CJ Safir and Collin Roth In Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mystery “The Adventure of Silver Blaze,” the dog that didn’t bark reveals the greater truth. The same might be said of Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’s first state budget proposal. Derided by critics as a “liberal wish list,” Mr. Evers’s budget proposes to expand Medicaid, […]
Mark Sommerhauser: Wisconsin school districts ratcheted up health care costs on teachers and other employees after the state’s Act 10 collective bargaining changes, with the average district now requiring teachers to pay about 12 percent of their health insurance premiums, newly released data show. Madison schools are near the low end of what districts now […]
Patrick Marley and MRy Spicuzzi: “People think that unions are useless today, that we’re dinosaurs,” Bryce said in 2015, according to the book. “Well, how did that happen? We let it happen. The labor movement has become lazy, because it’s something that’s been handed to us.” Bryce, a Democrat running for GOP House Speaker Paul […]
Patrick Marley: The Democrats running for governor are pledging to end GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s union restrictions, while Walker is promising to veto any changes to Act 10 if he wins re-election and Democrats take control of the Legislature. Act 10 — adopted amid massive protests shortly after Walker took office in 2011 — brought […]
Sarah Hauer: The filing argues that Act 10 is “a content-based restriction infringing on (the unions’) rights to free speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” It says the law infringes upon association rights “to organize as a collective bargaining unit by increasing costs and penalties through its recertification and fair share provisions.” […]
Molly Beck: The polling also showed 60 percent of public sector employees favor returning to collective bargaining, compared with only 39 percent in the private sector. Nearly 70 percent of union members favor bargaining, while only 38 percent of non-union members support it. Those polled in the city of Milwaukee and Madison media markets favor […]
Annysa Johnson According to the report released Friday by the nonpartisan Public Policy Forum, Wisconsin still has fewer teachers than it did before Act 10, which curtailed collective bargaining for public school teachers and most other public employees. However, overall turnover has diminished, and the supply of new teachers is sufficient to fill those slots, […]
David Madland and Alex Rowell: This issue brief examines the impact of the law on Wisconsin’s K-12 public education system and state economy. While this brief focuses on Act 10’s impact on Wisconsin teachers based on the data available, the same forces driving changes in the teaching workforce can also affect the broader public sector.3 […]
Dan Benson & Julie Grace: Savings that Wisconsin taxpayers could have realized through implementation of Act 10 in 2011 — sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single district — were lost because federal regulations penalize school districts that find ways to spend less money. The Oostburg School District in Sheboygan County, for example, […]
Alan Borsuk:: But there is a lot more at work than Act 10 when it comes to attracting and keeping people in teaching. The roots of the shortages were showing up before 2011. For example, it was already getting challenging to find math and science teachers. The number of people in college-level programs to train […]
Bruce Vielmetti:: A lawyer for 90 retired Germantown teachers asked a jury Monday to award them more than $9 million in damages from their former employer, who the retirees say took their affordable long-term care insurance in a political power play after passage of Wisconsin’s Act 10 law. The district’s attorney urged jurors to reject […]
Molly Beck: A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Act 10 has been an “undisputed victory for Wisconsin taxpayers.” “Wisconsin’s declining union membership since the passage of right-to-work legislation only reflects that workers now have the ability to make their own decision about the costs and benefits of union membership,” said spokeswoman […]
Dave Umhoefer: “If you really want to drain the swamp, as Trump says, that would be a way to do it,” Walker said in an interview. Walker added: “It’s the work rules, the seniority, all those things. If they could tackle that in a similar way to what we did, long term it would be […]
Dave Umhoefer: Dave Weiland, an Oconomowoc school district teacher and local union leader, thinks the state union was stuck in a 1920s mentality. “The gravy train was running, and they didn’t see the curve,” he said. Indeed, two years prior to Walker’s election, the path appeared to be moving in a different direction. Bolstered by […]
Chris Rickert: An increasingly diverse Madison School District student body will see at least 55 new teachers of color next year — a major increase in minority hiring from the year before. If those concerned about the district’s long-standing racial achievement gaps are looking for people to thank for this improvement, they might as well […]
OGECHI EMECHEBE: At the direction of the Legislature, the UW System recently created the new Office of Educational Opportunity to oversee the creation of charter schools in Madison and Milwaukee without oversight from local school districts. How do you react to that? I’m opposed to the concept. I find it objectionable that the state has […]
Mitch Henck video. Molly Beck: The bill that later became Act 10 launched the largest protests ever in Madison, including a temporary occupation of the Capitol; legislative chaos highlighted by Democratic senators fleeing to Illinois to forestall a floor vote; and Walker’s historic recall victory. The days, weeks and months after Walker’s Feb. 11, 2011, […]
Mitch Henck. much larger forces are at play on Madison’s monolithic “we know best” K-12 world.
