The nonpartisan Wisconsin State Legislature Legislative Council has released an informational memo on the new Walker rule that gives school boards and other municipalities the "tool" of not including educational and other wage add-ons workers have earned over the years in the calculation of base wages in union contracts. For teachers, this is, on average, 30% of a teacher's salary. While school boards and other municipalities can restore that funding was taken out of the contract, it now "granted at the discretion of the municipal employer.":
As described above, MERA creates the process for collective bargaining on base wages and defines “base wages” as excluding certain types of compensation. This means that any compensation that is not “base wages” is not a subject of collective bargaining and is granted at the discretion of the municipal employer.
Although not defined in MERA itself, “supplemental compensation” generally means pay that is given to an individual in consideration for completion of approved educational courses and that is given as a supplement to the basic pay set for the person’s position. [See, e.g., s. 40.05(4) (b) and (bm), Stats.]
EmR1203 creates the calculation to implement collective bargaining on base wages under MERA in order to determine the maximum amount of base wages that are subject to collective bargaining. “Base wages,” for purposes of EmR1203, excludes supplemental compensation, such as education credits or credentials in pay schedules, overtime, premium pay, lump sum merit pay, performance pay, and extra duty pay.
Given the exclusion of supplemental compensation from base wages, as required by MERA, the base wage rate subject to collective bargaining for a particular general municipal employee position may be different than a person’s actual wage rate. Supplemental compensation, or any wages that are not “base wages,” are not subject to collective bargaining and are granted at the discretion of the municipal employer.
As discussed before, while it is true that school boards and other employers can put back the huge sum of money that was removed for "educational add-ons" and other "add-ons," many school boards will simply not have the money to restore the funding and many short-sighted districts will use the tool to balance their budgets on the backs of teachers.
The Nation's John Nichols, who is also the associate editor of the Capitol Times has been all over this, explaining on Friday that the reason why this isn't big news quite yet is that the new Walker rule is "so draconian, people can't believe it's real."
MTI, the Madison teachers union, has come out strong, saying in a release, "only in Walker's world could a 'cost of living increase' equal a substantial pay cut."
In addition, state reps Mark Pocan, Brett Davis and Sondy Pope-Roberts have both been speaking out about this, with Pope-Roberts saying “these rules allow for teachers’ base pay to be redefined, and I think that’s absurd” and Pocan, framing the debate against Walker's recent bonuses for cronies said, "Ask Wisconsinites if they'd rather take money out of the pockets of experienced public school teachers with advanced education or give raises to a select few: I guarantee you, Wisconsin won't stand with Walker."
Another angle that the Capital Times points out in an editorial is that this will disproportionately hit women:
For the best and the brightest teachers in Wisconsin, a majority of whom happen to be women, Scott Walker's proposal could mean a pay CUT of as much as 30 percent.This is real. ALL of the state's top labor lawyers have reached a consensus that it is real. And as soon as it becomes widely known, Wisconsin is going erupt once again.
For more information, I encourage people to listen to this interview with Tim Hawks, the labor attorney that represents American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin, Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin, Green Bay Education Association and Madison Teachers’ Inc:
Or this interview with (my wife) Katy Lounsbury, whose clients include AFSCME Council 40, Madison Firefighters and Madison Streets Department:
Or this interview with AFSCME Council 24 president, Marty Beil: