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Unionized police, fire getting pulled into Act 10 provisions

A court gavel
A court gavel

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - More of Wisconsin’s police officers are paying higher pension contributions – even though they’re not required to under the state’s new public union bargaining law.

In Eau Claire, city attorney Steve Nicks says a new two-year agreement has unionized police personnel paying six-point-six-five percent more for their pensions – and it’s generally offset by a total two-year pay raise with the same percentage.Also, the new contract calls for officers to pay eight-percent of their health insurance premiums.

Nicks tells Wisconsin Public Radio that the net result helps the city budget, while taxpayers are basically paying for a wage freeze for officers over the next two years.

Police-and-fire personnel were exempt from the union limits when they were first adopted. But because a judge’s ruling in September tossed out bargaining limits for most local government and public school employees – pending an appeal by the state that’s still going on.

Nicks says Eau Claire Police made a big sacrifice, but it helps the city with its budget.

They’ve been without a new contract since July of last year. Nicks said talks were held up because of uncertainty over the union law – and they were waiting to see how other cities were handling their police contracts.

Nicks says Superior and Kenosha are among other communities that have off-set higher police pension contributions with corresponding wage hikes.