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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. We’ve already taken the hardest punch that Scott Walker could throw at us, and we’re still standing together. Even in the face of hostile politicians and corporate interests, we’ve shown that we won’t give up our voices in our workplaces and our communities.

So let’s take a moment to mourn yesterday’s loss, but let’s not allow it to alter our focus from what’s really important—the source of our strength, the organized local union. Ever since the passage of Act 10, AFT-Wisconsin members have been leading the way in our state, demonstrating that our power doesn’t come from the law, or from a politician, or from a contract. Our power comes from our organized numbers, and no election can take that away. That’s how our members have continued to make gains in their workplaces since 2011, successfully advocating for pay increases, workplace policy changes, and new structures for employee input beyond collective bargaining. We’ve shown that we can remain strong no matter who’s sitting in the governor’s office, and I’m excited to see what’s next for our local unions.

Despite our loss in the governor’s race, there were, however, several bright spots in yesterday’s results that I’d like to celebrate.  AFT-Wisconsin and Wisconsin AFL-CIO endorsed candidates won in many districts, including victories by Janis Ringhand and Janet Bewley in their races for the Wisconsin Senate. I’d like to congratulate these candidates on their success, and we look forward to working with them on issues of importance to our members and to Wisconsin’s working families.

Finally, I’d like to thank each one of you for your efforts to strengthen our movement. Recently, the hundreds and hundreds of hours that you’ve put into this election have been the most visible work. But I also want to thank our local union heroes.  The building representatives and stewards who take time to talk about their union with a new colleague. The local officers who make sure that membership lists are up-to-date and who keep members in the loop with regular emails and newsletters. The bargaining team members who negotiate the best possible base wage agreement and advocate for compensation beyond base wages. The brand-new members who signed their first union cards in September. You are the reason that I am full of hope and excitement for the future of our movement, and I couldn’t be prouder to be your fellow AFT-Wisconsin member.

In solidarity,

Kim Kohlhaas
President, AFT-Wisconsin

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