An interesting report out of Wisconsin today, where Madison police and firefighters have agreed to contract changes that will save the city $2.3 million next year. From the Madison Capital-Times:
Although police and firefighters are exempt from the state’s new collective bargaining law, which stripped most public collective bargaining rights, those unions marched with protesters at the State Capitol earlier this year and renegotiated contracts to help ease the city’s financial strains, leaders said.
“We decided long ago this isn’t a time to stand on your own,” firefighters union President Joe Conway Jr. said. “You have to work with everybody.
Police union board member Brian Austin added, “It doesn’t have to be heavy-handed. Collective bargaining is alive and well in the state of Wisconsin.”
The two sides aren’t revealing yet what changes union leaders agreed to.
It’s important to remember that, as today’s report points out, Governor Walker exempted police and firefighters from this year’s bill stripping union rights from public workers (and that the police and firefighters spoke out against the bill). For the rest of Wisconsin’s public employees, says one labor historian, the landscape may look more like “collective begging” than collective bargaining.