As a New Year begins, it’s time for all of us to look ahead and prepare to advance worker rights, good jobs and social and economic justice in Wisconsin.
Since Gov. Walker and Republicans gained control in 2010, Wisconsin has seen major attacks on worker rights and wages, public services, schools and education, and a rollback of transparency and accountability that has weakened our democracy. Throughout this flurry of anti-worker legislation, it has been and will be critical for us in the labor movement to continue to be engaged, to continue to speak up and make our state better for future generations.
We, the people, are our democracy. You, as an individual, are a critical part of making our movement strong. We, at the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, will continue to update you on key pieces of legislation and issues. Together our voice and our collective action are strong and powerful.
The Wisconsin legislature kicks off 2016 with floor sessions on January 12 and 19. Below are some key bills to watch.
Destroying Civil Service Protections, AB373 & SB285. In October 2015, the Assembly introduced and then quickly passed AB 373 a bill that makes dangerous sweeping changes to our civil service system and opens up state employment to partisan politics, patronage and corruption. The Senate is expected to take up the changes this month. These changes will hurt all taxpayers by making it easier to hire and promote individuals with political connections.
Worker’s Compensation. An Agreed-Upon Worker’s Compensation Bill crafted by the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council and strongly supported by the Wisconsin AFL-CIO has been forwarded to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. The Agreed-Upon Bill is the product of lengthy deliberation and intense study by the State of Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council, which is comprised of representatives from management and labor in collaboration with healthcare providers and the insurance community. The Agreed-Upon Bill will help workers who are injured on the job and will also keep costs stable. We support this Agreed-Upon bill and will keep you up to date as it moves forward.
There is a competing bill dealing with Worker’s Compensation which we strongly oppose. The Spiros Worker’s Compensation Destruction Bill, AB501 & SB456, was introduced last year and if implemented would cause serious harm to both workers, business and our respected Wisconsin Workers’ Compensation System. Additionally, there is also a bill, the Real Estate Changes Law SB375 and AB456, that contains a harmful provision related to worker’s compensation for real estate agents. We are urging the legislature to amend this bill in order to protect all injured workers including those who work for real estate agencies.
As union members and citizens of Wisconsin it is our duty to fight for good wages, safe workplaces, family-supporting jobs and a strong, fair and vibrant economy.
We can and we must continue to work together to create family-supporting jobs and advance the lives of workers through collective action, collective bargaining and strong union rights.