December 20, 2014

Teachers unions consider merger

Two of the state’s largest teachers’ unions have voted to begin merger talks.

The decision follows a vote over the weekend by members of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, who authorized pursuing talks with the American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin. AFT approved discussions about a possible merger in October.

WEAC President Mary Bell says committees from both unions will sit down and discuss what a combined organization would look like, and how it would address the goals both organizations have for education employees. WEAC primarily represents K-12 teachers in the state, while AFT members are typically in post-secondary education fields.

AUDIO: Mary Bell (:13)

While Bell says the two unions have their own history and traditions, they could benefit from joining together. She says unions are facing an increasingly challenging environment in Wisconsin, and working together could provide more services to members.

The merger talks follow almost two years of declining enrollment for WEAC, which has seen membership numbers drop as a result of limits on collective bargaining for public employees passed by Governor Walker and the Legislature.

If the members of both unions approve a merger, the earliest the two would be able to combine is September of 2014.