The head of the state’s largest teacher union is asking members to return to their classrooms. Wisconsin Education Association Council President Mary Bell has asked teachers whose districts don’t have a President’s Day holiday to get back to work on Monday. “We call on them to return to duty by day, and find ways to be vocal and visible after their work day is down,” Bell said. “To those whose contracts recognize Presidents Day as a holiday, we call on them to return to Madison.”
Bell’s request came after another day of massive public protests in and around the Capitol in Madison on Saturday. The crowd approached 70,000 and while there was a counter demontration in support of Governor Scott Walker’s controversial budget repair bill, the majority of those present were clearly opposed.
Bell said teachers will be encouraged to take action after school hours – at least through Tuesday, after which she said there are no firm plans. “I don’t have a longer term strategy excpect that as Monday and Tuesday roll on, people who are to be in class will be in class, and we will see what the week brings,” she said.
Bell reiterated the union’s willingness to concede on Governor Scott Walker’s requests on health care and pension contributions, but that they will continue to oppose Walker’s efforts to radically restrict the ability of public employees to collectively bargain. “It is all the other non fiscal items that are in this budget fix bill that strip members and public workers across the state of their rights that are not acceptable,” Bell said.