Collective Bargaining Debate Reopens in Madison

6/3/11 – The battle over collective bargaining was re-opened early this morning by the state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. Majority Republicans voted 11-to-4 just after midnight to make local police and fire-fighters pay more for their pensions and health insurance. They were exempt from such requirements until now. Newly-hired officers would put five-point-eight percent of their salaries toward retirement, and they’d pay 12-percent of their health coverage. Those are the same amounts other state-and-local workers would pay under the law to limit collective bargaining powers that’s now blocked by the courts. The State Supreme Court will hold a hearing Monday on the Walker administration’s request to put the law into effect. The police-and-fire bargaining limits would not be as extensive as the others. Those unions could not bargain over a choice of health plans – but they could still have a say over the total costs. Assembly G-O-P co-chair Robin Vos said the measure gives local governments “reasonable tools” to save money. Senate Democrat Bob Jauch of Poplar said officers knew the move was coming, and they don’t deserve it. Milwaukee Assembly Democrat Tamara Grigsby called it “union busting,” and said it could re-ignite February’s massive Capitol protests over the collective bargaining issue.