The largest teachers’ union in Wisconsin is blaming Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s “union-busting legislation” for layoffs that will result in a 40 percent reduction in union staff.
Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) executive director Dan Burkhalter told reporters Monday that the staff layoffs were necessary due to a projected loss of revenue because Walker’s law ends payroll deduction for union dues.
The law also requires most public employees to pay more for retirement and health care, making collecting dues even more difficult.
“Across the state, school districts are eliminating positions either through layoffs or not hiring staff,” Burkhalter said. “Fewer school employees means loss of revenue for WEAC that represents them.”
About 98,000 public education employees belonged to WEAC before the new law. Now, the union needs to get a third of those employees to sign up again because they are no longer under contract from the state.
“We had to make decisions about this budget year that starts in a couple weeks, based on the number of members we have now,” Burkhalter explained.
“Despite the budget cuts and layoffs our goal remains the same,” he added. “To be a strong and viable organization that represents the voices of Wisconsin’s public school employees.”
The governor’s office declined to comment on the layoffs.