SEA Day - Wednesday, March 29th.
SEA Day has been scheduled for Wednesday, March 29 at our State Capitol in Madison.
We will meet at the information desk on the first floor of the Rotunda at 9:30 am.
This is your chance to visit your legislators and let them know your concerns.
You may wish to arrange your visits in advance or simply drop in to legislator offices.
Available materials will include some basic talking points important to SEA members.
Consider taking some time off and joining us. Spread the word.
State Group Insurance Board approves self-insurance for state workers
The State will likely move to self-insure state workers starting in 2018 after the controversial plan was adopted Wednesday by the Group
Insurance Board. It still must be approved by the state Legislature's budget committee. After years of considering the controversial
idea, the insurance board voted 10-1 to change the way the state finances a $1.5B health insurance program that covers about 250,000
state plus some local government workers and their dependents.
- Wisconsin State Journal
from Group Insurance Board to Joint Committee on Finance
LAB Completes DOT Audit - Highway project costs underestimated by $3B
A just completed audit by the Legislative Audit Bureau finds the Department of Transportation dramatically underestimated the
cost of major highway projects by failing to account for inflation and other factors. The LAB audit results were released. Of "164
cost-benefit analyses performed, 90.1% indicated that DOT staff could complete the work for a total of $14.0M less than consultants
could complete it". However, adding more cost-effective DOT staff was not a recommendation. A
and Report Highlights
as well as the full report
- Wisconsin State Journal
Public employee pensions to rise based on SWIB fund gains
Public employee retirees can expect a small boost in their pension checks this spring. Retirees, whose pensions are paid through the
Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), will get an increase starting in May averaging at least $300-$400 a year. The nearly 200,000
retirees receiving pensions from the WRS's Core Trust Fund are expected to receive a raise of between 1.3 and 1.9 percent this year.
- Wisconsin State Journal
State Group Insurance Board delays decision on self-insurance
The state Group Insurance Board, overseeing state worker health benefits, declined to take action on self-insurance and other
restructuring options, as had been expected, saying discussion will continue in January. The board was considering a move to
self-insurance, in which the state would pay for health care directly and take on the risk for claims, instead of paying premiums
to contracted HMOs.
- Wisconsin State Journal
State could gain or lose by self-insuring state workers
The state could save millions and exert more control over health benefits for state workers if it self-insured them, but
administrative costs could increase and the risk for large medical claims could be substantial, a new state report says. The new
report, by staff at the state Department of Employee Trust Funds, will be presented November 30 to the Group Insurance Board.
- Wisconsin State Journal
Wisconsin's fully-funded pension system is one of a kind
Wisconsin's fully funded, one-of-a-kind pension system is unique. It includes elements of a 401(k), or defined contribution
plan, in a way that no other state does. Wisconsin's pension system, like most defined benefit plans in the country, guarantees
qualifying workers a fixed minimum benefit based on their years of service and final salary at retirement. But that's not all...
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
2016-17 SEA Membership drive. What can you do?
Affirm or reaffirm your membership in SEA,
fighting to protect your compensation, workplace rights and retirement benefits. SEA is conducting its
2016-17 membership drive and asking all existing and prospective members to join by signing a continuing membership
application form. Sending in the membership form lets your colleagues and elected officers as well as
our elected lawmakers know that you value the importance of our professional association.
The membership year is from September 1 - August 31.
Recommit your SEA membership
State spent $9.7M on merit bonuses, retention and pay equity payments in last year
The amount the state gave state employees in merit-based bonuses and equity or retention payments more than doubled in the 2016 fiscal
year, but the payments were barely more than half
of what employees received three years ago. State agencies granted pay increases or
one-time bonuses for 4,638 state employees - or only about 15 percent
of the state workforce. The one-time merit-based bonus payments and
retention or equity payments are built into the base pay or come in one lump sum. Other deserving employees were left out in the cold again.
