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Anti-union Gov. takes aim at Wis. police, fire

Despite past endorsements, Gov. Walker is looking to curb fire and police unions' collective bargaining powers

By PoliceOne Staff

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — After sparing firefighters and police officers from union restrictions, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he is now open to the idea of limiting their ability to collectively bargain.

JSonline reported that the unions for Milwaukee officers and firefighters endorsed Walker in 2010 and 2012 and such a move would go against one of the few unions he’s been able to find support in.

Now, more than two year since the law known as Act 10 has been operating, Walker said he would be willing to put the restrictions in place for police and firefighters, according to the report.

"I think now for those areas, having seen that the world didn't come to an end for all your municipal employees and county employees, there might be a greater opening going forward because they'd say, 'Hey things worked out,'" Walker said.

Under Act 10, unions cannot negotiate over issues such as working conditions, overtime, health care, sick leave and vacation, according to the report. They can seek raises that are no greater than the rate of inflation, according to the report.

While Walker did not put the same collective bargaining constraints on police and firefighters, he did take away their ability to negotiate over the design of their health insurance plans, according to the report.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Monday that the unequal status of public employee unions was unhealthy for local government, according to the report.

"It is not good management to have a situation where firefighters are pitted against sanitation workers, and it is not good management to have a situation where police officers are pitted against public health nurses and librarians," Barrett said.

At the time Act 10 was debated, unions warned that Walker might spare police and firefighters for the time being but would eventually go after them, according to the report.

"We know that his intention is to destroy unions and it's just not going to happen," Christina Brey, a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Education Association Council, said.

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