Mitch Henck: This is Madison. I learned that phrase when I moved here from Green Bay in 1992. It means that the elites who drive the politics and the predominate culture are more liberal or “progressive” than backward places out state. I knew I was in Madison as a reporter when parents and activists were […]
Pat Schneider: The conservative legal group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty has brought suit against Madison’s public schools through a plaintiff who does not have standing to bring the “scandalous” allegations of violations of teachers’ rights included in its complaint, school district officials claim in a court filing. Plaintiff David Blaska, a conservative blogger, […]
Edmund Henschel & Russell Knetzger In its Sept. 17 editorial about Gov. Scott Walker’s second term agenda, the Journal Sentinel Editorial Board said, “Act 10 was a mistake” (“Gov. Scott Walker’s second term? Same as the first,” Our View). Act 10 virtually ended collective bargaining for many, but not all, state and local public employees. […]
The Neenah Superintendent wrote a letter to Madison School Board Member & Gubernatorial Candidate Mary Burke on 19 September. Ms. Burke recently apologized for her Act 10 remarks: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke has apologized to the superintendent of the Neenah school district for comments she made on the campaign trail. Burke had been citing […]
Dave Zweiful: Last Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal carried a front-page story about a new phenomenon in our public schools that’s a fallout from Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10 — the teacher as “free agent.” According to some, Act 10’s virtual destruction of teachers unions unleashed good teachers from the shackles of their union contracts so […]
Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email (PDF): Governor Walker’s signature legislation, the 2011 anti-public employee, anti-union Act 10, which took away nearly all the bargaining rights of public employees, is once again on the front burner for those represented by MTI. MTI had initially challenged the legislation and gained a […]
Molly Beck: “The great irony is that Act 10 has created a marketplace for good teachers,” said Dean Bowles, a Monona Grove School Board member. Fellow board member Peter Sobol said though the law was billed as providing budget relief for school districts and local government, it could end up being harder on budgets as […]
Edgar Mendez: The goal in Wauwatosa was to better attract and retain top-flight educators; the method was to change the way teachers are compensated. A new compensation model, approved in February, calls for teachers to earn anywhere between $40,000 and $80,700 a year, based largely on their performance. But teachers had concerns: Would principals alone […]
Janesville Gazette: Is it good policy? Perhaps Act 10 was an overreach with its union-busting provisions, but it addressed a fiscal need in Wisconsin and the school districts and municipalities that receive state aid. Public employee benefits had become overly generous and burdensome on employers, and Act 10 addressed that by requiring employees to contribute […]
Matthew DeFour: Mary Burke, who has already been endorsed by more than a dozen of the state’s largest private- and public-sector unions, said she supports making wages, hours, benefits and working conditions mandatory subjects of bargaining for public employees. She called the annual elections, the prohibition on requiring union dues of all employees, and a […]
Erin Richards: Kenosha schools and the teachers union were at odds over the issue of automatic dues deduction for non-union members. Supporters of the contract argued the agreement and terms within it, such as the provision for automatic dues deduction, were legal because of the Colás decision. Kenosha Unified spokeswoman Tanya Ruder explained the School […]
Steve Strieker, via a kind Michael Walsh email: My first teaching contract 19 years ago at a Midwest Catholic high school grossed $15,000. My retirement benefits consisted of a whopping $500 401K. Cutting into my take-home pay was a $1500 annual premium for an inadequate health insurance plan with a high deductible and 80-20 coverage […]
acing reduced membership, revenue and political power in the wake of 2011 legislation, Wisconsin’s two major state teachers unions appear poised to merge into a new organization called Wisconsin Together.
The merger would combine the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest teachers union, and AFT-Wisconsin, a smaller union that includes technical college, higher education and state employees, according to new draft documents.
At the same time, a national educators group that promotes itself as an alternative to unions — and has the backing of some conservative-leaning organizations — is picking up new members in Wisconsin.
The developments underscore the changing landscape for Wisconsin teachers unions since the passage of Act 10, which limits collective bargaining and makes it more difficult for unions to collect dues.
After Act 10, WEAC has lost about a third of its approximately 98,000 members and AFT-Wisconsin is down to about 6,500 members from its peak of approximately 16,000, leaders of both organizations have reported.
According to their most recent federal tax filings, WEAC collected about $19.5 million in dues in 2011, and AFT-Wisconsin collected about $2 million. Both have downsized staff and expenses.
The initial governance documents of Wisconsin Together, which include a transition document, constitution and bylaws, have been posted on AFT-Wisconsin’s website for members of both organizations to peruse. A final vote on whether to merge will be taken at a special joint assembly in Green Bay on April 26.
Last Monday’s Supreme Court hearing, scheduled for 90 minutes, went almost four hours, given numerous comments and questions from the Justices – all seven participating to some degree. The resultant responses caused tension, such as Attorney General Van Hollen’s response to Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s comment, “aren’t the parties’ arguments like ships passing in the night?” Van Hollen retorted that the two ships, “… are on a collision course” and “the State has a bigger ship and we shall win!”
As The Progressive editor Ruth Conniff wrote of the exchange, “That pretty much sums up the Walker Administration’s attitude toward the teachers, janitors, clerks, and municipal employees it seeks to disempower through Act 10. The state is bigger and stronger, Walker, Van Hollen, and their allies argue, and will not be deterred by public outcry, mass protests, or even the courts.”
MTI legal counsel Lester Pines, when presenting the Union’s argument resurrected the ship analogy, telling Van Hollen that, “The Titanic was a big ship too, compared to the relatively small iceberg that caused it to sink.” Pines added that the administration’s Act 10, like the Titanic, has hit an iceberg, and that the iceberg in this case is the Wisconsin Constitution.
In his argument, Pines told the Court that the fundamental argument came down to Constitutional rights. Pines’ claim led to Van Hollen claiming, “There is no constitutional right to collective bargaining.”
