Appleton Mayor Tim has seemingly made an important move to protect one of the community's most valuable assets: Vally Transit. It appears that the city of Appleton has simply gone ahead an approved contracts for the next two years for their union transit employees, ignoring and avoiding the assaults on public service and local workers that loom for our cities. State law, even if changed, cannot invalidate the new contract, so the new deal would solve a potential funding problem connected to Gov. Scott Walker's state budget repair bill if it passes and would provide a meaningful timetable to decide how Valley Transit operates in the future.
Oshkosh can do the same. As we posted previously, the state of Wisconsin and Federal Government have officially confirmed that the stripping of basic collective bargaining rights for our local employees will result in the loss of federal transit dollars, which comprise over 33% of our transit budget. This type of loss would essentially end the system.
The mayor of Appleton has stepped up and demonstrated his support for his valuable city staff, as well as the public transit system. According to an article yesterday in the Post Crescent:
"I want people to understand this is about our transit system. This is not about jamming through a contract before the budget repair bill is passed. There seems to be a lot of that going on around the state," Hanna said. "We have millions of dollars
invested in this system. It would be irresponsible (to do nothing)."
The deal freezes pay this year for 48 bus drivers, mechanics and operators, but allows raises in 2012 of 1 percent on Jan. 1 and 3 percent on Dec. 30.
This should be an option that is strongly, and quickly, considered for Oshkosh. While it does negatively impact the compensation of transit personnel, this can be considered reasonable considering the pending assaults on local communities by leaders in Madison. At a minimum, this would buy two years of time for the city to plan for how best to proceed in effectively delivering services while retaining the federal assistance.
While I was initially hoping to simply engage in a discussion concerning this idea with city officials, the seemingly undemocratic actions that slithered through the capital today (watch in discomfort here) seem to make things a bit more urgent.
State law, even if changed, cannot invalidate the new contract, so the new deal would solve a potential funding problem connected to Gov. Scott Walker's state budget repair bill if it passes and would provide a meaningful timetable to decide how Valley Transit operates in the future.