A Call to Action

Yesterday’s election results were disappointing, to say the least. With Scott Walker’s reelection, we’re going to have some tough fights on our hands in the coming months. We must remain vigilant against many threats that are likely to come our way, including forced public school privatization, outsourcing of state positions, further cuts to higher education, and centralization of power in the state technical college system. But while the political environment in the Capitol will continue to present us with challenges, remember—AFT-Wisconsin members are resilient.

Legal Update from AFT-Wisconsin: MTI v. Walker

This morning, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued its ruling in Madison Teachers, Inc. v. Walker, in which the Court’s conservative majority overturned Judge Juan Colas’s 2012 decision that found most of Act 10 unconstitutional for municipal employees.  The decision did not affect our state employee and UW System unions, which have been operating under Act 10 since 2011.  As expected, a majority of the Court upheld the law, which is no surprise—the conservative ideologues that make up the Court’s majority have reliably sided with Scott Walker and big-money special interests in nearly every major case over the past few years. This decision is aptly summarized by Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, joined by Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, in her dissent, which states that "the majority's failure to address the actual issues presented in this case allows it to reach results that countenance the needless diminution of multiple constitutional rights." While I (and our legal counsel) strongly disagree with the Court’s opinion, today’s decision closes the books on the major legal challenges to Act 10.

AFT-Wisconsin Leaders Urge Legislators to Protect WTCS Local Control

Madison, WI: As legislators and other committee members met on Thursday, July 24, to discuss drastic centralization of power in the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), members of AFT-Wisconsin called on the committee to keep WTCS decision-making power in Wisconsin’s communities.  AFT-Wisconsin President Kim Kohlhaas, a teacher in the Superior School District, urged the committee to protect a system that gives each technical college the ability to respond to local needs and provide high-quality practical education.

AFT-Wisconsin President Kim Kohlhaas Responds to Harris v. Quinn

Like many of you, I have been anxiously awaiting the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Harris v. Quinn, a case which threatened to eliminate fundamental workers’ rights across the entire public sector. In this case, an extreme right-wing anti-union organization, the Right to Work Legal Foundation, used a dispute over a recently formed union for home health care workers in Illinois to attempt to outlaw fair share fees and even the right to exclusive union representation in the entire public sector of the United States. While the Court’s conservative majority sided with right-wing special interests in their decision, dealing a substantial blow to our sister and brother home health care workers in Illinois and elsewhere, the decision did not, as feared, impact the right to exclusive union representation in the public sector or the ability to require all public employees to pay their fair share of the cost of their representation. This, at least, is something to be grateful for.

An Update on Merger

I’m writing to let you know about an important development in the proposed merger of AFT-Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC). As you know, a vote on merger was originally scheduled to take place in April at both the WEAC and AFT-Wisconsin conventions. Last Saturday, WEAC’s Board of Directors voted to postpone a full merger vote.

Welcome to the Indiana Federation of Teachers, AFT/AFL-CIO

 

Dear IFT Members:
 
I saw where Gov. Mitch Daniels and his cronies are boasting about their $2.2 billion budget surplus.  You and I know where it came from.  The vast majority of their windfall came from the pockets of working men and women, public education, and social services.
 
Once again these actions beg the question: What are you willing to do about it?  Are you going to throw up your hands and simply accept what they have done to public education or are you willing to stand up and fight for what you believe in and have dedicated your life to?  Together, in a unified act of solidarity, we can reverse the harm that has been done in the Statehouse.
 
Will it be easy?  No!  But it will be better than accepting and working under the devastating blows that were leveled on us by the last two legislative sessions.  We must make sure that we do the following:
1.    be registered to vote,
2.    make sure all family members are registered,
3.    study the positions or voting records of those seeking office,
4.    vote,
5.    work hard for candidates that will support public education, and
6.    work hard to defeat incumbents that voted to harm us.
 
We would all be shocked if we knew how many of our union brothers and sisters in public education and other unions:
1.    are not registered to vote,
2.    were registered, but did not vote, or
3.    voted, but voted for those that harmed us.
 
I implore you to get involved and work hard to elect those candidates that will reverse the harm that has been inflected on you and your families.  Call your local leadership and ask what you can do.  Your future and the future of public education are at stake.
 
In Solidarity,
Rick
President, IFT
 
P.S.  What are you going to do with your $100 tax credit? I’m going to give mine to John Gregg for Governor (http://www.greggforgovernor.com/) and Glenda Ritz for Supt. of Public Instruction (http://www.ritz4ed.com/).