- Wisconsin State Journal
State Self-Insured Health Benefits: Expect To Pay More and Get Even Less
The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) is seeking bids from potential companies for a possible self-insured health
benefits program for state workers. The long-expected request for proposals seeks information on customer service, data security,
provider networks, provider payments, and medical cost and health management.
WRS: Happy Sixth of July
One year ago today, we stopped the Wisconsin Legislature from changing the composition of the WRS governing body. Many organizations
devoted to retirement security joined together to oppose the change. Over half a million people saw an email that I sent. Tens of
thousands contacted their representatives to remind them of the old adage: If it isn't broken, don't fix it. We achieved a great
victory and put Madison on notice. At the moment, I am aware of no plans for changes to the WRS. But we must remain vigilant!
Another budget crisis of epic proportions (due to slow economic growth and massive tax cuts for the top income earners) greets the
new legislature in January 2017. We must be ready at a moment's notice to unite to protect the best pension system in the world.
Happy July 6th! - Kathleen Marsh
WisDOT DMC and DERA awards announced
The WisDOT May 2016 DMC and DERA recipients list was released. Most awards were for merit. The vast majority were lump sum awards averaging
$2,500 rather than hourly adjustments.
Nobody really knows whether self-insuring state workers will pay off
Self-insuring state workers could save money by reducing overhead, but it could increase costs by weakening a competitive insurance
market that has kept costs low. ETF, which administers health benefits for 250,000 state and local government workers and their
family members, will seek bids in July for self-insurance, on a regional or statewide basis, in 2018.
Governor Walker Proclaims State Employee Recognition Day
Governor Scott K. Walker issued a proclamation (read: empty gesture) declaring May 4th, as "State Employee Recognition Day". Did
anyone notice? What's more, did anyone even care? Did you get a rote email of appreciation from your upper management? It was
just another day in the trenches or on the cube farm for the rest of us. Our middle management didn't even bother with the facade
as it would have come out of their personal pockets.
Spring 2016 issue of SEA View now available
Public employee organizations have now put together the Coalition to Save
Civil Service. Restoring workplace protections is aim of the Coalition.
now for the latest SEA news.
Pension checks to increase for most Wisconsin public employees
Retirees will get an increase of 0.5 percent in payments from the Core Trust Fund, Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF)
officials said Wednesday. That would amount to about $124 a year more for the average retiree in the system, receiving an annual
annuity of $24,780 as of Dec. 31, 2015.
Change (on your own time) or die.
AT&T tells its 280,000 workers: adapt to new technology, or else. You don't have to be management trying to climb the corprate ladder.
It's become a 24/7 type thing even for the worker drones just to keep their jobs much less get ahead. Your job doesn't end at 5:00 each
day and you go home.
Scott Walker signs civil service overhaul
Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation Friday overhauling the state's century-old system of merit hiring and firing, effectively opening the state
hiring system to cronyism, nepotism, political favors, etc. The erosion of good state government as we knew it continues.
Senate Passes Civil Service Overhaul, On To Governor
The state Senate voted to remake Wisconsin's civil service system, enabling a supportive Gov. Scott Walker to sign the measure -
the latest far-reaching change to rules governing the state workforce, opening the door to potential nepotism, political favors, favoritism, etc.
SWIB Announces 2015 Wisconsin Retirement System Preliminary Returns
Like the stock market as a whole, the main trust fund for the Wisconsin Retirement System ended 2015 flat,
according to preliminary returns announced by the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB).
- Wisconsin State Journal
Labor Department finds state short-changed Scott Walker's security guards
The state has repaid more than $570,000 in back pay, the fourth-highest amount paid by a state since 2007.
The state Department of Transportation violated federal labor law in not properly paying overtime to the State Patrol
security team that protects Gov. Scott Walker. Their pay had been bumped up by $4 per hour, but that raise was rescinded
in the wake of the federal investigation.
2016 Health Insurance Co-pays, Deductibles and Coinsurance Explained
The majority of questions have revolved around understanding the complexity of the new co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance.
Here are some visuals to help understand the terms and how they work together.
