Waukesha union, school district negotiate salary increase after Act 10 ruling

WAUKESHA -- One of three lawsuits involving Wisconsin's Act 10 was heard Monday, September 24th in a federal appeals court in Chicago.

Act 10 restricts collective bargaining for most public employees.

In March, a U.S. District Judge overturned part of the law, requiring unions hold elections every year for members to retain their official status.

Earlier in September, a Dane County judge threw out major parts of the law. The state is also appealing that ruling.

Also Monday, the Waukesha Teachers' Union sat down with the Waukesha School District to begin negotiating a salary increase for the 2011-2012 school year. Last school year's negotiations were delayed after the chaos caused by Act 10's passage.

"There was a lot of uncertainty at the time that our prior contract expired," Waukesha School Board President Dan Warren said.

The meeting was scheduled for last Monday, but was postponed following the Dane County judge's ruling that parts of Act 10 are unconstitutional.

It is unclear at this time whether the union will attempt to bargain as if Act 10 is no longer in place and whether the union will assume restrictions for base salaries still apply.

"There`s a lot of uncertainty with the judge`s ruling about Act 10 as to whether or not we have to abide by that formula for base wage," Education Association of Waukesha President Cathy Atkinson said.

The Waukesha School District put forth an initial proposal for a .5% wage increase over the 2010-2011 salaries, assuming Act 10 is still in place.

"Our opinion is it doesn`t affect Waukesha County or our school district, so we`re bargaining as if Act 10 is in place," Waukesha School Board President Dan Warren said.

The union said it will need more time to draft its own initial proposal and learn the impacts of the Dane County Judge's ruling. They'll likely schedule their first bargaining session for November.

Meanwhile, the Madison School Board late Monday night agreed to enter collective bargaining negotiations immediately with its employee unions. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the current contracts were approved quickly before Act 10 passed and expire in 2013.

Wisconsin's Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has filed a stay request, asking that the Dane County judge's ruling be put on hold while an appeal is pending.

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