MADISON (WKOW) -- Now that parts of Act 10 have been declared unconstitutional, Dane County is taking advantage of its ability to collectively bargain with the county's AFSCME employees.
The Dane County Board of Supervisors approved a new contract through 2015 Thursday night.
County Executive Joe Parisi announced Thursday that the tentative, one-year agreement gives the county flexibility to achieve nearly $5 million in personnel savings county-wide if needed to preserve core public services.
Parisi said the savings would be achieved by wage reductions of up to 1.9 percent (equivalent to five furlough or closure days) and employee participation in an unpaid voluntary leave program.
The county's workforce is currently operating under an existing contract through 2013. A one year successor agreement for 2014 was also approved back in January of 2011.
Last Friday, Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas struck down parts of the collective bargaining law. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has filed for a stay on the ruling. Gov. Scott Walker has said he believes Act 10 will be upheld on appeal.
"This has been a little bit quicker this time because we don't know how much time we have to use this tool in our chest to be able to negotiate with employees," Dane County Supervisor Sharon Corrigan said before the board meeting.
The Board ultimately voted 29-8 in favor of the agreement. Supervisor David Wiganowsky was among those who voted against the contract. "It's a real fast push to get something through and it just appears like there's more political favors going on here than an actual contract," he said.
Several people spoke at the board meeting both in favor and against the agreement. Some community members voiced concern over the speed of the process and its impact on their taxes.
Parisi did not speculate about what would happen if Act 10 is upheld, but said the county is operating under the law right now, which allows for collective bargaining with county employees.
On Wednesday, the Board released a letter signed by 22 members in support of collective bargaining between Dane County government and its unionized employees. The letter goes on to say, "Dane County has a history of tough but fair bargaining which respects the voice of our employees and which has saved taxpayers millions of dollars in recent years. We are determined to continue that tradition as allowed by law."
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