Wisconsin NEA Requests Merger With AFT Affiliate

In a move that will surprise no one, the Wisconsin Education Association (WEAC) has requested to merge with the Wisconsin Federation of Teachers.  Act 10 requires teacher unions to be recertified every year in every district as the exclusive representative.  Teachers in many districts have refused to re-certify either union, and both unions have lost a substantial amount of members.  Mike Antonucci has the story.  As he points out, the merger will give both unions a chance to beef up their membership figures without actually adding any more members.

 Barring an unforeseen pitfall, Wisconsin will become the sixth state to sport a merged teachers’ union affiliate of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, joining Florida, Minnesota, Montana, New York and North Dakota.

The two unions are a philosophical match, and their respective governance structures should be easy to reconcile, but finances might cause some hardships. WEAC collected $19.5 million in dues while AFT-Wisconsin collected $2 million. But AFT-W slashed spending and finished 2012 with a small surplus, while WEAC ran a $4.3 million deficit. Staff contracts usually have provisions banning layoffs in the event of merger, so further reductions will be difficult.