Same Day Ratification of State Contracts May Be Unprecedented, Legislature Was Given Average of Nine Days to Review JCOER Action on Last Contracts

[Madison, Wisc…] If the full legislature votes later today on more than a dozen union contracts that will have passed a legislative review committee only hours before, it may be unprecedented in state history. It definitely has not happened in the last decade.

Legislative Fiscal Bureau Memo dated July 7, 2010

The 2009-2011 labor agreements with 16 of the state’s 19 government employee unions will be the subject of a hearing today by the Joint Committee on Employment Review. Also today, legislative Democrats are calling both the State Assembly and State Senate into extraordinary session to consider the compacts.

By the end of the day, both houses may have voted on the measures, in a display of legislative haste on employee agreements  that may have never before witnessed at the Capitol in Madison.

For example, according to the non partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (see graphic) for the last two sessions, the full legislature had an average of more than a week to review contracts approved by JCOER.

MacIver News is in the midst of further research in the matter, however we can report that in the last decade (a period that included governors of and legislative control by both parties), never has the full legislature voted on state contracts the same day JCOER approved them. 

The average time between JCOER action and legislative approval for the nineteen 2007-09 government union contracts was 9.4 days.  For the 2005-2007 agreements, the average was 7.7 days. The session earlier saw teh 2003-05 contracts approved by the legislature on average more than two weeks (15.5 days) after JCOER approved them.

Often in the last decade, individual contracts were approved the same week of JCOER action, but the minimum gap has always been two days. Such was the case with teh 2001-03 collective bargaining agreements, which passed JCOER on May 5, 2003 and were approved by the Legislature May 7th.

Although it is unknown whether legislative Democrats, who maintain majorities in both houses until January 3rd, have the votes to pass the labor agreements with 16 government employee unions, it is possible these contracts will be resolved by the end of the day.

Only once in the 162-year history of the State has the Wisconsin Legislature met in a lame duck session to approve labor accords, when one contract was ratified in 1974.