State News

Walker proposes to end labor commission

Walker’s proposal to end a commission on labor could enhance government efficiency but some worry the commission’s disappearance would hinder labor workers’ protections.

Image By: Katie Scheidt

Part of Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget proposal calls for an end to a commission that supervises labor disagreements in aims to increase efficiency and quickly run labor cases through government.

The Labor and Industry Review Commission is an independent agency that manages cases involving unemployment compensation, workers' compensation and fair labor standards disputes. If the commission is eliminated, the cases will be transferred and overseen by either the state’s Department of Administration or Department of Workforce Development.

Despite Walker’s claim in his budget proposal that the removal of the commission would quicken government processes, some people in the labor community have expressed concerns about the elimination. UW-Madison professor and consumer science expert Lydia Zepeda questioned the different departments’ ability to handle the transfer of the cases.

“The commission handles about 2,000 disputes a year over equal rights, worker compensation and unemployment. It is not clear that Department of Administration or Department of Workforce Development (who would take over the role of the commission) have the expertise, capacity, or independence to handle these cases,” Zepeda said in an email. “Far from increasing efficiency, this will result in disorganization, wastefulness, and mean many more lawsuits. Clearly, the purpose of this proposal is to reduce worker protections even further in the State of Wisconsin.”

Zepeda is a professor in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies with an expertise in family farm labor and labor policy.

The governor’s proposal next moves to negotiations within state legislature. The budget is expected to be completed by June 30. 

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