Unions Decline Recertification

A shot of Local 720’s empty bulletin board taken last week.

[Madison, Wisc…] Wisconsin’s public sector unions had until 4:30 on Thursday to decide whether or not they would attempt recertification for next year. Several decided to not even try.

Only six submitted the necessary paperwork. Those units include: Association of State Prosecutors, Building Trades Unit, Professional Employees in Research, Statistics and Analysis (PERSA), SEIU, WEAC and WSAA.

Some of the largest unions decided not to apply for recertification. Those include: Milwaukee Graduate Assistants, State Engineering Association, Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association, TAA, Wisconsin Physician and Dentist Association, Wisconsin Professional Employees Council, Wisconsin Science Professionals, Wisconsin State Public Defender Association, and Wisconsin State Employees Union (which includes AFSCME).

This is the latest example of Wisconsin’s public sector unions fading influence since Act 10 went into effect in June. That law limited collective bargaining to wage increases no greater than inflation. The law also requires unions to hold annual recertification votes among its members.

When the bill was first introduced the unions organized massive protests at the Capitol for weeks. When that failed to stop the bill, they went to the courts. When that failed, they tried to get Joanne Kloppenburg elected to the Supreme Court. When that failed, they tried to recall at least three Republican senators. There are not many options left.

The unions have been scaling back their visibility for the last couple of months. SEPAC, AFSCME’s political action affiliate, has not posted a new media release since July. Last week, the MacIver News Service discovered the AFSCME bulletin board at the Madison City-County Building was bare.

AFT has not updated its blog since August 16th. SEIU’s last update concerned the recall elections that ended last month.

Although there is no mention of recertification on its website, WEAC is still trying to remain active. It is currently hosting a series of public forums around the state focusing on education accountability and reform. WEAC’s website promotes the forums as “examples of our collective voice driving the way to education reform.”

The American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin has also given indication it will pursue this strategy of attacking Governor Walker’s policies from the sidelines.

Bryan Kennedy, president of AFT, told the Associated Press, “We’re going to be watchdogs for waste, fraud and abuse in these agencies.”

Protests at the Capitol have continued, but it’s no longer apparent the unions are actively involved. Most protest activities seem to be organized by a small group of hardliners.