UPDATE: Wisconsin’s Third Largest Teachers Union Decertified on August 31st

MacIver News Service | September 12, 2013


[Kenosha, Wisc…] The Kenosha Education Association (KEA), the state’s third largest teachers union, was officially decertified on August 31, 2013 according to the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.

Mark Belling, who broke this story on Thursday, said that the decertification came after a recent vote by members in which only 37 percent voted to reauthorize the union.

KEA is the largest teachers union to disband since Act 10 was signed into law in 2011. The union had 2,400 members according to their website. Act 10 limited collective bargaining rights for public employees and required public unions to have an annual vote to recertify.

Vincent Vernuccio, Director of Labor Policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, told the MacIver News Service, “recertification is needed to keep unions responsible to their members and to allow the change necessary to remove ineffectual representation. It is simply democracy and majority rule.”

Vernuccio pointed out that most workers do not have this option across the nation and is thankful that public workers in Wisconsin have this opportunity.

“The teachers simply did not see the value in the representation the union was offering,” Vernuccio said.

Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Powers Lake) stood by the reforms in Act 10 and echoed Vernuccio’s statement.

“It gives people an opportunity to have a voice,” Kerkman said. “People have seen that they don’t need the union.”

Now that the union has been decertified, it can no longer represent Kenosha Unified School District teachers during any negotiations. It also ends the automatic deduction of union dues on teachers’ paychecks.

Teachers can still make voluntary contributions to the decertified union, but the KEA has no official status in Kenosha schools.

Matt Patterson, a Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, sees the teachers union disbanding as a big win for taxpayers in Wisconsin.

“Thanks to Scott Walker’s courageous and effective reforms, the grip of public sector unions on Wisconsin’s public purse continues to loosen, to the benefit of taxpayers and to the detriment of Big Labor bosses,” Patterson said.

Brett Healy, President of the MacIver Institute agrees that taxpayers continue to benefit from Act 10.

“Act 10 has truly changed everything here in Wisconsin. The fact that teachers, in what once was one of the largest and most partisan local unions in the state, would voluntarily choose not to join the union is astounding. Act 10 gave these hard-working men and women the freedom to choose and they are telling big labor just exactly how they feel about forced-participation and the unions’ boorish behavior,” Healy said.

“If, just a short three years ago, you had predicted KEA would decertify, people would have called you crazy. But now, Act 10 has changed Wisconsin forever and taxpayers will continue to see dividends for years to come.”

According to a post on the KEA website on September 5th, five days after its decertification, Executive Director Joe Kiriaki planned to continue negotiating for wages after the Third Friday Count when official staff levels are determined.

“Once the District’s enrollment is determined and the actual amount of state aid known, we will be able to sit down with the District and see what can be done about providing some sort of fair wage increase for the teaching staff and ESP’s while maintaining a balanced District budget,” the post reads.

The post ends saying, “Our continued thanks for your patience, understanding and, most especially, your support.”

The MacIver News Service contacted the KEA for comment, but calls were not returned.

Original Post at 3:31pm on 9/12/13:

[Kenosha, Wisc…] According to Milwaukee Radio Host Mark Belling, the Kenosha Education Association has been decertified by its members. Only 37 percent of teachers in the Kenosha Unified School District, the third largest district in the state, voted to reauthorize the union.

Find out more from Mark Belling, who first broke the news, here.