Milwaukee Will Give Bonuses To Employees Who Don’t Move Outside The City

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The city of Milwaukee will pay bonuses to employees who don’t use a state budget provision that allows the workers to move out of the city.

Governor Scott Walker approves of the plan.

The state budget loosens residency requirements for public employees in dozens of Wisconsin communities. Milwaukee is making the biggest fight against the budget language, and the matter is now before a circuit court.

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In the meantime, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has announced all non-police and fire unionized city employees are getting a small raise, and the workers will get an end-of-the-year bonus of about $600 if they keep living in the city.

Barrett says he’s using positive reinforcement.

“If you work in a private business and you want someone to work on the holidays, you might give them more money,” says Barrett. “We want someone to live in the city; we give them more money. It seems pretty simple to me.”

Barrett says a larger bonus is probably needed, but he says the city if offering what it can under the revised state collective bargaining law that limits local pay increases. He says new contract talks are underway with Milwaukee police and firefighters who were not directly affected by Walker’s crackdown on bargaining for public workers.

Walker says he thinks Milwaukee offering a residency bonus is great.

“My point all along is if you want someone to live here you should give them a reason,” he says. “Good schools, safe streets, [and] a good economy are three good reasons. A bonus? I think that’s part of it – all the power to him.”

However, the Walker administration is expected to keep fighting for the state budget language that loosens residency requirements and – in Milwaukee’s case at least – costs city taxpayers more to keep workers in the city.

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