Mayor Soglin was the first of the gubernatorial candidates to oppose Act 10. On Saturday February 12, 2011 he joined a group of University of Wisconsin graduate teaching and research assistants in a march to the state capitol in opposition to Scott Walker’s proposal to destroy public employee unions.
The following week, he made repeated public statements in opposition to Act 10 including multiple posts on his blog, Waxingamerica, the first post going up on Sunday, the following day:
"The way to improve public services and reduce costs is to trust public employees and give them the opportunity to do quality work."
Elected as mayor in April of 2011, Mayor Soglin lead the way in finding new protections for workers by instituting the “employee handbooks” which codified the defunct labor agreements in the post-Act 10 world.
Paul Soglin on Act 10
Act 10 was devastating. It did more than destroy public employee unions. Valuable, experienced teachers and public works employees retired depriving us of their experience and institutional knowledge. It left many public agencies with no process to deal with employee grievances and discipline.
When Act 10 was introduced, Wisconsin had one of the lowest ratios of public employees per capita among the states; the quality of Wisconsin public service was among the best. We are still good but the long range prospects are questionable as a result on Act 10: the best and the brightest are no longer as enthusiastic to stay in Wisconsin and teach and serve.
People ask me if I support repealing Act 10. The answer is not that simple. We have to do more. We need to restore full collective bargaining rights for public and private employees, strengthen the role of unions, and end the race to the bottom.
Many Wisconsinites were unhappy that they did not have the pensions and health insurance received by public employees. The solution was not to undermine public employees but to improve everyone else’s benefits.