MADISON - A state appeals court Tuesday reversed a decision regarding health insurance coverage for Green Bay police and fire workers and Brown County Sheriff's Department employees.
Contracts with both municipalities expired Dec. 31, 2012. The city and county argued new state law allowed them to unilaterally redesign the health insurance plans for the public safety employees. The unions sought - and were granted - an order from a Brown County judge keeping the previous health insurance plans and employee contributions in place while new contracts were negotiated.
The governments appealed. In its ruling, the appeals court said the judge applied the wrong legal standard to the case.
"As the Municipalities point out, there were several other remedies available to the Associations after the circuit court granted the Municipalities summary judgment. The Associations could have moved for reconsideration of the court's decision. They could have, and did, appeal the court's ruling. They could also have sought a stay of the court's decision pending appeal. The Municipalities argue that any of these approaches, if successful, would have provided the Associations with an adequate remedy. We agree. In addition, the Associations fail to respond to the Municipalities' argument that these other remedies would have been adequate. We therefore deem the point conceded... Because the Associations have failed to establish the necessary elements for mandamus relief, the circuit court erred by granting them a writ of mandamus," the court wrote.
The unions involved are the Green Bay Professional Police Association, the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin & Green Bay Local 141, and the Brown County Sheriff's Department Non-Supervisory Labor Association.
The unions' attorney called the decision unfortunate and it's unclear what the municipalities might do now. City and county attorneys didn't immediately return messages.
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