Wisconsin School Unions: Hundreds Seek Recertification Following Contentious Rights Law

Courtney Williams's picture
Monday, October 3, 2011

More than 200 school unions in Wisconsin met Friday's deadline to seek recertification, but it's unclear how many others let it pass and gave up the little bargaining powers they had left under Republican Gov. Scott Walker's contentious union rights law.

The law stripped public unions of their ability to negotiate anything except wage increases. It also requires unions without existing contracts to hold so-called recertification elections to determine if they can formally represent their members in salary negotiations.

Friday was the deadline for school employee unions to tell the state they wanted an election, and about 212 met the deadline, according to the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.

"We're declaring to the world we're still here. We're not going away," said Doug Perry, a fifth-grade teacher at Maple Grove School in Greenfield whose union filed for recertification.

But hundreds may have decided not to try. WERC doesn't track how many local unions exist in Wisconsin, but the state has 425 school districts and each one could potentially have multiple chapters representing teachers and support staff.

The Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state's largest teacher's union, is aware of about 300 local chapters operating without a contract. Unions that don't recertify can continue to exist, but they won't have any formal bargaining power.

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