Here's the statement:
RACINE COUNTY EXECUTIVE PLEASED BY WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT DECISION IN FAMILY COURT SOCIAL WORKER CASE
Racine – Racine County Executive Bill McReynolds expressed pleasure at today’s Wisconsin Supreme Court decision in a case involving social workers for the Racine County Family Court. The Court rejected a challenge by the union representing county social workers, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 10, to using contract social workers instead of county employees.
Said McReynolds: “The Supreme Court’s decision recognizes two very important principles. First, the Family Court Commissioner, as a member of the judiciary, has broad powers with respect to selecting staff members. Second, in public employment cases, arbitrators must consider all relevant laws, including those that may affect the applicability of collective bargaining agreements.”
“But,” McReynolds added, “What’s more important is that this is a victory for the people of Racine County and for the hard-working social services professionals who work for the Family Court Commissioner.”
To provide social worker services for families, the Family Court Commissioner can decide whether to hire county employees or contract with independent individuals. In 2004, the decision was made to contract with persons who had provided these services as county employees, but who were eligible, by age and length of service, to retire under the Wisconsin Retirement System.
The shift to contracting with these retirees was intended to ensure that Racine County families would continue to have access to the services of dedicated, experienced social service professionals, but at the same time, to save Racine County taxpayers some employee compensation costs. The union objected.
A state arbitrator found for the union, but that decision was overturned by a Kenosha County circuit court judge who heard the case because all Racine County circuit court judges recused themselves. That circuit court decision was reversed by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals; and, in turn, today’s Wisconsin Supreme Court decision reverses the Court of Appeals.
McReynolds observed: “This case was brought by the union; it was not supported by the individuals who retired and then provided contracted services. This decision, rejecting the union’s position, is good news for those retirees and for the people of Racine County.”