Collective bargaining reversal could cost local governments - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Collective bargaining reversal could cost local governments millions


Many union leaders say a judge's ruling late last week that found parts of the state's collective bargaining law unconstitutional is a victory. However, some local government officials say going back to the way things were would be very challenging.

Marathon County officials told Newsline 9 that could mean they'd have to come up with millions of dollars if the law was permanently reversed, but right now, there's still a lot of uncertainty.

"What this means, I actually don't know," Marathon County Administrator Brad Karger said.

"It throws uncertainty into the mix," Wausau Human Resources Director Michael Loy said.

City and county leaders said a Dane County judge's ruling, has left them scratching their heads.

"You know I actually don't know what to do with the budget at this point," Karger said about moving forward with plans for 2013.

He said a change to the state's collective bargaining rules now would present a problem.

"There isn't money in the budget to go back," he said.

Karger told Newsline 9 the law saved the county about $4 million dollars by requiring employees to pay more for health insurance and retirement. He also said the law prevented around 30 layoffs.

"There's also no 4 million dollars in a bank somewhere that I can just withdraw and maintain our service levels," Karger said.

Meantime, officials in Wausau said they're also trying to understand the ruling.

"We'll operate whatever the reality of the day is," Michael Loy said. He wouldn't discuss specific numbers, but says permanently reversing the collective bargaining law would have a big impact.

"I think there would be some significant budget implications of that," Loy said.

Neither city nor county leaders would say if there could be layoffs if the collective bargaining law stays reversed.

Both groups said for now, they'll operate as they have been hoping they'll find out sooner than later what is or isn't the law.


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