Huge Test for the Future of Government Unions

How Many Government Employees will Vote to Stay in a Union?

MacIver News Service | December 18, 2013

[Madison, Wisc…] Thursday is the deadline for members of over 400 public sector unions in Wisconsin to vote for or against recertification.

The elections started on November 29th, lasting through December 19th. The Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission is conducting the elections using a telephone voting service.

Under Act 10, public sector unions must file annual recertification papers. After that a majority of their members must ratify the recertification. Unions that fail to meet these requirements lose their ability to collectively bargain.

The largest union that filed to recertify is the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association, which represents 5,000 teachers and 1,500 education assistants separately. The next largest are the Racine Education Association and the Green Bay Education Association, each with 1,700 members. The Appleton Education Association rounded out the top five with 1,200 members.

The Janesville Education Association, which rushed through contracts after the passage of Act 10 in an attempt to avoid Walker’s reforms, is also filing to recertify. They represent 757 teachers in the Janesville School District.

WERC released vote counts recently that tallied each individual vote through December 9th. They did not release how individuals voted, but some of the vote totals are telling. 1,160 of the 1,670 teachers in Racine had voted by the 9th, and 376 of the 592 teachers in La Crosse have voted. 3,076 of the 5,087 teachers in Milwaukee have also voted.

Originally the recertification elections were scheduled to run from November 1st to 21st. However, that was delayed by Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas.

Two unions had sued the state over having to hold the recertification elections and Colas ruled in their favor. WERC then went ahead with planning elections for unions not involved in the lawsuit. Colas claimed his ruling applied statewide and found the commissioners in contempt. The State Supreme Court ruled that Colas was wrong on Thursday, November 21st and lifted the contempt order. WERC voted the next day to go ahead with the elections under the new timeline.

Check back Thursday for certification election results.