Education Funding

Bargaining Rights Under Fire in Wis.

By Sean Cavanagh — February 22, 2011 1 min read

Teachers across Wisconsin took to the streets, and to the state capitol, to protest Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to scale back public employees’ collective bargaining rights and cut their pension benefits.

Educators in a number of school districts also called in sick, forcing the cancellation of classes, the Associated Press reported. The 24,000-student Madison school district was forced to close for at least two days last week, because of staffing shortages.

The Republican governor’s proposal would restrict collective bargaining for most state and local employees to wage issues, limit contracts to one year, freeze wages until contracts are approved, and not require union members to pay dues. The governor also wants to require state employees to contribute 5.8 percent of salary toward their pensions and pay for about 12 percent of their health-care benefits.

“We have both an economic and a fiscal crisis in this state,” Mr. Walker said at a news conference last week. Wisconsin faces a projected two-year budget gap of $3.6 billion.

The 98,000-member Wisconsin Education Association Council is fighting the proposal, and teachers staged rallies across the state. State Democratic lawmakers, who blocked action on the governor’s measure in GOP-led legislature by refusing to show up for a vote.

Union president Mary Bell said that Mr. Walker’s goal was to “abandon Wisconsin’s long tradition of teamwork” that has worked for schools and children.

While teachers’ pension and health benefits are negotiated locally and vary across the state, districts often cover all pension costs, according to WEAC, a provision the union argues helps offset relatively low wages.

Wisconsin is not the only state where proposals affecting educators have stirred strong reactions.

In Idaho, Republican state schools chief Tom Luna is pushing a proposal to limit teacher collective bargaining, cut hundreds of teaching jobs over time, and raise class sizes. Mr. Luna awoke one morning last week to find the tires on his truck slashed. A spokesperson also said that a person who identified himself as a teacher showed up at the schools chiefs mothers house to voice objections to the plan, and that Mr. Luna was heckled during an appearance at a Boise coffee shop.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the February 23, 2011 edition of Education Week as Bargaining Rights Under Fire in Wis.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Project Manager
United States
K12 Inc.
High School Permanent Substitute Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
MS STEM Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
Speech Therapist - Long Term Sub
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District

Read Next

Education Funding How Much Each State Will Get in COVID-19 Education Aid, in Four Charts
This interactive presentation has detailed K-12 funding information about the aid deal signed by President Donald Trump in December 2020.
1 min read
Education Funding Big Picture: How the Latest COVID-19 Aid for Education Breaks Down, in Two Charts
The massive package enacted at year's end provides billions of dollars to K-12 but still falls short of what education officials wanted.
1 min read
Image shows an illustration of money providing relief against coronavirus.
DigitalVision Vectors/iStock/Getty
Education Funding Education Dept. Gets $73.5 Billion in Funding Deal That Ends Ban on Federal Aid for Busing
The fiscal 2021 deal increases K-12 aid for disadvantaged students, special education, and other federal programs.
3 min read
FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2020, file photo, the Washington skyline is seen at dawn with from left the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol.
In this Nov. 8, 2020, file photo, the Washington skyline is seen at dawn with from left the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol. (File Photo-Associated Press)<br/>
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Education Funding The Incredible Shrinking COVID-19 Relief Package for Schools?
The parameters of new bipartisan aid bill might signal that coronavirus relief for schools will fall short of what they've hoped for.
3 min read
The U.S. Capitol Dome
The sun shines on the U.S. Capitol dome in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Patrick Semansky/AP