The UW Board of Regents has approved new personnel policies that essentially eliminate collective bargaining by campus labor unions. Only two regents voted against the plan that comes in response to the legislature's passage last year of ACT 10 restricting the bargaining rights of all state employees.
Act 10 stripped public employee unions of all bargaining rights except the right to bargain wage increases up to the annual rise in the consumer price index. The new shared governance structure approved by the Regents this week changes among other things seniority rules and the grievance procedure for employees who face layoffs or disciplinary action. In voting against the plan Regent John Drew says it will hurt for both employees and the university. He also criticized the campus-wide discussions that led to the plan, "Surveys, websites, work teams, etc. are in my opinion an inadequate substitute for collective bargaining where workers and management sit down as equals and negotiate."
But Regent Gerald Whitburn who voted with the majority in favor of the policies says they represent a recognition of the value of the work that the formerly unionized staff still do for the university, "The over 12,000 men and women in this new workforce make it possible for the smooth efficient and safe operation of all the facilities, offices and programs that we have throughout the UW System. Needless to say these positions and the people in them are critical to all aspects of university operations."
The UW Madison Faculty Senate approved the new policies on Monday. But they must still be approved by the state legislature. Union activists throughout the UW System hope they can negotiate for changes in them before they are finalized next July.
A note of disclosure: the new UW personnel policies will affect employees at Wisconsin Public Radio