MILWAUKEE (CN) - Recall elections against the governor, lieutenant governor and four state senators appear all but certain as labor wars continue in Wisconsin, where the Milwaukee County sheriff is trying to replace deputies who work as courthouse bailiffs with private security guards who are not sworn law enforcement officers.
The Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs' Association sued Milwaukee County and Sheriff David Clarke Jr. in Milwaukee County Court.
Clarke sued the county's Civil Service Commission in a separate complaint in the same court, in a squabble over layoffs and powers.
And the Government Accountability Board will meet today (Friday) to consider the recall petitions against Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. Petitioners appear to have gathered enough signatures for recall elections against both, and against four state senators.
One of the Republican senators targeted for recall resigned 2 weeks ago, leaving the Senate in a 16-16 partisan deadlock.
In their complaint, the Deputy Sheriffs' Association says that Sheriff Clarke declared an emergency under county law, authorizing himself to hire private security guards from Wackenhut at an estimated $1,387,360 annually ($26.68 an hour) while 48 deputy sheriffs have been laid off.
Milwaukee County's 2012 budget provided only for $481,326 for bailiff services. The Deputy Sheriffs' Association says Clarke is seeking bids to contract permanently with private companies to provide bailiff services.
The union claims that Clarke and Milwaukee County are compromising courtroom security and are not "preserving or protecting life, health, or welfare of persons." It claims that the only time an emergency purchase can be made is when this preservation or protection is threatened.
The union says Clarke and the county did not collectively bargain, causing the laid-off deputies continued financial hardship. They had a duty, the union says, to offer the positions back to the deputies under civil service law.
Civil Service Rule VIII, Section 8(1) states: "When any officer or employee has been laid off in accordance with the rules of the commission, the person so laid off shall have precedence for recall to a vacancy in the same group and salary and of the same character and standard of work and shall be recalled in the order hereinafter provided," according to the union's complaint.
Wisconsin Statute 111.70(1)(a) requires that "a municipal employer must bargain in good faith with a representative of the majority of its employees with respect to wages, hours, and conditions of employment," but Clarke refused to do this, the union says.
The union claims Clarke has a constitutional duty to attend to Milwaukee County courtrooms. "Historically, Sheriff Clarke fulfilled his duties under the Wisconsin Constitution (Article VI, Section 4) and Wis. Statute 59.27(3) by staffing Milwaukee County Courtrooms exclusively with MDSA [Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs' Association] Deputy Sheriffs," the union says.