Wisconsin Teacher Union Officials Taking Full Advantage of Judge’s Ruling

Wisconsin teacher union officials are taking full advantage of Judge Colas’ ruling that barred the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission from enforcing Act 10’s requirement that only wages and salary issues may be negotiated in monopoly bargaining.

Deneen Smith has the story in the Kenosha News.

A divided School Board voted Tuesday to begin bargaining new contracts with employee unions in the Kenosha Unified School District.

The board voted 4-3 for a three-part motion by board member JoAnn Taube. The motion postponed action on the employee handbook and wage increases that were on Tuesday’s agenda, and requires administration and members of the board to begin bargaining with unions on both wages and working conditions, calling for agreements to be reached no later than Nov. 15.

The third element of the motion calls for the board to “maintain status quo with respect to all mandatory subjects of bargaining” as provided in the union’s most recent contracts.

Taube said the action was needed in light of a Monday ruling by Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas that found the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission in contempt, and barred the commission from enforcing the collective bargaining restrictions required by Act 10.

The ruling also ordered that the Kenosha Education Association again be recognized as the union representing Unified teachers. The commission had earlier moved to decertify the union because they had not filed paperwork.

Attorney’s advice

“Let’s just delay a month and see what the courts decide,” Nuzzo said. “If we do things that are illegal, we could be held individually responsible, and I don’t want to be held individually responsible.

Judge’s ruling

Taube said she felt Colas’ ruling requires the district to bargain with the unions.

Act 10, which bars collective bargaining for most public employees with the exception of narrow wage provisions, was passed by the Legislature in 2011. Since then, it has been subject to a series of legal challenges. It is slated to go before the state Supreme Court in November.

Stevens said she felt the board needed to take action to delay a vote on the handbook — which was to replace union contracts and cover issues like layoff provisions and working conditions — and to restore contract talks.

“I think that’s really the message we need to send to our employees,” she said.