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Local Governments and School Districts Blog

Supreme Court Refuses to Consider Appeal on Plan Design Issue

The Wisconsin Supreme Court recently announced that it will be considering 13 new cases during its upcoming session. Absent from that announcement was a decision to consider the appeal by the City of Milwaukee Police Union which sought Supreme Court review of a decision over the City implementing changes to the health insurance plan covering police department employees. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals has held that a determination of the amount of payment by police employees for deductibles and co-pays under the City health insurance plan was not a bargainable issue as a result of legislative changes which excluded health insurance plan design from being a bargainable issue for public safety employees.

This non-decision is the latest in the saga over the limits on collective bargaining for public safety employees. The ruling in the Milwaukee County Circuit Court case held that the amount of contribution by the employee for deductibles and co-pays under the health insurance plan was part of "plan design" and therefore not subject to the duty to bargain that still applies to police and fire employees in local government. As a result, local governments are allowed to establish the amount of the deductible and co-pays that would apply, and would not be obligated to negotiate with the union over how much of the deductible and co-pay amounts would be paid by the employer. The local government body has the right to make that determination and implement it for employees without bargaining first with the public safety union.

There are still suggestions that the Legislature will impose all of the Act 10 requirements on public safety unions. The outcome of the Governor election and the agenda of the majority Republicans may well determine whether or not collective bargaining, in its current state, will continue for public safety employees.