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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

 12:09 PM 

Senate debating union approval in work-share programs after approving smaller bills

The Senate is onto debate over a bill that would allow employers to participate in work-share programs that reduce workers hours in order to prevent layoffs.

The Democrats have objected to the lack of a provision in the bill that would require any work-share program to be approved by the collective bargaining unit for that work place. Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, drafted an amendment that would restore that language saying that since the bill deals with negotiation of wages and other worker considerations, it should be included.

"Over the last session or so, my colleagues have talked about the importance of certainty for business," Lassa said. "By approving this amendment it makes sure that there is certainty for business that have union employees by making sure that they are able to work together."

Lassa and other Democrats also said the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council sent a letter urging the language to be added in order to avoid unnecessary legal action.

Republicans have said Lassa's provision is redundant given federal guidelines that direct employers to work with their employees on work-share plans.

Sen. Paul Farrow, R-Pewaukee, asked whether those employers would have to negotiate with unions regardless of the current language of the bill. Jauch countered that the UIAC letter indicated that there could be additional legal "confrontation" without the provision. Farrow then said that these programs are still subject to National Labor Relations Board standards and that they'd have to follow those standards.

"So, I fail to see how were trying to single-handedly change collective bargaining," Farrow said.

Lassa said that DWD does not follow up to see if private employers are complying with those federal regulations.

"If you say that you are in support of collective bargaining for private sector unions, then you should adopt this amendment, it's crystal clear," Lassa said.

Among other bills passed already was SB 35, a bill that would allow American Transmission Company to invest in out-of-state projects. Only Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, voted against the measure.


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