In February 2011, Governor Walker, as he described it, “dropped the bomb” on Wisconsin’s public employees, the birthplace of public employee bargaining, by proposing a law (Act 10) which would eliminate the right of collective bargaining in school districts, cities, counties, and most of the public sector. Collective Bargaining Agreements provide employment security and economic security, as well as wage increases, fringe benefits, and as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Holmes said many years ago, an effective voice for employees in the workplace. Unions had achieved these rights and benefits in a half-century of bargaining. Ostensibly proposed to address an alleged budget shortfall, the Governor’s proposed Act 10 not only called for reductions in economic benefits for public employees (e.g. limits on employer contributions toward pensions and health care), but prohibited public employers from bargaining with nearly all public employees over any issue, other than limited wage increases, under which no employee could recover losses due to the increase in the Consumer Price Index. For example, under Act 10, teacher unions can no longer bargain over issues of school safety, class size, planning and preparation time, and health insurance; educational assistants can no longer bargain over salary progression, insurance coverage or training; clerical/technical workers can no longer bargain over work hours, vacation benefits or time off to care for sick children; and state workers can no longer bargain over whistle-blower protections. The intent of the Governor was to silence public employees on issues of primary importance to them and those they serve, and to eliminate their political activity. His stated extreme, no compromise, “divide and conquer” approach was to gain full power over employees. That resulted in MTI members walking out for four days to engage in political action. Soon thereafter thousands followed MTI members, resulting in the largest protest movement in State history.
MTI legally challenged Walker’s law and in September, 2012, MTI, represented by Lester Pines, and his partners Tamara Packard and Susan Crawford, prevailed in an action before Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas, wherein Colas found that most of Act 10 is unconstitutional. In ruling on MTI’s petition, Colas agreed that Act 10 is unconstitutional as it violates MTI members’ freedom of association and equal protection, both of which are guaranteed by the Wisconsin Constitution. This enabled MTI to bargain Contracts for its five (5) bargaining units for 2014-15. MTI’s are among the few public sector contracts in Wisconsin for 2014-15.
When Dane Country Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas held officials in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration in contempt this week, he was pushing back against a level of unchecked lawlessness by this administration that is “practically seditious,” says attorney Lester Pines.
Colas had already ruled a year ago that parts of Act 10 — the law that ended most collective bargaining rights for most public employees — were unconstitutional. This included Act 10’s requirement that unions hold annual recertification elections. But commissioners at the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission decided to ignore that decision. They went ahead and prepared for recertification elections for more than 400 school district and worker unions in November.
“The commissioners knew full well” they were flouting the court, Colas said, despite their cute argument that the word “unconstitutional” applied only to the specific plaintiffs in the case — teachers in Madison and city workers in Milwaukee.
As John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., put it, Colas’ decision “is one of the most important decisions not only in public-sector labor history, but also in democracy.”
The principle here is simple. If a law is unconstitutional on its face, it’s unconstitutional in every case. That has always been understood in Wisconsin courts. And, Judge Colas pointed out, the Walker officials understood it, too.
Collective bargaining was restored for all city, county and school district employees by a Court ruling last week through application of an earlier (9/14/12) Court decision achieved by MTI. Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas found that Governor Walker’s appointees to the WERC, James Scott and Rodney Pasch, were in contempt of court “for implementing” those parts of Act 10 which he (Colas) previously declared unconstitutional, which made them “a law which does not exist”, as Colas put it.
The Judge told Scott & Pasch to comply with his finding of unconstitutionality or be punished for their contempt. They agreed to comply.
Judge Colas made his ruling on unconstitutionality on September 14, 2012. MTI was represented by its legal counsel, Lester Pines.
In the contempt claim, in addition to MTI, Pines represented the Kenosha Education Association and WEAC. The latter was also represented by Milwaukee attorney Tim Hawks, who also represented AFSCME Council 40, AFT Wisconsin, AFT nurses and SEIU Healthcare, in last week’s case. Also appearing was Nick Padway, who partnered with Pines in representing Milwaukee Public Employees Union Local 61 in the original case.
Judge Colas specifically ordered the WERC to cease proceeding with union recertification elections, which in his earlier ruling were found to be unconstitutional. Act 10 mandated all public sector unions to hold annual elections to determine whether union members wished to continue with representation by the union. Act 10 prescribed that to win a union had to achieve 50% plus one of all eligible voters, not 50% plus one of those voting like all other elections. The elections were to occur November 1.
Today, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty – along with Education Action Group – have launched a website that will make it easier for teachers in Wisconsin to exercise their rights. A new website, TeacherFreedom.org, helps teachers opt out of their public unions.
After filling out a short questionnaire on the website, an opt- out letter is automatically created. The teacher then must mail the signed letter to his or her union officer. “TeacherFreedom.org serves as a tool to enable teachers to leave their union if they so choose,” explains Rick Esenberg, WILL President and General Counsel.
“Under Act 10, teachers can resign from their labor union and choose to stop paying union dues, saving money in the process. For the first time, teachers are free agents and not bound to the rigid union employment rules,” he continued.
MTI prevailed last year in a Circuit Court decision in which Judge Juan Colas found much of Act 10, what Governor Walker referred to as his “bomb” on public employee unions, to violate the Constitution. That decision is on appeal to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the Walker administration and his appointed Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission has simply thumbed their nose at Colas’ ruling and vowed to continue forcing unions to conduct annual elections, wherein a union is decertified if it does not receive 50%+1 of those eligible to vote, not just 50%+1 of those voting as in every other election.
In a September 17, 2013 ruling, Judge Colas told Governor Walker and the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission’s commissioners that a Circuit Court decision, while they may not like it or agree with it, is precedential and must be followed throughout the State. Colas said, “The question here is not whether other courts or non-parties are bound by this court’s ruling. It is whether the defendants are bound by it.” WERC was a named defendant in MTI’s suit, so as all defendants to a lawsuit are, and in a case in which the statute was found facially unconstitutional, they (WERC) are barred from enforcing Act 10 under any circumstances, against anyone.
The union representing Kenosha teachers has been decertified and may not bargain base wages with the district.
