Judge sides with workers in collective bargaining suit - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Judge sides with workers in collective bargaining suit


CHIPPEWA FALLS (WKOW)--In a case being called a first of its kind in the state, a Chippewa County judge on Monday sided with two public workers in a dispute surrounding collective bargaining.

Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer and County Treasurer Larry Lokken filed suit after the county started taking money out of their paychecks to pay their retirement benefits. 

The two men claimed the state constitution prohibits raising or lowering compensation during an elected official's term.

The county believed compensation did not include benefits. 

Today, a Chippewa County judge sided with Cramer and Lokken. 

The county was ordered to reimburse them for the money that's been taken out.  In Cramer's case, he says that's $180 a paycheck.  Both men are also entitled to have their legal fees paid by the county.

Harry Hertel, the attorney who represented both Cramer and Lokken in court, says he thinks the decision will set a precedent for other counties that could be considering forcing their elected officials to cover the cost of their retirement benefits and health insurance premiums after recent changes to collective bargaining. 

The county lawyer says a decision has not been made on whether to appeal.

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