Eau Claire (WQOW) - One major union says it will demand new contract negotiations in light of Friday's court ruling.
On Friday, a Dane County judge threw out parts of Act 10, calling the law unconstitutional. That law effectively ended collective bargaining for most public workers.
Wisconsin Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen says, "We believe he is wrong in the law. We are ultimately going to appeal that decision. However in the meantime, there is an awful lot of confusion that has been created by it. We think it's really imperative that the will of the people, through the voice of the governor and the legislature, to be allowed to stand until we have a higher court actually rule on the decision that he has entered."
The attorney general says, Tuesday, he'll ask a judge to put the ruling on hold as he appeals the case. Van Hollen says if the judge fails to grant a stay, it could create chaos.
Monday, the Madison Teachers Union said it now wants new contract negotiations with its district based on Friday's decision. WQOW News 18 wanted to know what local unions are thinking. News 18 spoke with the head of the Eau Claire Teachers Union Monday to get an answer.
When the governor signed Act 10 into law last year, school districts went to work on new employee handbooks. Eau Claire Area School District Human Resources Director Kay Marks says, "When it's change that's very emotional for people, that's challenging." Those changes could be felt on Monday as the Eau Claire School Board met with the teachers union to discuss a contract.
"Educational credits, years of service, longevity, all those types of payments which are considered supplemental increments, those we all used to be able to discuss in terms of bargaining and now those are all off the table," says Marks. Now, the only thing up for negotiation is a base wage increase, which is linked to the cost of living.
In the background of negotiating under the new rules, there's uncertainty because of Friday's court ruling. Ron Martin, the President of the Eau Claire Association of Educators, says, "It just affirms what we have been saying all along. Why are we being singled out as public employees and why are we being restricted from being able to bargain?"
Marks says,"Procedures and processes were just getting underway, we were beginning to work under a new system, and now it just kind of feels like... ok... here's just one more upheaval."
One question is whether Friday's ruling applies statewide, even though the plaintiffs were from Madison and Milwaukee.
Martin says, "We kind of are a part of the lawsuit, as WEAC, our parent organization for the teachers association, they funded the lawsuit on behalf of the Madison teachers. They were the forefront but really it's being funded by all of our unions dues dollars."
WQOW News 18 asked Martin whether Friday's ruling could have an immediate impact in Eau Claire.
Martin says, "We're not going to come in right away and demand all of these things, because there is going to be a time, there is going to be a process. I understand there is going to be some appeals, I'm sure. But, we're going to work very collaboratively with our administrators because we want to make this the very best school system possible."
So for now, business will continue under the new employee handbook.
"The school board has every intention of treating all our employee groups, the best that they can, with the fiscal perimeters that they have. And so, regardless of what's happening politically, that doesn't change that," said Kay Marks.
The contract negotiations Monday were set up well before Friday's court decision. In previous years, the contract could be up to 40 pages long. That's been reduced to just over a page.
No agreement was reached in that meeting Monday. It's still in the early stages. Under the cost of living guidelines, the maximum base wage increase is 3.16%.
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