Read more here
Legislative Proposals Affecting the Wisconsin Retirement System
A number of bills affecting the Wisconsin Retirement System were recently introduced in the Wisconsin State Legislature.
Professional License and Exam Fee Reimbursement
An arbitration hearing in July 2015 was decided in SEA's favor regarding License and Exam fee reimbursement for certain
classifications along with paid time off (MEANING work time paid leave, NOT vacation professional development time, nor any other
benefit time such as personal holidays, etc). You may be eligible. For further information regarding claims,
Wisconsin GOP wants to bankrupt schools, local government and blame pensions
Scary stuff! This is really happening. Does this not make you want to get involved? They are chipping away at our benefits folks. Contact your
legislators now. Join SEA. Or are you happy with your 0% and 0% raises and the upcoming big health insurance increase?
IMPORTANT: Senate Bill 183
Senate Bill 183 was introduced recently. It provides that no state senator or rep. to assembly may accrue any new sick leave during
any term in office that begins AFTER the bill's effective date. The bill DOES NOT AFFECT any previously accrued sick leave
legislators have prior to this bill.
If this bill passes, at some future point as older legislators retire, new legislators will have no sick leave accrued, then they will
likely look at the public employees who still may have it. They will chip away at this benefit until it is gone.
Recommit your SEA membership
Get ready for no raises and increased health insurance costs
The state won't be budgeting for across-the-board pay raises for 31,000 workers over the next two
years, under a compensation plan approved by lawmakers Tuesday. With little notice and a party-line
committee vote, Republican lawmakers approved the proposal, which means that our take-home pay will
actually go down from now through June 2017 after we pick our share of the rising costs of
2015-17 Compensation Plan - JCOER Version
SEA Day a success
SEA Day was a success and we got our message out as much as we could. Thank you
to all those who attended and thanks for being a member of SEA. One thing learned
at a contact with a Republican Senator was this - they ARE discussing OUR remaining benefits being:
- Health Insurance
- Sick Leave conversion upon retirement
The caucus feels that these benefits will cost the State an added $60 million this year. They feel the State cannot sustain this.
P.E. Exam and License Fee Arbitration Remedy
The remedy for the group grievance SEA won regarding the state violated article 11/8/1 and 11/9/1 of our contract
regarding professional license, exam fees and time off for that. The remedy was NOT to decide the merits of the
grievances as SEA already won that award....BUT this second arbitration was to decide WHO gets the remedy. The
arbitrator ruled in SEA's favor that anyone who had license or exam fee expenses, or time off issues is subject
to this remedy.
Anyone who had license or exam fee expenses (and had to take time off) from 1999 to 2013 is eligible for being made whole.
Some have become management but they should be eligible too. Some are no longer members but they were all members during
this period so they are eligible.
Arbitration decision and remedy (664 KB)
Primer on the lies and deception of Right-to-Work (for less)
Given the headline of the Wisconsin GOP deciding to introduce and ram through right-to-work bill, as well as Gov. Walker's promise to sign such legislation (proving that his statements on the subject were lies),
let's review what right-to-work is really about and why you should care.
Hypocrisy in action
Barrett Says Walker Would Sign Right to Work Bill, Walker Avoids the Question. The first punt in 2012?
Walker's administration suspends DMA & DERA pay hikes
Merit raises and retention pay increases for state workers - including some UW
System employees - have been suspended by Gov. Scott Walker's administration.
The announcement about the raise suspensions, "effective immediately," was made
in a Feb. 5 memo to state agencies' human resources directors. It's unclear how
many employees will be affected. Under Walker's 2013-15 budget, most state
workers received a 1 percent pay increase each fiscal year.
- Wisconsin State Journal - Feb. 13, 2015
SWIB funds show 'modest' returns for 2014
The trust funds for state employees and retirees saw returns in 2014 that will
result in "modest" pension and interest rate increases. The $88.7 billion Core
Fund, with a diverse portfolio, yielded a preliminary return of 5.7%,
putting its five-year return at 9.3%. The Variable Fund, a stock fund, ended
the year with a preliminary return of 7.3% and a market value of $7.3 billion.
