MATC's Fearful Five
If you're a taxpayer in this area, be afraid. Be very afraid.
A week or so ago, the Milwaukee Area Technical College's board of directors voted 5-4 to open contract negotiations with the union representing the faculty at MATC.
Under Act 10, the rights of public employee unions to bargain have been substantially curtailed. This has resulted in huge savings for various public entities. Implementation of Act 10 is temporarily on hold thanks to an injunction issued by a Dane County Circuit Court Judge. Most observers believe that eventually the constitutionality of Act 10 will be upheld.
Enter the MATC Board.
When Act 10 was originally being considered, the MATC Board rushed to complete a very generous contract with it faculty. That contract is not due to expire until February 15, 2014. Under normal circumstances, negotiations on a new contract would not begin until September of 2013.
In an effort to once again sidestep Act 10, the union at MATC sought to begin negotiating a contract extension. From the perspective of taxpayers, there is absolutely no reason to do this. In the unlikely event that Act 10 is overturned, the union and the board can begin negotiations as originally scheduled. If Act 10 is upheld, the board can use the flexibility that it gives public bodies to shape a fiscally responsible budget moving forward.
In a worst case scenario (for the taxpayers), the MATC board could give the union everything it wants when the contract expires in 2014 regardless of Act 10.
The point is: there is absolutely no advantage to anyone except the union to open contract negotiations at this point.
So who are the "Frightful Five" who put the interests of the union ahead of their responsibility to the taxpayers?
The five voting to re-open negotiations are: (1) Graciela Maizonet, a Machine Builder and Repairer with Master Lock (a union shop); (2) City of Milwaukee Alderman Jose Perez; (3) Bobbie Webber, Union liaison/sales rep for Dental Associates; (4) Lauren Baker, Coordinator for Career and Technical Education at MPS; and (5) Ann Wilson, Manager of Hillside Family Resource Center (a community association tied into the City of Milwaukee Housing Authority).
In other words, the decision re-open contract negotiations was made by one elected official, two people with union ties, a public employee and a manager for a community organization tied to the City.
Notice that nobody in what would typically be considered "Management" voted to re-open the contract.
Typically, in labor negotiations, you have two sides - labor and management (each looking out for the interests of their own constituencies). At MATC, you don't have that division. Rather, you still have a majority of the board more closely aligned to public sector employees and/or labor unions than with the interests of the taxpayers. It's no wonder the taxpayers get shafted.
I don't fault the MATC union for wanting to negotiate a new contract. They obviously (and correctly) feel they can get a better deal now than if/when Act 10 is upheld. The balance to this should have been the MATC Board.
Unfortunately, thanks to MATC's "Fearful Five", there's nobody looking out for the taxpayers.
And that's why everybody forced to pay taxes to support MATC should be afraid - very afraid.