Gov. Scott Walker opens door to Act 10 expansion

MADISON (WITI) -- Act 10 is arguably the most controversial law the state of Wisconsin has seen in a generation. The law limited most collective bargaining powers for most public employees. Police and fire unions were exempted from the reforms, but now, Gov. Scott Walker has suggested expanding Act 10 to include those unions.

"I think now, for those areas, having seen that the world didn't come to an end for other municipal employees, there might be a greater opening going forward because they'd say, 'hey, you know, things worked out,'" Gov. Walker said Monday, July 29th.

The remarks came at a public policy forum at UW-Milwaukee's downtown Milwaukee campus.

In the uproar over the law curtailing collective bargaining powers for state employees, like teachers and nurses, two major unions were exempted.

Gov. Walker says the reason for that was public safety.

"If I had one jurisdiction where somebody walked off, or didn't come to work or slowed down on things, and someone was injured or killed because of that -- I said I can't deal with that," Gov. Walker said.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says that exemption was unfair.

"It is not good management to have a situation where firefighters are pitted against sanitation workers, and it's not good management to have a situation where police officers are pitted against public health nurses or librarians," Mayor Barrett said.

Standing in front of city employees, Barrett said 60% of Milwaukee's operating costs go toward the Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee Fire Department, so Barrett says Act 10 didn't give him the right tools to deal with the budget.

"Local units of government have -- if you want to call them tools -- the ability to play hardball with the people behind us, but it's a much different situation when it come to the other unions," Mayor Barrett said.

Gov. Walker says he won't propose the expansion of Act 10, but he would consider it if bills passed through the Legislature.

Gov. Walker repeated his assertion that he's not out to destroy unions, saying "the unions that offer value will continue to see members," both in the public and private sector.

Gov. Walker is expected to speak about his battle over Act 10 to the rest of the nation's governors later this week, when Milwaukee hosts the National Governors Association conference.