PEOPLE-Local 645

  • Quality of Life Alliance

Color Me Unimpressed

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on April 4, 2010

As is my wont, I have subscribed to the E-Notify system to get all the updates on happenings involving the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County.

One of the things that recently arrived in my mailbox was the most recent enewsletter from County Supervisor Patricia Jursik. To put it mildly, it left me rather unimpressed.

The first entire page was dedicated to her mission of not only repairing the Hoan Bridge, but even expanding it. I’ve already addressed why the Hoan Bridge should not be a priority at Milwaukee County First.

Then Jursik has some stuff that might sound good on the surface, but in reality, is less what it seems:

Labor Contracts Achieved

Milwaukee County and two unions have approved labor contracts. TEAMCO (Technicians, Engineers, and Architects) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers agreed to accept concessions in contracts effective through 2011. As chair of the Personnel Committee, I would like to thank the members for coming to an agreement with the County during times of financial stress.

Supervisor Jursik Sponsors 401k-style Pension Proposal

I introduced a resolution before the Personnel Committee to study a 401k-style pension for all elected county officials (supervisors, executive, sheriff, register of deeds, clerk of court, county clerk & treasurer).

By creating a 401k-style pension, elected officials would avoid a conflict of interest in dealing with employee benefits since they no longer would be covered under the pension plan. Staff must return to the Personnel Committee no later than July 31 with a report.

I am pleased that the County Executive has also spoken favorably of a 401k-style pension system.

I also supported the proposal to reduce the pension multiplier for elected officials to match the reduction given to our employees.

As for the union contracts, these two unions combined would barely add up to 50 workers. They are not very big and thus do not have a lot of resources they could devote to a long mediation or arbitration, and all the legal battles. Touting reaching a contract with them would be akin to boasting about taking candy from a baby.

What Jursik does not mention is how they gave the nurses union a big raise and then approved a collateral contract agreement in which the nurses would be allowed to skip the furlough days in exchange for four minor holidays. (Minor holidays are ones like Veterans Day, the Friday after Thanksgiving, MLK’s Birthday and President’s Day. Workers can takes these days off on those holidays or they can choose to save the days and use them at a later time.)

The 401k plan is also not the best of ideas. Taking the county’s pension system and merging it with the state’s system would take the conflict out as well. But the merger would have the bonus of saving the county tax payers over $10 million dollars worth of administrative costs.

And the decrease in the pension multiplier is an empty gesture at best, since it is not likely to ever be passed. It is just feeding into Scott Walker’s campaign talking points. And anyone who follows this blog would have already deduced that Walker’s stance of cutting his own pension multiplier via waiver is a gimmick, since he knows darn well that if he does somehow make it through the primary, and then really beats the odds by winning the election, his pension goes back up to 2% as governor, which is where the state system is at. And I have not heard Walker make on mention of cutting that one.

As I said before, this might play well to her constituents, as long as they aren’t paying too close attention to what is really going on. But that doesn’t mean her choices are the best ones, or even good ones.

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