Discretionary Merit Compensation (DMC) awards
The DOT released the new list of those employees who received a Discretionary Merit Compensation (DMC) award.
The program is intended to provide extra compensation for job performance, salary catch-up or retention.
Awards can be a lump sum amount or a base building raise. To see who received one, log on now and see "What's New"
Check data base
Audit Reminds Us: Retirement Funds Bear Careful Watching
By Sen. Kathleen Vinehout. "What's going on with the state retirement system?" the retired woman asked me. She'd
started a business but needed retirement income to keep things going. "Wisconsin's
system is the best funded in the country," I told her. "But we've got to carefully
watch what happens here....
Professional Exam Fees and Time Off Grievance Win
SEA has won the expedited grievance arbitration process, from 1999 to the
present, over professional licensee fees and exam fees (and some members who
took exams were ordered to take paid time off (such as professional time,
vacation, personal holiday)). We could recover the time off you had to use
also to take this exam if you were denied work time for it. Contact your section
president for further details.
The specific licenses and exams include:
Engineer in Training, Professional Engineer, Professional Architect,
Land Surveyor, Soil Tester, Designer, Landscape Architect,
Professional Geologist, Professional Hydrologist, Professional Soil Scientist,
Petroleum Operations Engineer and Wisconsin Registered Interior Designer.
(posted 9/26/14, updated 11/07/14)
Overdue Update on WRS
The recent Supreme Court ruling on Act 10 basically said that what the legislature
giveth, the legislature can taketh away. If we continue to have total Republican rule in
state government, there will be more onerous "reforms" ahead, the WRS among them.
Radically changing the WRS is at the top of the list for many Republicans,
especially those who pledge allegiance to ALEC, a group founded and funded by
ultra-conservative special interests.
Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds Act 10 union law
The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld Act 10 labor legislation Thursday,
delivering an election-year affirmation to the governor. The decision was 5-2,
with Justice Michael Gableman writing the lead opinion, which found that
collective bargaining over a contract with an employer is not a fundamental
right for public employees under the constitution. Instead, it's a benefit
that lawmakers can extend or restrict as they see fit.
General wage adjustment for certain state employees
The 2013-15 State Compensation Plan provided a one percent general wage
adjustment effective June 29, 2014, for many State of Wisconsin employees.
This base building increase will be seen in employee pay checks dated July 24, 2014.
Employees with an unsatisfactory performance evaluation were not eligible for
the one percent general wage adjustment. In addition, employees represented
by certified collective bargaining units were also not eligible for the one
percent general wage adjustment, as this increase is determined through a
separate negotiation process.
Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) contributions set for 2015
The Employee Trust Fund (ETF) Board has approved the Wisconsin Retirement
System contributions change for 2015. The OSER's Compensation and Labor
Relations Bulletin outlines the adjustments that will be effective with the
January 1, 2015 paycheck.
Walker & cronies discuss 'streamlining' civil service rules
Three years after repealing most collective bargaining for Wisconsin's public
workers, Gov. Walker and his appointees want to remove red tape that slows
hiring for state jobs - protections that union officials see as safeguards against
political patronage. Top admin officials are calling this a "modest" change. Recall
that Walker already has used the state budget to convert 37 top civil service
departmental positions to political appointments.
ETF Update - Unsolicited Telephone Calls Regarding Annuities and Retirement Benefits
Some members of the Wisconsin Retirement System have received unsolicited
telephone calls from persons offering to come to the member?s home to discuss
their retirement account. The caller claims to be associated with the Department
of Employee Trust Funds. ETF is not associated with these solicitations and does
not share or sell member information to third parties. In addition, ETF does not
schedule meetings in the private homes of members.
Federal appeals court upholds Act 10
Dealing unions yet another legal defeat, a federal appeals court upheld
Gov. Scott Walker's tight limits on collective bargaining for most public
employees. The unanimous ruling by the three-judge panel upheld a September
decision by U.S. District Judge William Conley in Madison that the law known
as Act 10 does not infringe on the constitutional rights of government workers
to freedom of speech and association and equal protection under the law.
