Madison Common Council approves union contract

AFSCME Local 60 approved contract earlier this week
Madison Common Council approves union contract

The Madison Common Council voted unanimously Thursday to approve a new contract with the city’s largest employee union.

Under the contract, layoffs will be avoided and the union members will take another pay cut.

Despite the 3 percent pay cut for union workers, about 72 percent of AFSCME Local 60, which represents about 1,100 municipal workers in the city, approved the contract earlier this week.

Mayor Paul Soglin has said the wage cuts will save the city about $900,000 in 2015.

“I consider that to not only be in their best interest, but in our best interest. I’m unwavering in the belief that a strong bargaining unit is not only in the interest of the members but is also in the interest of management,” Soglin said. “We can do it as a team, as we’ve been doing for decades.”

Under the mayor’s advice, the city alders unanimously agreed to approve AFSCME Local 60’s new 2015 contract.

“I think it shows how collective bargaining works for both the city, regular citizens and the city workers,” said Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, Madison Common Council president. 

The contract takes effect when the current one expires in March 2014, and would run for an additional year.

The deal was made possible because a Dane County judge recently ruled that parts of Act 10, a new state law that limited collective bargaining for most public employees, were unconstitutional. While state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen asked the judge to stay his original ruling, unions have been rushing to get new contracts in place.

“The rights we bargain for to have a voice in the workforce with the managers and the city over decades and decades is so valued to continued labor peace that the new contract was extremely important to us, and we’re willing to take a pay cut,” said Tim Birkley, vice president of AFSCME Local 60.

The Council on Thursday also approved contracts for two other, smaller unions — the Madison City Attorneys Association and the Building and Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin.