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On April 14, 2011, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker testified before Congress that he started drafting the notorious Act 10 that stripped collective bargaining rights from most state employees in December, after Democrats in the state legislature attempted to pass pro-union contracts in a lame duck session after he won the election. But documents obtained by WTDY News in Wisconsin show that the Act was actually being worked on in November, just weeks after Walker was elected. Walker tried to tell Congress that he was just reacting to aggressive moves by Democrats, when, in reality, he planned to go after the rights of working families, it seems, from the very beginning.
Regarding the process in which Governor Walker went about achieving concessions from state employees, Walker thought it was important to put in the record that, "In December, after the elections but before I was sworn into office, the public sector unions and the state rushed to the lame-duck session Legislature and to the Governor and tried to pass through contracts that would have locked us into a dire financial situation.”
But drafting documents obtained by WTDY News from the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau reveal that Act 10 was actually being drafted in November, just weeks after Walker was elected governor. As lawmakers struggled to pass state worker contracts in December of 2010, a non-partisan state attorney was already hard at work drafting the very provision in ACT 10 that stripped away bargaining rights for nearly all public employees in Wisconsin.
Cathlene Hanaman is the Deputy Chief at the Legislative Reference Bureau and has drafted all the collective bargaining changes in recent years, which she says were always minor until Governor Walker was elected. When shown an email she sent to another non-partisan bill drafter on December 3rd, 2010, Hanaman confirmed that the legislation described in the email was part of a project she had been assigned in November and that veteran Department of Administration budget staffers were working with her on behalf of then governor-elect Walker. In the email, the intent of the legislation lists “prohibiting public employee union from collectively bargaining over health care benefits.” An undated memo entitled “Alternative Approach to Collective Bargaining,” given to Hanaman at an early meeting with Department of Administration staffers, lays out plans to prohibit any state or local public employer from collecting union dues, require public sector unions to vote to recertify each year, and allow police and firefighter unions to keep all their bargaining rights.
Barely a week after being elected, Walker made the unprecedented move of asking then-Governor Jim Doyle to halt negotiations on long overdue state labor contracts. Walker said he wanted the negotiations stopped so he could deliver on his campaign promise to help balance the budget by bringing benefit contribution levels for state employees more in line with the private sector. But democrats brought the Legislature back for a rare lame duck session in mid-December despite repeated objections from Walker.
In his testimony before Congress, Walker cited this lame-duck session as the catalyst for Act 10. “When people ask why we didn’t begin by negotiating, the tone was set early on by the process that was taken – after the election but before we were sworn in – and that’s why it became clear to us that we need to empower our state and local government to make those sort of long-term changes.”