, we cant utilize the law. That could make a big difference for us."

The school board asked their representative to put a clause in the budget, signed by the Governor, to allow them to re-open their teachers contract.

They'll have 90 days to negotiate with the union over whether or not they will indeed reopen their contracts.

Numerous unions filed a federal lawsuit asking a Madison judge to drop the collective bargaining limits in the law.

The judge has not yet ruled on a request for an injunction. No hearings are scheduled yet on the case.

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