B.C. Labour Fed-Solidarity With Wisconsin Public Sector Employees
|B.C. Federation of Labour Solidarity Statement:
Solidarity With Wisconsin Public Sector Employees
The affiliates of the B.C. Federation of Labour stand in solidarity with their brothers and sisters who are under attack by the newly-elected Republican government of Wisconsin.
The “Budget Repair Bill” recently adopted by the state’s House of Representatives includes Draconian measures designed to address the state’s budget problems by eliminating fundamental rights of Wisconsin public employees, cutting their real wages and attempting to destroy their unions. The Bill also imposes a duty on local governments in Wisconsin to impose similar measures, regardless of their fiscal situation or policy choices.
Rather than working together with public employees to address the fiscal challenges of the state, the Governor has chosen to create confrontation with a ruthless attack, as part of a union-busting campaign against the rights of all working people. This agenda has been proposed and pursued by the very corporations and their conservative political allies that are responsible for the economic policies that have undermined good jobs, living wages and public finances throughout North America and other developed countries.
The B.C. Federation of Labour will call on affiliates to take whatever actions are possible to offer support for the efforts of Wisconsin’s labour movement and progressive forces to oppose this legislation. Our Federation will act in concert with national and international labour bodies to assist and support these workers, and others who may be subject to similar attacks.
The Elements of the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill
Directed at Public Sector Employees
The following provisions of the Bill apply to State, Local Government and School District employees:
· Employers prohibited from collecting union dues
· “Right to Work” – public employees cannot be required to pay union dues.
· Annual votes required to maintain certification as a union.
Collective bargaining elimination:
The Bill prohibits collective bargaining for:
· Home healthcare workers funded under the Medicaid program.
· Family childcare workers.
· University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics (UWHC) employees
· University of Wisconsin faculty and academic staff
Collective bargaining restrictions (Public safety personnel are exempted from changes):
· Limits collective bargaining to wages only.
· Total wage increases cannot exceed the Consumer Price Index (CPI) unless approved by referendum.
· Contracts limited to one year term and wages frozen until a new contract is settled.
Public Employee Compensation
Pension and Benefit Exclusion
· Term employees in eligible for health insurance or participation in the pension plan.
· State, school district and municipal employees in the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) will be required to contribute 50 percent of annual pension contributions.
· State employees required to pay at least 12.6 percent of the average cost of annual premiums, double the current average.
· Changes to plan design necessary to reduce current premiums by 5 percent will be implemented.
· Local government employers prohibited from paying more than 88 percent of the premiums for the lowest cost health insurance plan.
· Employees can be required to undergo “health risk assessments” and participate in “wellness” programs.
Future Modifications to Public Pension System and Insurance Plans:
· The bill mandates a report on possible changes to the WRS, including defined contribution plans and longer vesting periods. The study must also report on changes to the current state health insurance plans, including privatization and high-deductible insurance options.
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Jim Sinclair - President
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