The new state law, held up pending a legal challenge, forbids most public worker unions from negotiating salary schedules, benefits and workplace rules with employers. It still allows bargaining over inflationary increases in “total base wages,” but generally makes it harder for unions to operate.
It also means school administrators would be able to make major changes to pay scales, school calendars and work rules without consulting teachers.
Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest teachers union, said that while teachers won’t necessarily obstruct changes, they are less likely to offer new ideas themselves if they are not covered by a union contract.
“Innovation takes risk,” Bell said. “Risk in an environment where your protection is gone is a much different proposition.”
Just days before Walker announced his changes to collective bargaining, WEAC had announced support for a statewide teacher evaluation system and performance-based pay. That overture, however, has been largely overshadowed by the union controversy.