Link to article
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Forced Overtime In DSPS
The Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) has 11 plan reviewers (they used to have 27).
They were told on April 1st that they would have to start working 12 hour days
and 8 hours on Sat. (68 hour weeks), forced overtime, and they were given less than 24 hours notice.
This notice came out on April 1st so there was some confusion whether this was an
April Fool's joke. It was not.
Can management do this? Yes
Is this legal? Yes.
Is this good management of public employees? No.
Can his happen to you? Yes, it can.
There appears to be some politics and favoritism involved in this incredibly
poor management decision. Fallout from this incident was the sudden retirement of the
immediate Bureau Director for that agency
Wisconsin Retirement System video
A 13 minute video which briefly shows how our retirement system works, but
underneath it all, this also is why it is so successful.
Link to video
Pension checks to rise for retired public employees
More than 180,000 retired public workers will see their pension checks rise at least 4.7 percent, starting May 1.
The state Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) said that payments from the Core Fund - the main fund
in the Wisconsin Retirement System - will rise 4.7 percent, and payments from the smaller, optional Variable Fund will jump 25 percent.
It is the first increase in Core Fund payments to retirees since 2008.
Link to article
- Wisconsin State Journal
Legislators apparently interested again in the pension fund
A Wisconsin-based blogger, Jake's Economic Funhouse, just put up an opinion piece on the Wisconsin Retirement System
including his following comment buttressing the idea that lawmakers might just like to take another run at siphoning
retirement investments for other purposes, on the basis that there are now "excess" pension earnings.
Link to blog post
The Attacks Continue
State conservative groups plan US-wide assault on education, health and tax
Link to source
- The Guardian
The Plot Against Pensions -
The Pew-Arnold campaign to undermine America's retirement security - and leave taxpayers with the bill
Link to source
- Institute for America's Future
Republican lawmakers propose changes to public workers' retirement calculations
A group of Republican lawmakers is proposing changes to how retirement payments for public workers in Wisconsin
are calculated. Under the bill, a participant?s Wisconsin Retirement System annuity would be calculated using
the worker?s five highest annual earnings periods to come up with a figure known as ?final average earnings? ?
rather than the three highest annual earnings periods used under current law.
- Mary Spicuzza, Wisconsin State Journal
Wisconsin state employee merit pay increases and bonuses
Search the raises and bonuses for more than 8,000 state employees under the state's Discretionary Merit Compensation
program. Roughly 2,100 employees received an increase in their base pay, while about 6,300 others got one-time bonuses.
Fewer than 30 state employees received both a bonus and an increase in their base pay.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
State workers to receive 1% increase
Most state workers will be receiving a 1% pay raise in their July 25th paycheck. The general wage increase
took effect July 1st and is the first in four years for most rank-and-file employees.
Meanwhile, the employee retirement contribution will increase 0.35% in 2014 and health insurance will
likely increase as well.
Some classifications will be receiving market adjustments. Lunch reimbursement will increase to $10 and for supper to $20. Woo-hoo.
2013-15 compensation plan
Open letter to members - fight back against wasteful outsourcing
It's time to pick up the phone, open your email program or fire up your word
processor. It's time once again to let your elected state representatives
know they may be making an expensive mistake ? one that in the end might cost
you some more work and taxpayers more dollars.
Yes, we mean you. So get up now and do something about it. The other guy isn't
going to do it for you.
to members regarding the elimination of Act 89.
AFSCME Legislative Report - Update on the Walker budget
The budget-reviewing committee has completed its work on the budget (AB 40), which now moves to the full Assembly
for action. For the next week or so, lawmakers will hold budget briefings and caucusess to figure out their floor strategy
for the upcoming budget vote and debate. The Assembly will take up the budget the week of June 17. The Senate
should act on the bill the week after and send the bill on to the governor by the end of June.
on action taken by legislature's Joint Finance Committee.
