OHR: Impact of budget, budget repair for benefits and collective bargaining


Bob Lavigna, director of the Office of Human Resources, details the the impact of the biennial state budget and budget repair bill on employee benefits and collective bargaining in a memo sent to all UW-Madison employees on July 5.

Dear Colleagues,

On June 14, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a decision that overturned the injunction that was preventing the implementation of Wisconsin Act 10 (budget repair bill). As a result of this decision, Act 10 became law effective Wednesday, June 29. In addition, the governor recently signed Act 32 (2011-13 biennial budget bill), which went into effect on July 1.

The important changes these laws create for employees’ benefits and collective bargaining rights are summarized below.


Union and employee organization dues, and premiums for union-sponsored insurance plans, can no longer be deducted from employees’ paychecks. These deductions will no longer be taken starting with the paychecks issued on July 28 (for employees paid bi-weekly) and August 1 (for employees paid monthly).

Health insurance and retirement contributions will increase. The increased contributions will be taken beginning with the August 25 paycheck (for employees paid bi-weekly) and the September 1 paycheck (for employees paid monthly). These contributions will be taken on a pre-tax basis which means they will not be subject to federal and state tax withholding. Note: Academic year employees who had multiple health insurance deductions taken from their June 1 paychecks will have an adjustment made to reflect the increased amount that should have been paid for the payroll month of August (for September coverage).

Eligibility for participation in the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) will change from 1/3 of full time to 2/3 of full time for those initially hired on or after the effective date of this provision. Employees hired before July 1 are not affected by this specific change.
New WRS participants (employees hired on or after the effective date of this provision) will be subject to a five-year vesting period. Employees hired before July 1 are not affected by this specific change.

For more details on the benefits changes, including the new premium contribution amounts, please click here and here.

Collective Bargaining

To retain the ability to collectively bargain, 51 percent of all employees in a bargaining unit will need to annually vote in favor of recertifying. The title of the employee’s position determines his/her bargaining unit. If a 51 percent majority vote is not achieved, the employees in the bargaining unit will not be represented by a union.

If recertified, unions may bargain only over wages; they are prohibited from bargaining about anything else.

The Faculty and Academic Staff Labor Relations Act (FASLRA), which gave faculty and academic staff the right to collectively bargain, was repealed in its entirety.
In March 2011, the state informed unions that it would no longer agree to extend collective bargaining agreements (the agreements expired in July of 2009 but had been extended in the absence of any new agreements).

However, except for the legally-mandated increased contributions and elimination of union deductions listed above, the state will continue to abide by the agreements covering classified employees until the legislature approves a new compensation plan for all employees, probably in the fall. This compensation plan, along with existing statutes and administrative rules, will cover all other terms and conditions of employment that have been covered by bargaining agreements in the past.

For teaching assistants and program/project assistants, the university will continue to abide by the terms of their contract (except for the increased health insurance premiums and elimination of union dues) and will not make any changes without consultation and discussion.

We know that these are challenging times for UW-Madison employees. We continue to believe that we can work together as a campus to weather the effects of these changes and continue to succeed as a world-class educational/research institution. We also believe that the flexibilities we will realize through the approved biennial budget will help us address these challenges.

As we receive more information on the implementation of Acts 10 and 32, we will share it with the campus community. If you have any questions, please e-mail us at budgetrepair@ohr.wisc.edu.

Bob Lavigna
Office of Human Resources