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Not all police, firefighters supported Wis. governor

The statement

"The firefighters, the policemen and others who supported (Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker) in his election bid … don't have to worry about their collective bargaining rights."

Donna Brazile, pundit, in an interview on ABC's This Week

The ruling

Our first stop was checking Walker's proposal. It asks state workers to pay more for their pensions and health insurance, which reduces take-home pay. But it also sets limits on collective bargaining power for the public sector unions.

In a letter to public workers, Walker explained that his proposal would limit bargaining only to base pay, which means unions could not bargain for improved health insurance, working conditions or pension benefits. Pay increases would be limited to increases in the cost of living, using the Consumer Price Index, unless voters approved other pay increases via a referendum. Union members would have to vote to stay unionized each year, and contracts could last only a year, among other limitations.

Walker concluded the changes by noting, "Local police and fire employees and state patrol troopers and inspectors are exempted from these changes."

So Brazile is right that police, firefighters and others are exempt. Our next question was, are these the groups "who supported him in his election bid"?

During the campaign, leaders of the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association and Milwaukee Police Association appeared in an ad supporting Walker and blasting his opponent, Democrat Tom Barrett. Walker also won endorsements from the West Allis Professional Police Association and the Wisconsin Troopers Association. He didn't get the endorsements of two statewide unions, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association and the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Professional Police Association executive director Jim Palmer said the statewide organization is much larger than the local Milwaukee police union that endorsed Walker. The state group has about 11,000 members vs. Milwaukee's roughly 1,400, he said. Similarly, the state firefighters association has more than 3,000, compared with the Milwaukee union's 875.

The state police union is opposed to the changes Walker is proposing for other public sector workers, which include county jailers and police dispatchers, Palmer said. The statewide firefighters' union also opposes it.

Because the statement leaves out the fact that the police and fire unions broke ranks on whether to support Walker, we rate this statement Half True.

Angie Drobnic Holan, Times staff writer

Edited for print. For more, go to

Not all police, firefighters supported Wis. governor 02/21/11 [Last modified: Monday, February 21, 2011 9:37pm]
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