Mayor Steve Ponto: Act 10 Ruling 'Very Unfortunate' But Not Impactful
Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto says he believes a Dane County circuit judge's ruling striking down parts of Act 10 will not upend the city's contracts with its five employee unions.
City officials said Monday they believe their existing union contracts will not be upended by a Dane County judge's ruling Friday reinstating some public employee collecting bargaining rights.
Mayor Steve Ponto called the ruling "very unfortunate" and said it should have no impact on the city's 2013 budget.
"The entire state has been through a lot in the last 18 months and this decision by a Dane County Circuit Judge is, I believe, very unfortunate," Ponto said. "I hope and trust the decision will be stayed pending appeal.
"I also have confidence that our court system will ultimately uphold the Act 10 legislation which was passed by both houses of the Legislature, signed by the governor, and implicitly supported by the voters in subsequent recall elections," Ponto said.
Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas on Friday struck down collective bargaining restrictions on local government and school workers, ruling Act 10 was unconstitutional.
The city of Brookfield has contracts with all five of its employee unions that last until Dec. 31, 2014.
City's union contracts approved before Act 10
All but one were ratified and approved months prior to Act 10's passage in 2011. They contain negotiated agreements on a variety of working conditions, not just inflation-capped wages as Act 10 limits for future contracts.
However, three of those four unions agreed to re-open their contracts to make pension contributions sought in Act 10 — in exchange for slightly higher raises. The only one that did not: the police union.
Act 10 largely exempted police and fire from the collective bargaining restrictions. They can continue to negotiate a gamut of economic and noneconomic working conditions.
The city's fire union was the only one without a new contract approved when Act 10 was passed. Firefighters reached an agreement post-Act 10 agreeing to make the pension contributions.
City employees not represented by any union — largely department heads and other supervisory positions — have been making the pension contributions since August 2011.
Jim Zwerlein, the city's human resources director, said, "We believe there will be no immediate effect on the City of Brookfield, as we have valid agreements with four of our five unions that provide for employee pension contributions through 2014."
If Friday's ruling striking parts of Act 10 is upheld, Zwerlein said he believed it would only affect future contracts starting in 2015.
"The worst effect on the City of Brookfield would be having to bargain on all of the traditional subjects of bargaining rather than being limited to bargaining base wages, starting in 2015," he said.
But for other municipalities in the middle of negotiations and trying to stablize labor-management relations, Zwerlein said, "My hope is the Judge's order will be stayed until reviewed by the Appellate Court."