Commentary on Wisconsin Teacher Union Certification Election Data

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 all members, whether they vote or not.

During a recent multiday election, the union had asked WERC for a list of members who had voted, but WERC turned down the request, claiming that it might open employees who hadn’t voted to intimidation from the union. MTI filed suit for the list under the state’s open records law and won in Dane County Circuit Court.

The state appealed to the high court, which quickly reversed the lower court’s decision. It shouldn’t, given the current control of the court, have come as a surprise.

What was a surprise, though, was the court’s cavalier dismissal of the open records argument, a dismissal that many openness advocates believe could spell huge problems for future records cases. In essence, the court ruled that it is more important to protect union members from the possibility they may be pressured to vote than to uphold the state’s historic openness laws.

Much more on Madison Teachers, Inc., here.