Because unions are limited in what they can do even if they are certified, the new status of Kenosha’s teachers union — just like the decertification of many other teachers unions in the state that did not or could not pursue the steps necessary to maintain certification in the new era of Act 10 — may be a moral blow more than anything else.
Teachers in Milwaukee and Janesville met the state’s Aug. 30 deadline to apply for recertification, a state agency representative says. Peter Davis, general counsel for the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, said the Milwaukee and Janesville districts will hold recertification votes in November.
To continue as the recognized bargaining unit in the district, 51% of the union’s eligible membership must vote in favor of recertification, according to the controversial Act 10 legislation passed in 2011.
With contracts that were in place through the end of June, teachers in the three large southeastern Wisconsin districts were protected the longest from the new legislation, which limits collective bargaining, requires unions to hold annual votes to be recognized as official entities, and mandates that teachers and other public employees pay more out-of-pocket for their health care and retirement costs.
“It seems like the majority of our affiliates in the state aren’t seeking recertification, so I don’t think the KEA is an outlier or unique in this,” Brey said.
She added that certification gives the union scant power over a limited number of issues they’d like a voice in.
Sheronda Glass, the director of business services in Kenosha, said it’s a new experience for the district to be under Act 10.
Contrary to some published media reports, however, the union did not vote to decertify.
In fact, no such election was ever held, according to KEA Executive Director Joe Kiriaki, who responded to a report from the Conservative Badger blog, which published an article by Milwaukee radio talk show host Mark Belling, who said he had learned that just 37 percent of the teachers had voted to reauthorize the union.
In a prepared statement, Kiriaki criticized the district for “promoting untrue information” to Belling.
Union chose to focus on other issues
Kiriaki said the union opted not to “jump through the hoops,” such as the recertification requirement, created by Act 10, the state’s relatively new law on collective bargaining.
The law, among other things required the annual re-certification of unions if they want to serve as bargaining representatives for teachers and other public workers. It also prohibits most public employees from negotiating all but base wages, limiting them to the rate of inflation.
Kiriaki cited a ruling by a Dane County Circuit Court judge on the constitutionality of Act 10, saying he believed it would be upheld.
Interestingly, Madison School District & Madison Teachers to Commence Bargaining. Far more important, in my view is addressing Madison’s long standing, disastrous reading results.
In my view, the unions that wish to serve their membership effectively going forward would be much better off addressing new opportunities, including charters, virtual, and dual enrollment services. The Minneapolis Teachers Union can authorize charters, for example.
Much more on Act 10, here.
A conversation with retired WEAC executive Director Morris Andrews.
The Frederick Taylor inspired, agrarian K-12 model is changing, albeit at a glacial pace. Madison lags in many areas, from advanced opportunities to governance diversity, dual enrollment and online opportunities. Yet we spend double the national average per student, funded by ongoing property tax increases.
An elected official recently remarked to me that “it’s as if Madison schools have been stuck in a bubble for the past 40 years”.
ines helped spearhead the legal challenge against Act 10, which curtailed collective bargaining for most public sector workers. In a case involving Madison Teachers Inc. and Public Employees Local 61 in Milwaukee, a Dane County circuit judge struck down portions of the law.The case now goes to the state Supreme Court.
In another case involving Pines and Madison Teachers Inc., a Dane County judge struck down a portion of a law that gave Walker the power to veto rules written by the state schools superintendent. The case is now before the 4th District Court of Appeals in Madison.
Pines, representing the League of Women Voters, successfully argued in front of a Dane County judge that the state’s voter ID law violated the Wisconsin Constitution. The decision was overturned by the 4th District Court of Appeals, and the league has petitioned the Supreme Court to review the ruling. The voter ID measure remains on hold because of a ruling in a separate case.
“I believe that my law firm — because of the position we’re in and because of the work we’ve done — has disrupted the (Walker) agenda by using appropriate means and calling on the third equal branch of government (the court) to stop the majoritarian and authoritarian impulses of this Legislature,” he says.
The outcome of the cases is far from certain. But one thing is clear: Pines will keep up the fight.
Base wages, in all MTI/MMSD Collective Bargaining Agreements, have not increased since the passage of Act 10 in 2011. Act 10 also removed the benefit for the members of all MTI bargaining units of the District paying the employee’s share of the mandated deposit in the Wisconsin Retirement System. This in itself caused a 6.2% reduction take-home wages. MTI had negotiated in the early 1970’s that the District pay the WRS deposit. This part of Act 10 caused a loss in earnings of $11.7 million last school year and another $12.9 million this school year for District employees.
All employees do not automatically move up on the salary schedule each year. Members of the clerical/technical bargaining unit, for example, receive a wage additive based on months of service. These “longevity” payments begin at the 49th month of service, with the next one beginning at the 80th month of service.
There are similar increments between the increases in longevity payments. Last year, 199 individuals remained at the same salary, while this year, there were 70 who received no increase in wage.
Members of the educational assistant and school security assistant bargaining units, for example, receive a longevity increase after three years of service, but not anotheroneuntilafter12yearsofservice. Lastyear,282 individuals remained at the same salary, while this year there were 321 who received no increase in wage.
The teachers’ salary schedule requires that a teacher earn six credits each four years and receive his/her principal’s recommendation to be able to cross the salary barrier. This is at each four-year improvement level. For incentive levels, beginning at level 16, one progresses only every two years, and then only if he/she earns three credits and receives his/her principal’s recommendation. Last year, 941 individuals remained at the same salary, while this year, there were 701 who received no increase in wage.
A group of veteran Neenah teachers has sued to restore early retirement benefits that could amount to $170,000 each.
