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GOP Rep. says police & fire unions bought exclusion for collective bargaining law


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - A freshman state lawmaker says police-and-fire unions “bought out several people” to win exemptions from the law that limits collective bargaining for other public unions.

Assembly Republican Chris Kapenga of Delafield wrote his allegations in response to an e-mail from a constituent.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published parts of the memo Thursday – and Kapenga stood by those comments. He told Jim Germain quote, “We have pushed for police-and-fire to be included with all other public employees. Bottom line is the unions have bought out several people, and we cannot get it put through. It has been very frustrating.”

The head of the Milwaukee police union, Mike Crivello, said he was “flabbergasted” by the remark – especially after his group endorsed Kapenga last fall. Crivello said his union does not have the power, the authority, or the money to quote, “buy anybody off.”

But Patrick Curley, the chief of staff for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, said Kapenga speaks the truth and quote – “I’m pleasantly surprised by his candor.”

The union limits are tied up in court. They would limit bargaining to wages at-or-below inflation – and state workers would have to pay more toward their health insurance and pensions.

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee voted last week to make law enforcement pay the higher benefit costs, without limiting their bargaining powers.

When the Republican Walker proposed the exemption, he said it was to make sure officers were available to handle backlashes to his plan.

The bill went on to attract massive demonstrations at the Capitol in February and March.