Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

County Announces Protections for County Workforce, First-Ever Employee Handbook

August 15, 2013
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 843-8858; Karin Peterson Thurlow, Office of the Dane County Board (608) 266-5758; Neil Rainford, AFSCME Council 40 (608) 836-4040
County Executive



Guidelines Preserve County’s Tradition of Partnering with Workers

The county is taking steps to preserve the rights of its workforce and maintain open and fair communication throughout county government under the restrictions of Act 10, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and officials from the Dane County Board announced today.


“For decades the county has successfully partnered with its workforce to provide efficient, quality public services for Dane County’s residents – from protecting children, to keeping our communities healthy, to making sure our roads safe and clear of snow,” said Parisi.  “And when we’ve had challenging times, our workforce has been the first to step up and be a part of the solution.  Honoring that partnership to the best of our ability under the restrictions of Act 10 is simply the right thing to do.”


Two pieces of legislation will be introduced at the Dane County Board’s meeting on Thursday night  - a comprehensive amendment to the Civil Service ordinance, and a resolution that would approve the county’s first Employee Benefit Handbook. 


"Many municipalities have used Act 10 as an excuse to refuse to engage in healthy dialogue with employees and to roll back decades of carefully negotiated agreements and procedures.  Fortunately, Dane County provides a more enlightened model,” said Kate Burkholder, president of AFSCME Local 705.  “By encouraging open communication and mutual trust, Dane County is ensuring efficient delivery of high quality services for all its citizens.”


Collective bargaining is prohibited under Act 10.  The Civil Service ordinance amendment eliminates outdated provisions and creates an efficient process to review, discuss, and approve terms and conditions of employment to the extent allowed by the state law.


Dane County’s Employee Benefit Handbook (EBH) is intended to replace the terms and conditions of employment that are currently contained in the county’s collective bargaining agreements to the extent allowed by Act 10.  For example, existing vacation, holiday, and overtime benefits are unchanged while dues deduction, which is expressly prohibited by Act 10, is deleted. 


“This action sends the positive message that Dane County remains committed to treating its employees fairly and continues to value a cooperative labor-management relationship,” said author of the legislation, Supervisor Jerry Bollig of Oregon.  “Employees who are treated fairly have a tendency to feel appreciated and maintain a good work ethic. This translates into improved quality of services and cost savings to county residents. I consider this an investment in the future quality of county staff, services and infrastructure.”


“As a county we have demonstrated a commitment to workers' rights.  A county-wide referendum supporting collective bargaining passed 68% to 32%,” said Dane County Supervisor Leland Pan of Madison.  “It is thus our duty to continue to recognize our employees' voices and their unions, no matter the policy of the state government.”


“As elected officials it is our job to listen and communicate openly and then act on the behalf of our constituents and Dane County's employees should be given those same opportunities,” said Dane County Supervisor Nick Zweifel of Sun Prairie.  “Our county employees deserve a voice and a place at the table so that we can listen, communicate and act in everyone's best interest. Dane County will no doubt set the new standard for developing and creating positive employee relationships.”


Pending final approval by the Dane County Board, the amendment to the Civil Service ordinance would go into immediate effect and the EBH would go into effect once existing employee contracts have expired and the provisions of Act 10 fully apply to the county workforce.

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