Local teachers need not recertify unions for a yearLast week, teachers unions across Wisconsin rushed to meet a Sept. 30 deadline to file for recertification.
By: Emily Kram, Superior Telegram
Last week, teachers unions across Wisconsin rushed to meet a Sept. 30 deadline to file for recertification.
Unions with contracts currently in place, however, won’t face a recertification vote for at least another year.
“We’re watching what’s going on at the state level and in districts across the state,” said Dana Parask, executive secretary for the Superior Federation of Teachers. “We have lots of time to make a decision here.”
Teachers in the Superior and Maple school districts don’t need to file for recertification until 2012.
Both the Maple Federation of Teachers, Local 1293, and Superior Federation of Teachers, Local 202, have contracts in place that remain in effect until June 30. The Superior teachers voted to accept their contract on March 1, while the Maple teachers approved their contract on June 28.
According to the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, only contracts ratified on or before June 28 are valid.
School district unions with contracts currently in place do not need to file for a recertification vote until the year in which their contracts expire. For most unions, including those in Maple and Superior, that means they’ll need to file by Sept. 30, 2012. Recertification votes will then be held in October or November.
The new collective bargaining law introduced by Gov. Scott Walker requires state employee unions to hold annual recertification elections. Unions failing to hold the elections, or failing to gain the required votes, lose their ability to represent employees at the bargaining table.
The law requires 51 percent approval from a union’s total eligible voters to recertify. Unions must also pay a fee to file for recertification, ranging from $200 to $2,000 based on the number of employees.
Unions that fail to recertify may apply again after a one-year moratorium.
If a union does successfully recertify, its ability to bargain will still be very limited. Under the new legislation, unions are only able to negotiate for wage increases, which cannot exceed the rate of inflation.
“Unions are going to take on a different role. There’s no question we’re handicapped by what the governor has done,” Parask said. “My fear is that public education will be the loser in this.”
The Superior Federation of Teachers is working together with the school board and administration to draft a new employee handbook that will take effect after the union’s contract expires. Parask said all three parties are working well together and meet every month.
Most of the discussion so far has dealt with issues the state requires to be included in employee handbooks. By January, Parask expects to be tackling workplace conditions and other potentially touchy issues.
“To this point at least, I can say it’s been collegial. There have been zero arguments,” Parask said. “It doesn’t surprise me. We’ve always had a very good relationship in this district.”