County Executive Authorizes Public Referendum on Collective Bargaining for April Ballot

December 22, 2011
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive 608.267.8823 or cell, 608.843.8858
County Executive

Legislation authorizing an April referendum on collective bargaining for Dane County voters has been signed into law, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today. 


The legislation also affirms the contribution that collective bargaining and workers rights have made to the well-being of all Wisconsin families – advances such as worker safety policies, sick leave, the eight-hour work day, and the forty-hour work week.


“Collective bargaining has been essential to the prosperity of Wisconsin families for decades,” said Parisi.  “Our workers care for the sick and the dying, keep our communities safe, and help our children succeed.  They deserve a seat at the table once more, and Dane County residents deserve to have their voices heard on this important issue.”


The legislation authorizes an advisory referendum question on the countywide ballot for the April 3rd election in 2012, asking “Should all Wisconsin workers have the right to seek safe working conditions and fair pay through collective bargaining?”


Parisi thanked Supervisor Dianne Hesselbein, author of the referendum legislation, and the Dane County Board for their leadership on the issue.


“Wisconsin has such a long history of valuing and protecting it’s workers that it’s hard to believe the events of the past year,” said Hesselbein.  “This referendum will allow our residents to enter the debate, and show their support for working families in Dane County and across the state.”  


This year, Dane County faced a historic budget challenge and a budget deficit of $8 million brought on by deep cuts from the state.  Collective bargaining agreements with Dane County workers helped the county achieve over $2 million in savings for the 2012 budget.


“In Dane County, collective bargaining is how we solve problems,” said Shannon Maier, President of AFSCME Local 720.  “It provides a voice for front-line workers, and because we have leaders like Joe Parisi and our allies on the Dane County Board who respect that voice, we see the county making smarter decisions.  Wisconsin works best when we work together.”

The origins of public sector bargaining originated in Wisconsin in 1959.  Wisconsin was also the birth-place of the nation’s first workers’ compensation law in 1911 and the first unemployment compensation law in 1932.


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