WEAC Attacked – Staff Complains About Union’s Own Labor Practices

MacIver News Serivce | September 12, 2011

[Madison, Wisc…] The state’s largest teachers’ union is under attack for the way it has treated it’s staff.

From an online posting of the National Staff Organization:

Because the Wisconsin Education Association Council is breaching staff contracts and destroying any working relationship with its employees, NSO President Chuck Agerstrand is cautioning all NSO members against applying for staff vacancies.

“WEAC management is taking a page out of Gov. Walker’s playbook and making up new employment rules not in the USU contract. They should be looking to the 42 employees they laid off to fill vacancies before they go outside the state,” said Agerstrand.

WEAC recently sent out a job posting for a staff position in the Racine UniServ office. WEAC’s new employment rule—which violates the WEAC/USU contract—says an employee must have successfully passed a year’s probation in the job he/she wants to bump into or the employee has no recall rights. The USU is challenging the management’s position.

Agerstrand is encouraging support for our NSO members. “I’m asking NSO members to show support for our Wisconsin USU brothers and sisters by refraining from applying for any position in Wisconsin until our colleagues have their position restored.”

On Aug. 15, 40 percent of WEAC’s employees received layoff notices—four days after the staff was made aware of impending layoffs. WEAC’s Executive Director Dan Burkhalter blamed Walker’s budget cuts for the layoffs.

Earlier this year, Richard Moore of the Lakeland Times reported on the high compensation levels hauled in by WEAC’s top brass.

Dan Burkhalter, WEAC executive director, was raking in $242,807, with $177,366 in wages; government relations director Robert Burke hauled in $189,505, with wages of $128,428; information and communications technology director Nathan Harper made $189,528, with wages of $129,221; financial and membership services director Jane Oberdorf made $188,164, with wages of $131,328; affiliate relations director Robert Baxter was paid $186,461, with wages of $127,774; and collective bargaining director Daniel Holub made $165,112, with wages of $110,534.

And what about WEAC president Mary Bell, the union’s public persona, who describes herself as a teacher from Wisconsin Rapids? She made $173,466, with wages of $138,031. That’s on par with Gov. Scott Walker’s salary of $144,423.

All totaled, those seven employees collected $1,335,043, with wages of $942,682.

NSO President concluded his online tirade with a full-thrated rebuke of the unoin:

“WEAC staff played an important role in the rallies and protests against the governor’s anti-union legislation and in keeping WEAC a viable organization. And this is how they’re rewarded for their efforts? It’s unconscionable that WEAC is going outside the state to fill jobs when they 42 NSO members out of work,” he wrote.