Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk on Friday blasted Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to take away almost all bargaining rights from public workers.
The proposal would unravel four decades of collective bargaining that's used mediation and arbitration instead of strife and strikes to settle labor issues, Cieslewicz said.
"It's a fundamental change in the way all local governments relate to their employees," he said. "You're going to go back to the period when the only recourse workers have is to strike. I don't think that's in anybody's best interest."
Falk, anger in her voice, called the proposal a "radical, draconian reaction ... bolstered by the speed by which he is shoving this through the Legislature."
Employees may face hundreds of dollars in new monthly costs for health insurance and pensions and lose bargaining rights on work rules and other contract provisions, said Jennifer McCulley, staff representative for the local public employees union, which represents about 2,500 workers in Madison and surrounding communities and school districts.
"They're mad, they're scared, they're worried," she said.
Walker, seeking to address current and projected budget shortfalls, would repeal rights to all collective bargaining except for wages for most state and local workers. Police and firefighters would be exempt.
Cieslewicz and Falk are still studying the bill, made public Friday.
The governor is also vowing to cut state aid to municipalities, expecting the cut could be partially covered by passing some health care and pension costs to workers.
Madison got $51.6 million in state aids in 2010. Employees pay an average of one half-percent of salaries for health care and the city the rest, costing $25.6 million in 2011. City employees don't contribute to pensions, a $33.5 million expense this year.
Cieslewicz said most city unions have contracts through 2011 or 2012, so cuts in state aid initially would be covered by service cuts, not employee contributions.
Walker's proposal is unnecessary because the city, county and unions have negotiated cuts to save millions of dollars during the economic turndown, Cieslewicz and Falk said.
"There's a fair and responsible way to do this," Falk said. "Gov. Walker hasn't even tried to do that. He chose a sledgehammer."