Something Tells Me This Might Be a Problem

I just find these things.  It’s going to be up to all the crazy Walker-haters what they want to do with it.

Mil­wau­kee Mayor Tom Bar­rett, one of two top Democ­rats run­ning to unseat Wis­con­sin Gov­er­nor Scott Walker in a recall elec­tion dri­ven by bat­tles over labor union rights, also sought to scale back col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing power in a con­fi­den­tial pro­posal obtained by BuzzFeed.

Bar­rett is fac­ing for­mer Dane County Exec­u­tive and labor favorite Kath­leen Falk in a Demo­c­ra­tic Pri­mary May 9. The Feb­ru­ary, 2011 pro­posal obtained by Buz­zFeed helps explain why labor has sided against Bar­rett: Floated amid the bat­tles in Madi­son, Barrett’s plan would have lim­ited col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights on health insur­ance, over­time hours, and pen­sion for union­ized city workers.

Though Falk and Bar­rett have sought to keep their focus on Walker and avoid pri­mary frat­ri­cide, some of the state’s labor unions have been less sub­tle. The Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of State, County and Munic­i­pal Employ­ees spurred con­tro­versy by cir­cu­lat­ing an edited video from an inter­view Bar­rett gave to a con­ser­v­a­tive radio host in a way that sug­gested that he backed Walker’s bill. AFSCME later walked back the video, call­ing it “over the top.” Bar­rett sup­ported some parts of the bill at the time, in par­tic­u­lar pro­vi­sions that required pub­lic employ­ees to pay more for health insur­ance and pensions.

In the pro­posal obtained by Buz­zFeed on Mon­day, dated Feb. 24, 2011, Barrett’s office pro­poses to AFSCME and AFL-CIO Dis­trict 48 that the new con­tract with the city elim­i­nate an arti­cle in the exist­ing con­tract deal­ing with hours of work, as well as lim­it­ing pen­sion ben­e­fits and elim­i­nat­ing parts of an arti­cle deal­ing with health insur­ance — in effect lim­it­ing the union’s abil­ity to col­lec­tively bar­gain in a man­ner Barrett’s labor foes com­pare to Walker’s Act 10.

[Kevin — The day after this pro­posal was sub­mit­ted, the flee­ing to Illi­nois was on for a week already.  Might explain why it didn’t make head­lines at the time.  (Cor­rec­tion from ear­lier posting.)]

The union coun­tered with a pro­posal push­ing back on the city’s alter­ations, but on Jan­u­ary 1st, the new con­tract with Milwaukee’s changes went into effect. A union source said the con­tract includes the new lim­its on col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing, but not the pen­sion reductions.

Wisconsin’s Act 10 went into effect on July 1st of last year, over­rid­ing much of the agree­ment between Mil­wau­kee and labor.

Bar­rett, mean­while, says he’ll roll back Walker’s assault on the unions. He coun­tered the AFSCME video, <a href=“http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obfWS1bmMrA” onclick=“javascript:_gaq.push([’_trackEvent’,‘outbound-article’,‘http://www.youtube.com’]);” rel=“prettyPhoto[g12957]””>telling reporters that “I have said I will restore col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights in this state.”

Barrett’s spokesman Phil Walzak said that the pro­posal was part of ongo­ing nego­ti­a­tions at the time between the unions and the city, and pointed out that the City of Mil­wau­kee hasn’t held lay­offs this year, cur­rent employ­ees con­tinue to pay noth­ing towards their pen­sion, and there haven’t been wage decreases.

This is not elim­i­nat­ing rights, this was a nego­ti­a­tion about ben­e­fits. It was back and forth in a bar­gain­ing process,” said Walzak. “This is the col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing process at work.”

Buz­zFeed is a lib­eral pub­li­ca­tion (more or less) headed by for­mer Politico writer Ben Smith.

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