Unions are reacting with disappointment though not surprise to Thursday's state Supreme Court ruling upholding Act 10, the legislation that limits public employee unions’ ability to bargain collectively.
Julie Allen, IT Computer Programmer at the Oneida County Courthouse, is on the executive board of Wisconsin’s chapter of AFCSME Council 40, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Allen says Act 10 has created negative changes in the workplace.
“Our voices are silenced at work. Instead of being at the negotiation table, and working cooperatively, it’s now created a world of top-down decision making.”
Allen says she also worries it takes money out of employee pockets and local economies, and discourages people from entering or staying in the public sector.
“Thousands of employees have been driven away from the public service. I mean what message does that send, to people considering public service and teaching? I think it’s really a lot harder today to attract the best people to be public servants in Wisconsin.”
Meanwhile Governor Scott Walker says the changes are good for taxpayers, and have saved the state three billion dollars.
Thursday’s state Supreme Court ruling is the last of several court challenges to Act 10 that have played out over the past few years. All of them have kept the law intact.
Walker’s main Democratic challenger Mary Burke says she would reinstate collective bargaining, but still make public employees pay more for pensions and health insurance.