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Battle could be brewing regarding UW staff assignment to unions

A legal battle could be brewing on whether 4,000 University of Wisconsin staff members can be assigned to unions without a chance to decide for themselves.

Two Democratic lawmakers put that item in the new state budget before Gov. Jim Doyle vetoed it on Monday.

Doyle's administration said the governor wanted to let academic staff members organize and choose their unions.

And UW officials say the governor's veto will allow that.

But a lawyer for the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission says his panel still has the ability to assign unrepresented staffers to existing unions without them voting on it.

Several unions say they'll file petitions with the commission to get those assignment powers clarified.

Peter Davis, the general counsel for the Employment Relations Commission, expects a fight over the issue.

The UW has about 12,000 full-time academic staff members statewide.

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