BY MALIA HILL – The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel is reporting that the state’s largest teacher’s union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) has been forced to layoff 42 employees (or 40% of its staff):
Burkhalter said that the layoffs and other budget cuts at WEAC are a result of Gov. Scott Walker’s “union-busting” legislation.
“Right now we’re engaged in membership continuation campaigns,” Burkhalter said in a statement. “We’ve made steady progress in signing up members and we anticipate further progress will be made as the school year resumes. Despite budget cuts and layoffs, our goal remains the same: to be a strong and viable organization that represents the voices of Wisconsin’s public school employees.”
The organization has been working to stay relevant in a time when state legislation has severely clipped the collective bargaining of teachers and other public workers. The legislation makes it illegal for local teachers unions to electronically deduct dues from the payroll of teachers, and local unions also have to hold re-certification votes.
The Wisconsin Association of School Boards estimates that about 275 school districts in the state are working outside of collective bargaining agreements and subject to the new legislation. About 150 or so districts are operating under contracts that were extended with their respective unions before the legislation passed.
No doubt some people will be confused (or willfully misled), so it bears repeating–these are union employees who are losing their jobs, and not the state’s teachers themselves. It is being blamed on the fact that new legislation frees most of the state’s school districts from collective bargaining agreements, though one does wonder whether there may be other factors in play. After all, one person’s “union busting” legislation is another’s “critical effort to resolve a budget crisis.”
Of course, one can hardly expect that the Union would also announce that they had an unsustainable model, but the fact that one of the blows to their bottom line is the fact that they can no longer electronically deduct union dues from people’s paychecks warrants at least an eyebrow raise.
Hawaii’s own state unions are immensely powerful and entwined with the government (or at least with the Democratic Party that runs most of the government in these parts), and our own state/union agreements have a significant impact on our own budget woes.
But don’t look for solutions from the unions themselves, which are more concerned with their own bottom line than the long-term economic health of the state.