Lawmakers Approve Bill Restricting Local-Government Control on Employment

The State Assembly voted on Thursday on a proposal to prevent local governments from adopting mandatory labor-peace agreements and other requirements related to employment laws.

Assembly Bill 748 seeks to put in place statewide rules for occupational licensing, overtime and other employment matters. Supporters of the legislation say it would prevent the state from having employment requirements that vary greatly from one government jurisdiction to the next. Uniformity, they argue,w ill make it easier for companies to know what rules they have to follow when doing business in Wisconsin.

The provision concerning labor-peace agreements, for instance, would prevent local officials from requiring employers to sign onto these sorts of agreements before doing municipal work. Employers who sign labor-peace agreements agree to not resist employees’ unionization attempts.

Beyond that, the bill would:

  • scrap local governments’ ability to set minimum-wage requirements for contractors who are working on local public-works projects; and
  • prohibit local governments from enforcing occupational-licensing requirements that are stricter than those set by the state;
  • set a statewide standard for regulations concerning employee scheduling, hours and overtime;
  • establish uniform statewide regulations for employee benefits;
  • make it clear that employers throughout Wisconsin have the right to ask job applicants for salary information;
  • prevent local governments from establishing a wage-claim process that is separate from the one set by the state.

The legislation had once called for the setting of a statewide standard to determine when employment discrimination had occurred. But an amendment introduced earlier this week scrapped that provision.

To become law, AB 748 still needs the state Senate’s approval and Gov. Scott Walker’s signature. Lawmakers in the Senate have said they plan to convene in March for the final time this legislative session.