Bascom Hall, University of Wisconsin-Madison. (Ron Cogswell | used by permission of the photographer)
The 4% raises for about 35,000 UW employees were included in the 2023-24 budget that was passed by the Republican-led Legislature and signed by Evers. However, they were held up last year by Republican lawmakers on the Joint Committee on Employment Relations (JCOER) as Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) decided to use the raises as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the UW System over diversity, equity and inclusion issues as well as funding.
The UW System and Republicans came to a deal in December 2023 under which lawmakers agreed to finally release the pay raises and fund some infrastructure projects for the University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Wisconsin schools, while the System agreed to freeze DEI hiring and realign some positions.
“All our UW faculty, staff, and workers should be treated with dignity and respect,” Evers said in a statement about signing the raises. “While I’m glad these well-deserved pay increases will finally be in the hands of the UW building trades employees who’ve earned them, these workers never should have had their wages held up for political games in the first place.”
The actions by Republican lawmakers regarding the pay raises also became one of the subjects of a lawsuit filed by Evers in October 2023. In the ongoing lawsuit, Evers argues that the actions by lawmakers constitute “legislative vetoes” that are “unconstitutional and unlawful.”
“Republicans’ obstruction of basic functions of government have harmed tens of thousands of people across our state — folks, that’s wrong,” Evers said in his statement. “Wisconsinites expect government to work for them, not against them, and for elected officials to do their jobs and get things done. I will continue to fight every effort by Republicans in the Legislature to unconstitutionally and unlawfully obstruct our administration from doing the right thing for Wisconsin.”
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