By Micheal Foley, hudson-wi.patch.com
The Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA) filed a civil suit on Friday, April 13, against the City of Hudson in St. Croix County Circuit Court. The suit is an attempt to resolve an ongoing dispute about health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) contributions since the beginning of 2012, while the two parties have been engaged in collective bargaining negotiations for a new contract.
Roger Palek, the attorney who filed the suit on behalf of the WPPA, sent the following statement in an email to Patch on Monday afternoon:
“Although public safety employees were exempted from most of the changes to the Municipal Employees Relations Act, the changes did make negotiating over the health insurance plan design and it’s impact a prohibited subject of bargaining. In this case the City has taken the position that Health Reimbursement Arrangements, language that had been negotiated in good faith previously were part of the health insurance plan design. We believe this is a significant overreach by the City from the statutory definition in the law. We are therefore asking the court to declare whether or not this language is part of the plan design. We believe it is not and that the circuit court will agree. We believe the court will ultimately resolve the dispute in a timely manner.”
Steve Weld, an attorney representing the City of Hudson in its dealings with the WPPA, said last year’s state budget bill changed the rules for public safety bargaining to the extent that health insurance plan design is now a prohibitive subject for bargaining.