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  [WI] Budget would make state's labor-management mediator a political appointee
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Last EditedRP  Mar 15, 2011 06:55pm
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News DateTuesday, March 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionThe lead lawyer for the state agency in charge of settling state labor-management disputes would become a political appointee under a proposal included in Gov. Scott Walker's biennial budget, a change critics say injects political influence into an agency that is supposed to be impartial.

As a political appointee, the general counsel for the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission could be fired more easily, making it more difficult to give impartial advice to the commission, unions and state agencies, said George Fleischli, a Madison lawyer and arbitrator who held the position when it was created in 1975.

"It puts this person is a very difficult position ethically," Fleischli said.

For some 35,000 state employees who will be losing most of their bargaining authority this month under a measure Walker signed last week, it will be the final arbiter in disputes that were previously covered under contract provisions.

Walker said those employees will be protected by existing civil service protections, which include the right to appeal to the WERC. The agency also handles appeals filed by nonunion employees who dispute serious disciplinary actions.
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