The suit was expected since February, when the School Board denied a group of teachers’ demand to restore them to the original early retirement deal eliminated last year after Act 10.
The named plaintiffs are six “distinguished teachers,” but the suit, filed Monday in Winnebago County Circuit Court, seeks to represent a class including more than 250 teachers who had been eligible to participate in the former early retirement plan.
Their attorney, Charles Hertel, said Neenah Joint School District administrators used the plan for years to recruit teachers, and to induce them to accept lower-than-market salaries. Many teachers’ retirement planning was based on the expectations of the later payouts, he said.
The lawsuit asserts four claims: that the district must be held to promises on which teachers relied, that cutting the plan amounts to unjust enrichment for the district and negligent misrepresentation and strict responsibility.
The suit seeks compensatory damages, costs and enforcement of the retirement plan.
The public schools in Wisconsin are some of the best in the country. Over the years, businesses have moved into this state knowing their employees will be able to feel confident sending their children to the local public schools.
What will happen as the years go by and the public schools in this state lose their ability to meet the expectations of excellence in education? Exactly what will attract businesses to this state when the public schools are no longer quality schools? Are we going to woo companies with the promise of our wonderful weather?
Too many of us have taken our public schools for granted. From early childhood through high school, we have become used to well-trained, dedicated teachers, quality educational programs, identification and early intervention of learning issues and a host of other resources found only in the public schools. We expect this of our public schools, but with Act 10, these opportunities that were of great value to all of our children will continue to disappear.
Unions actively reorienting themselves – even in states without Act 10-like legislation in place – are mobilizing teachers around curriculum and instruction issues. That could mean organizing teachers to champion what’s working best in the classroom by bringing new ideas to the school board, or working to get the community to support specific practices.
It means working more collaboratively, and offering solutions.
But collaboration can break down over ideological differences regarding what’s best for kids. Or teachers.
For example, while WEAC has supported a statewide evaluation system for educators in recent years, it has resisted emphasizing test scores in such evaluations. Others argue that robust data on test-score performance can say a lot about a teacher’s quality and should be used to make more aggressive decisions in termination or promotion.
Asking teachers to take a more active role in their union could also become an additional stress.
MTI’s September 14 Circuit Court victory, in which significant portions of Governor Walker’s union busting legislation (Act 10) were found to be unconstitutional, has gained world-wide attention.
Recognition has been noted twice in The Wall Street Journal, along with articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, in Great Britain, and numerous newspapers throughout Wisconsin. It has also been the subject of daily TV and radio coverage. Announcement of the decision received a standing ovation at the Fighting Bob Fest, and at the Osaka, Japan Social Forum. Public employees in Osaka are suffering from Act 10-like legislation.
MTI Executive Director John Matthews hailed Judge Colas’ decision as restoring the basic rights of collective bargaining to Wisconsin’s public employees. He said, “This is the ticket to restoring employees’ equal voice in the workplace, and the means of assuring justice for those not only represented by MTI, but by numerous other Wisconsin public sector unions.” MTI has requested that the Madison Metropolitan School District timely engage in collective bargaining with MTI to establish contract terms for MTI’s five (5) collective bargaining units, for the 2013-14 contract term.
The State has asked Judge Colas to stay (delay) implementation of his decision pending appeal.
Educators are waking up all over Madison this morn able to concentrate on students like it’s Jan 2011. It’s beautiful. #bargainingworks
— Madison Teachers Inc (@MtiMadison) September 25, 2012
CT: What about the training and capabilities of Madison school teachers and how they deliver in the classroom day to day — is there room for improvement there?
JM: Well, there’s always room for improvement — there’s room for improvement in what I do. I can only say that the Madison School District has invested all kinds of things in professional development. One thing teachers tell us if they have time to work together, they can make strides. I found early in my career if I’m having a teacher identified as having a performance problem, ask the principal who is the best at doing what they want this teacher to do. Then you go to that teacher and say: “You have a colleague who needs help, will you take them under your wing?” I don’t have access to any of what they talk about, management doesn’t have access to that — it’s been a remarkably successful venture.
CT: In discussion of the achievement gap in Madison I’ve heard from African-American parents up and down the economic spectrum who say that their children are met at school with low expectations that really hamper their performance.
JM: I’ve heard that too. The Madison School District has an agreed-upon mandatory cultural course that people have to take. But there are people in society who don’t like to be around other races. I don’t see that when teachers are together. And we have a variety of people who are leaders in MTI — either Asian or Indian or black — but there are people who have different expectations from people who are different from them.
CT: Does the union have a role in dealing with teachers whose lowered expectations of students of color might contribute to the achievement gap?
JM: The only time MTI would get involved is if somebody was being criticized for that, we’d likely be involved with that; if someone were being disciplined for that, we would be involved. We’ve not seen that.
In other words, MPS had a surplus of teachers because older teachers were not retiring so as not to lose state pension benefits. Hence, a second pension to offset any loss was created. However, since 1982 the early retirement penalty for teacher has been reduced or eliminated, turning the second pension into an additional benefit which MPS states it had “no intent to establish.”
The survival of the second pension long past its justifiable usefulness is a result of a collective bargaining process that rarely gives back established benefits (see, for example, MTEA’s 2011 rejection of concessions that would have saved teacher jobs). Former MPS superintendent Howard Fuller, school choice advocate George Mitchell, and former WPRI staffer Michael Hartman did a good job documenting in a 2000 book chapter (see figure one) the dramatic growth of the MPS/MTEA contract from an 18 page document in 1965 to a 232 page document in 1997. The most recent published contract? 258 pages.
Much more, here.
