Hundreds of Wisconsin public school unions will be able to stay in business for another year, even though their ability to collectively bargain remains restricted.
Voting ended Thursday for about 400 unions that represent teachers, support staff, and office employees in districts around Wisconsin. Results released by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission show most of the unions met the tougher voting requirements needed for recertification.
In a statement, Wisconsin Education Association Council President Betsy Kippers says the results show “Wisconsin educators who sought recertification overwhelmingly voted to recertify their unions. Preliminary results show that about 91 percent of local teacher associations seeking recertification have succeeded.” Kippers says that “even with extreme obstacles that the Walker administration put in the way of local associations seeking recertification, Wisconsin educators are standing strong to take their rightful place in their schools and profession.”
Under Act 10, Governor Scott Walker’s controversial law that limited collective bargaining for most public employees, those unions needed to have 51 percent of their entire membership vote in favor of recertification, instead of just 50 percent of those voting. Even with recertification, the ability of the unions to collective bargain on behalf of workers is severely limited. Under Act 10, they can only negotiate pay raises at or below the rate of inflation.
A Dane County judge had blocked the elections from taking place at all, arguing that holding them violated a previous court order that found portions of Act 10 unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court is currently reviewing that decision, but issued an order last month allowing the elections to still take place.