Superior council plans union extension ahead of Walker planby Bob Kelleher, Minnesota Public Radio
Duluth, Minn. — The Superior, Wisconsin City Council will consider extending the contracts of city employee unions next week, to avoid proposed new restrictions on public labor unions.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is pushing a plan to strip public labor unions of most their collective bargaining rights, while limiting public employee wage increases to the cost of living.
Superior City Council member Greg Mertzig said his proposal would ratify two-year contract extensions for as many as three of the city's four bargaining units.
Mertzig said a new state law cannot supercede a local contract already in place.
"It will grandfather them in to not be affected by Gov. Walker's proposal, in an effort to retain their workers rights, essentially, because the current contracts will trump the state law," Mertzig said.
An extension would freeze wages, but retain the rights of the public labor unions to collectively bargain with the city, he said.
"We want to preserve the collective bargaining and the whole laundry list of other rights that would be otherwise stripped away in the Walker bill," he said.
Mertzig said Superior's firefighters have asked to be exempt from a contract extension. The governor's plan would not affect firefighters or police officers.
Mertzig said Superior's clerical and public works bargaining units will vote on the extension proposal Monday, before the council meeting Tuesday.