Not so long ago, the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC), the state’s largest teachers union, sported the motto, “Every child deserves a great school.”
The irony of that motto was not lost on school administrators, particularly in more recent years, as they struggled to balance budgets while local WEAC unions refused to accept financial concessions that would have helped maintain quality programming for students.
In school district after school district, layoffs have occurred, class sizes have increased and student programs have been cut, partially because many
unions refused to accept temporary pay freezes, or pay a bit more toward their own health insurance or pension costs.
This was happening all over the state, even before Gov. Scott Walker was elected and his biannual budget slowed the rate of state aid to schools.
The problem is not difficult to understand. Most public school administrators tell us they spend between 75-85 percent of their total budgets on labor costs, mostly for salaries and benefits for union teachers. If a budget crisis hits and spending cuts are needed, school boards will logically look at the biggest part of the budget.
But under the old collective bargaining system, local teachers unions had broad legal power to reject cuts in labor costs, and frequently did so. With 80 percent of the budget often untouchable, school boards had little choice but to cut from the 20 percent that has the most profound effect on students.
Something is definitely wrong with that picture, if you believe that schools exist primarily to benefit children.
While there is no disputing the divisiveness and political bitterness Act 10 has created, the law that redefined collective bargaining in Wisconsin has made a dramatic difference for the state’s financially struggling school districts, according to a report slated for release this week.
But superintendents tell Wisconsin Reporter they worry about the long-lasting emotional scars left by the contentious reform battle.
Wisconsin school districts have realized significant savings either through the implementation of collective bargaining changes or the threat of them, according to an analysis by the Michigan-based Education Action Group Foundation, known as EAG, a nonprofit research organization promoting school spending reform.
The pointed report, titled “The Bad Old Days of Collective Bargaining: Why Act 10 Was Necessary for Wisconsin Public Schools,” devotes plenty of its pages to applauding the collective bargaining reforms led by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, but it backs up the assertions with some telling numbers.
We’re in duck and cover mode…purely from the title of this entry.
But, you know what, folks? Whether you are a Walker devotee or a Walker detractor, you have to admit that EVERYTHING that Act 10 did was not bad. Yes, at its heart, Act 10 was a heinous attempt to cut public employees down at the knees. That was neither right nor fair. You can argue whatever you like, but the fact remains that for these scorned public workers, benefits were improved over the years IN LIEU OF salary increases. Rightly or wrongly so, that is what it boiled down to. Publicly, governors declared victory by giving public employees only modest raises (1-2%) each year. In some years, they got nothing. Quietly, however, behind the scenes, they negotiated with the unions to pick up the tab for a greater percentage of benefits…or offered another few days of annual leave(vacation).
This didn’t happen overnight, people! This process developed over the past 25-35 YEARS! We know of many examples of private sector workers who took a job with in the public sector at a substantial demotion in terms of pay. These workers made a choice to do so in exchange for enhanced job security. Again…be it right or wrong, that’s what they did. It took many of these workers 10 years or more to be earning the same salary they did when they left the private sector. But it was a choice, and they were OK with their choice.
Don’t tell us that the private sector is struggling. Certainly, many private businesses and employees have suffered since the economic crisis which began over 3 years ago. But many are faring much better. We are hearing of BONUSES being given this holiday season. Public employees have never and WILL never hear of such a thing. We also know many private sector employees that have good to excellent health and retirement benefits.
Wednesday I wrote about some of the ways collective bargaining can have a monetary cost. Last night the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) provided an example of how its reform has given local governments a path to financial stability. The MPS board, reports Erin Richards in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, approved by a vote of 6-3 a set of reforms projected to reduce the district’s post-retirement benefit liability by $900 million over the next thirty years.
Negassi Tesfamichael: However, the group said support dipped once additional information on current spending levels and other information about the budget was included. The poll found only a third of respondents supported Evers’ proposal to freeze the growth of private school vouchers and independent charter schools. The poll found a majority of support for public […]
David Blaska: I met many people throughout the city (and reconnected with sister Jane). Gratified at the many educators, teaching support staff, and mainstream Democrats who said they voted for me. Another shout-out to liberal downtown Madison blogger Greg Humphrey. That took courage. We started a long overdue conversation in this community. That will continue. […]
Bob Wickers and Sam Coleman: These are legitimate questions that none of us can answer. Even though taxpayers will have to fund whatever agreement is ultimately reached, the public knows virtually nothing about the proceedings. They won’t see any details until a final contract is approved, and they will likely never know about the offers […]
Chris Rickert: The questionnaire also includes several questions about teachers’ ability to have a say in their compensation and working conditions, and asks whether the candidates “support the reinstatement of collective bargaining rights for all public employees (currently prohibited by Act 10)?” Act 10 is the controversial 2011 law passed by Republicans that stripped most […]
Negassi Tesfamichael: Propelled by an 80 percent turnout rate, Madison Teachers Inc. won its annual re-certification election Monday, according to results released by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission. Most public sector unions in the state are required under Act 10 to participate in annual certification elections in order to retain their standing as labor representatives […]
Molly Beck: Gov. Scott Walker said he wants Wisconsin high school students to graduate at a rate higher than any other state in the nation by the end of his third term should he be re-elected this fall. Walker, who in an interview late Monday called himself “an education governor,” set the goal to coincide […]
Elizabeth Ross: This study examines all 50 states’ and the District of Columbia’s requirements regarding the science of reading for elementary and special education teacher candidates. Chan Stroman: “Report finds only 11 states have adequate safeguards in place for both elementary and special education teachers.” Make that “10 states”; with Wisconsin PI 34, the loophole […]
