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Supreme Court Says Elimination Of Benefit For Milwaukee County Workers Was Legal

Unions Had Claimed County's Decision Violated 1996 Ordinance

Damian Entwhistle (CC-BY-NC-SA)

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled 5 to 2 against two Milwaukee County employee unions in a labor dispute over health care benefits.

In 2011, Milwaukee County eliminated a pension benefit that covered the cost of a retiree’s Medicare Part B premiums. The unions claimed a 1996 ordinance forbids the county from reducing any benefits for vested employees.

Candace Owley of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses said the court’s ruling allows the county to break a promise.

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“These are some of the longer-term nurses there that have dedicated their lives to working in the public sector in the service to their community, and they did this with a certain understanding of certain promises of benefits. This overturns decisions that go back decades,” said Owley.

But the county’s attorney Alan Levy said the ruling will save the county money by allowing it to control the cost of health care benefits as medical care costs continue to rise.

Read the Supreme Court’s ruling below: