In a wildly contentious move in 2011, the Wisconsin legislature voted to end union rights for public workers. Those union rights established pay rates and employment conditions via collective bargaining agreements for most government workers. The new law also ended the deduction for union dues from employee salaries. The Wisconsin State Journal reports how merit raises have replaced automatic annual pay raises:
In the first round of pay increases for Wisconsin state employees since union contracts were invalidated, supervisors delivered an average 6.52 percent boost to 2,757 workers, roughly one in 14 of those eligible.
The payout — totaling $8.2 million — is very different from union-era raises, which were much smaller on a percentage basis but cost tens of millions more because they were distributed to most non-academic employees.
Another difference from the old contractual pay system is that more than half of the merit awards were one-time lump sum payments that didn’t become part the workers’ base salaries.
Within certain constraints, supervisors were allowed to propose extra pay for valued employees who did superior work, were seeking other employment, or were underpaid compared to others in similar circumstances.