Matthew De Four: It wasn’t until the end of Wednesday night’s Democratic gubernatorial forum at the Madison Public Library that someone took a swing at the candidate who has led in all of the polls. Former party chairman Matt Flynn in his closing statement called State Superintendent Tony Evers “Republican lite” and criticized him for […]
Joanne Jacobs: “We’re becoming more political, not less political,” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten declared at the union’s annual convention, which featured speeches by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and an award for Hillary Clinton. The NEA, at its convention, gave awards to former First Lady Michelle Obama and former NFL quarterback Colin […]
Amber Walker: Critics were also concerned about Madison Prep’s operating costs — totaling $11,000 per student — and its reliance on non-union staff in the wake of Wisconsin’s Act 10, a state law that severely limited collective bargaining rights of teachers and other state employees which passed early in 2011. Caire said despite the challenges, […]
Arthur Laffer and Steve Moore: The Illinois crisis is so severe that paying the promised pensions would require a 30-year property-tax increase that would cost the median Chicago homeowner $2,000 a year, according to a study from three economists at the Chicago Fed. Not a penny of that added tax money would pay for better […]
WILL: on K-12 Education Reform In almost every context, words matter. Public opinion on particular issues can shift greatly depending on the language used, and K-12 education reform is no exception. To help further understand this, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty commissioned Research Now Survey Sampling International to conduct a statewide survey experiment […]
Cody Miller, via a kind reader: I’ve been a member of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) — one of the nation’s most powerful state teachers unions — since I started working in education a year and a half ago. I’ve been an advocate for education my entire life, served on a board of trustees […]
Alan Borsuk: Teachers and the teachers’ union. Don’t expect a happy workforce. The union has turned up the volume on its unhappiness and it remains a powerful force, even without the bargaining powers it had before Act 10, which dramatically curtailed collective bargaining for most public employees, including teachers. Beyond the union itself, it won’t […]
Daniel DiSalvo and Stephen Eide: Blue-state Democrats have denounced last year’s tax reform as a partisan attack. Thanks to the new $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local taxes, households in places like California and New York will soon feel the stinging cost of big government. This will make raising taxes more difficult, which […]
Dave Zweifel: The MTI case was a narrow one. Like all public unions, thanks to Scott Walker’s infamous Act 10 MTI has to hold an annual certification election supervised by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission to continue representing workers. But Act 10 requires approval of not the majority of those voting, but a majority of […]
Alana Samuels: Lately it seems that, every week, a new group of media employees votes to join a union. On Tuesday, a majority of employees at Slate voted to join the Writers Guild of America, East. This came a few days after newsroom employees of the Los Angeles Times voted to join the NewsGuild–Communications Workers […]
Eric Levitz: The GOP understands how important labor unions are to the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party, historically, has not. If you want a two-sentence explanation for why the Midwest is turning red (and thus, why Donald Trump is president), you could do worse than that. With its financial contributions and grassroots organizing, the labor […]
Jonathan Adler: This paper presents the first analysis of the effect of teacher collective bargaining on long-run labor market and educational attainment outcomes. Our analysis exploits the different timing across states in the passage of duty-to-bargain laws in a difference-in-difference framework to identify how exposure to teacher collective bargaining affects the long-run outcomes of students. […]
Anne Chapmen & Rob Henken: In April 2016, the Public Policy Forum published Help Wanted: An analysis of the teacher pipeline in metro Milwaukee.2 This was the third in a series of reports on public school educators in the Milwaukee area. Help Wanted set out to better understand how the public teacher workforce in the […]
Molly Beck: Six years after Gov. Scott Walker and state Republicans made labor unions’ ability to retain members much more difficult, fewer than half of the state’s 422 school districts have certified unions. In the latest certification election — held in November and required by Walker’s signature 2011 legislation known as Act 10 — staff […]
Molly Beck: Overall, Walker proposed $11.5 billion for schools, including the $649 million increase. A spokesman for budget committee co-chairwoman Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said the Joint Finance Committee reduced the increase to $639 million because of reductions to funding proposed by Walker for rural school districts and for schools in the Milwaukee School […]
C.J. Szafir and Libby Sobic , via a kind email: Today state legislators all over the country are deciding how to comply with ESSA. When the last deadline for submitting proposals arrives this September, we may see a crop of promising plans for the future of K-12 education. Yet in Wisconsin, the planning process has […]
Will Flanders and Rick Esenberg: Let’s look at the long run and the short run. Since 1993, per-pupil spending, after adjusting for inflation, has increased by 7.2%. Although measures of student performance have been flat over that time period, the long-term trend in spending has clearly been up. And the short term is no different. […]
Molly Beck: The law, known as Act 10, required local governments who offer a state health insurance plan to their employees to pay no more than 88 percent of the average premiums. Walker’s 2017-19 state budget will now require the same of all school districts, regardless of which health insurance plans they offer. That spells […]
Tony Evers (PDF): 1. Why are you running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction? I’ve been an educator all my adult life. I grew up in small town Plymouth, WI. Worked at a canning factory in high school, put myself through college, and married my kindergarten sweetheart, Kathy-also a teacher. I taught and became a […]
As Stanford University economic researcher Barbara Biasi explains in a new study (which is awaiting peer review), Act 10 created a marketplace for teachers in which public-school districts can compete for better employees. For instance, a district can pay more to recruit and retain “high-value added” teachers—that is, those who most improve student learning. Districts […]
Dave Umhoefer and Sarah Hauer: But the steep decline in the number of teacher candidates started before Act 10’s passage, it follows a national trend, and Wisconsin is faring better than its neighbors, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel examination found. Experts say root causes of the drop include tougher training and licensure requirements and tight school […]
