MADISON, Wis. — School boards and local governments across Wisconsin are rushing to reach agreements with unions before a new law takes effect that will remove their ability to collectively bargain over nearly all issues other than minimal salary increases.
Secretary of State Doug La Follette said yesterday that he decided to delay publication of the law until the latest day possible, March 25, to give those local governments as much time as possible to reach agreements. The law doesn’t take effect until the day after La Follette publishes it.
Governor Scott Walker had asked La Follette to publish the law yesterday, but the Democratic secretary of state, who called the new law the biggest change in labor management history in 50 years, said he didn’t see any emergency that warranted doing that.
La Follette said he heard from many schools, cities, and counties urging him to delay enactment of the law as long as possible. Waiting the full 10 days afforded under the law is the usual practice of his office, La Follette said.
The law is also being challenged in court. A hearing on that lawsuit, brought by the Democratic Dane County executive, was scheduled for tomorrow. A request for an emergency injunction to block the law was rejected Friday.
The new law would not affect collective bargaining agreements already in place, fueling the decision by unions to reach deals as quickly as possible.
The law ends collective bargaining for public workers over everything except salary increases no greater than inflation. It also forces state workers to make benefit concessions that amount to an 8 percent pay cut on average.
The Wisconsin Association of School Boards is telling districts to be cautious about approving contracts that will make it more difficult for them to handle the cuts in aid Walker is seeking.