Lawmakers again propose axing Act 89 outsourcing law
It's back. With little fanfare, the legislature's Joint Finance committee yesterday inserted language into the state
budget that kills Act 89, at least for DOT. For the uninitiated, Act 89 is the law -- passed with strong support by SEA
-- that requires DOT and other state agencies to do a cost-benefit analysis before outsourcing most public works to
On the upside, JFC voted to fill 180 DOT engineering positions as proposed by DOT and Walker. The supposed $27 million
cost of this over two years would be filled by transferring already budgeted highway-rehabilitation funds. Which puts
another dent into those projects. So, new highway construction gets a boost while rehab for highways and local streets
gets dinged some more.
The entire package now goes to the full legislature. - Budget paper
A phrase to keep in mind when discussing the pension system
Our pensions are not "entitlements" or even just "benefits." They are "earned benefits," and an increasing share
of those benefits are being paid right out of your salaries, thanks to the current administration and legislative
majority, even though the state previously promised to cover those costs in calculating and agreeing to pay raises
So, when people discuss changing the pension system to "save" it, a good response would be to say the system is
already sound and that lawmakers have no right much less cause to take away earned benefits that were promised to
each of you.
Earned benefits. Just like Social Security and Medicare. Taking away those earned benefits in any manner after the
fact is tantamount to theft. It's reneging on a signed deal.
A Word to the Wise
When a Republican front group demanded copies of every email Sen. Jon Erpenbach received about Act 10 - from back when Scott Walker and his allies were ramming through their anti-worker bill - the good Senator complied.
He responded to the open records request by turning over 26,000 constituent records. They got what they asked for - all communications, Sen. Erpenbach said.
But, communication isn't what the right wing MacIver Institute was after. What they really wanted was to do was identify who wrote to the Senator. They were especially eager to get their hands on
any emails that may have come from a public employee's work email address. The MacIver Institute has made a point of singling out public employees who dare to speak out, as if a career in public service
should require a vow of silence.
In the future, public employees would be well advised to contact their political leaders using their personal computers and while not at work. (from AFSCME)
In post-union era, state employees get higher raises, but for fewer workers
In the first round of pay increases for Wisconsin state employees since union
contracts were invalidated, supervisors delivered an average 6.52 percent boost
to 2,757 workers, roughly one in 14 of those eligible.
Steven Verburg & Nick Heynen, Wisconsin State Journal
Go to article
Consultants get 2% raises: what about us?
A S.E.A. open records request for consultant contract wages revealed automatic 2% raises built into a consultant contract
with Mead & Hunt. What's more, the consultant's employees are identified by numbers, not names unlike state employees whose
names and salaries are considered public record. Why do they get anonymity? Why don't we get raises? Inquiring minds want
Go to open records request
Wis. labor consultant benefits from bargaining changes
A Middleton labor consultant has signed nearly $600K in contracts and carved out a unique professional niche because
of changes to collective bargaining for state workers. Gov. Scott Walker effectively ended
collective bargaining for public workers in 2011 allowing counties and cities to set their own pay scales and compare
wages to the private sector. The Carlson Dettmann Consulting firm has completed at least 12 compensation studies around
the state and signed nearly $600K in contracts since Act 10 became law. The firm has cornered the state market, having been
hired by 42 of Wisconsin's 72 counties, charging about $50K per study.
Go to madison.com
Retired public employees to see pension cut of 9.6%
Nearly 100,000 retired public employees will see their pension checks shrink by nearly 10 percent, starting May 1, the
Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds said Friday. But that's a smaller reduction than the agency had projected.
Payments from the Core Fund will decline 9.6 percent for many of the pensioners in the Wisconsin Retirement System even
though the fund showed returns of 13.7 percent for 2012.
Wisconsin State Journal
or The Capital Times
The views and opinions expressed in the above are those of the writer
and/or associated source and are not necessarily the views of SEA or its members. SEA does not testify,
sponsor or endorse the accuracy, completeness, reliability, availability, timeliness, or content of the information provided on
externally linked websites. By selecting these links, you will leave the SEA
website and connect to an external website.