It is unfortunate two recent articles on the upcoming Madison School District tax & spending increase referendum lack data, such as: Total Spending for the current budget ($449,482,373.22 more) – about $18,000/student. Chicago spends about $14,336/student, Boston $20,707 and Long Beach $12,671/student. Historic Spending Changes (spending increases every year) Academic Outcomes vs. Spending Comparison with […]
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel The report by Dave Umhoefer and Sarah Hauer was the result of a study of the five-year impact of Act 10 during a nine-month O’Brien Fellowship in Public Service Journalism through the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University. Among the report’s findings: Teachers are moving from district to district, creating a year-round […]
Dave Zweifel: Many in Wisconsin are convinced that the teacher shortage here stems from Gov. Scott Walker’s and the Republican Legislature’s Act 10, the 2011 legislation that not only made it illegal for teachers’ unions to bargain, but required them to shoulder part of the load for their benefits, which resulted in take home pay […]
Doug Erickson Tommy Badger Aug 30, 2016 8:51am Our school board is living in the past. The state is not going to raise financial support for public schools. Our school board was given tools to make changes to operate in the new Republican reality. They refuse to use these new tools and continue to expect […]
Liam Dillon: California’s largest teachers union has given more than $13 million to the effort to extend income tax hikes on California’s highest earners, according to newly released state campaign finance reports. The report shows the California Teachers Assn. gave $3 million between April and June this year, in addition to the $10 million the […]
Madison School District PDF: We also know that MMSD has no extra factors to boost local revenues. Extra revenue factors, such as unused levy authority, General Fund Balance reserves, before considering a referendum to exceed the revenue limit, it is necessary to understand the tax levy forecast before any additional taxing authority. We have identified […]
Steven Walters: The UW-Madison political science professor, an Ozaukee County native, was stunned by what northern Wisconsin residents told her in diners, coffee shops, back rooms and barns between 2007 and 2012. “I did not expect to hear it, but many of the people I listened to in rural areas exhibited a multifaceted resentment toward […]
Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter (PDF), via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email: (By Andrew McCuaig, English teacher, LaFollette High School) Joining a union is an act of faith: a belief that people coming together with similar daily work lives can have an impact on those people who may have goals that don’t take into account […]
Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter, via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email (PDF): While Act 10 limits bargaining to base wages only, all other issues and conditions of employment are addressed as part of the Employee Handbook development process. Last year, MTI worked with MMSD administration and the Board of Education to establish a new collaborative process […]
Solidarity Newsletter, via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email (PDF): On March 7, MTI Executive Director Doug Keillor and MTI Office Manager Yvonne Knoche presented the recommended 2016-17 MTI Budget to MTI’s Finance Committee. The Committee unanimously approved the recommendation. In acknowledgment of the financial uncertainties ahead, the Budget recommends a 20% reduction in MTI expenditures […]
Benjamin Lindy: This Note uses the 1999 sunset and 2003 reauthorization of New Mexico’s public employee collective bargaining law to estimate the causal effect of teacher collective bargaining on student achievement. This Note finds that mandatory teacher bargaining laws increase the performance of high-achieving students while simultaneously lowering the performance of poorly achieving students. After […]
The Supreme Court: Every year, Petitioners are required to provide significant support to a group that advocates an ideological viewpoint which they oppose and do not wish to subsidize. Abood’s authorization of this clear First Amendment violation should be overturned, both to end this ongoing deprivation of basic speech and association rights, and to restore […]
Christina Beck: The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Monday in Friedrichs v. the California Teachers Association, a case that has the potential to dramatically change the future of organized labor in the United States. This case is the result of years of effort by 10 California teachers led by Rebecca Friedrichs, a longtime […]
Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter, via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email: Given the unique and retaliatory provisions of Act 10 that: Any person eligible to vote in the recertification election who does not vote is counted as a NO vote; To prevail in the election, a union must receive affirmative votes from 51% of those eligible […]
Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter, via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email: “In solidarity, we move forward together” came through loud and clear as MTI-represented District employees in all five (5) MTI bargaining units voted overwhelmingly to recertify MTI as their representative. Of those voting, the teacher unit voted 98.51% to recertify (as compared to 98.46% last […]
“I would guess, frankly, that no other school district union in the country has had a leader who has served as long as John,” Bellman said. “Because a union is democratic, his longevity is vivid evidence of the way he’s perceived by the people he serves. His ability to interact with members, to serve them, […]
Patrick Marley: The union Madison Teachers Inc. on Nov. 10 sought documents under the open records law that would show who had voted so far in the election that ran from Nov. 4 to Nov. 24. On June 16, the commission’s chairman, James Scott, denied the request, saying the ballots were in the hands of […]
Doug Erickson: Of the 2,838 Madison School District teachers eligible to vote, 86 percent cast a ballot to recertify the Madison Teachers Inc. union, according to the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, the state agency responsible for administering collective bargaining laws. The 20-day voting period ended at noon Tuesday. Much more on Madison Teachers, Inc. and […]
Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter, via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email (PDF): The present condition of politics in education is gloomy. School workers report high levels of stress, health problems, and thoughts of abandoning their career. Numerous teachers in Wisconsin already have, and it’s caused a teacher shortage nationwide. Many pinpoint the source – a lack […]
Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter, via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email (PDF): Getting Organized! MTI now has over seventy-five (75) Member Organizers including teachers, educational assistants, clerical-technical employees, substitute teachers, and retired MTI members who are committed to helping the next generation maintain their Union. Member Organizers are volunteers who serve as point persons in their […]