By Scott Farnsworth
Wednesday, November 4th, is the day voting opens across the state of Wisconsin for public sector unions seeking recertification for the next year. The KEA filed petitions to conduct such elections for each of its three represented bargaining units: Teachers, ESP/Noon Hour Supervisors, and Substitute Teachers. Official notification from the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) should have been posted by administration in your buildings at some point over the past two weeks, and we would hope substitute teachers received notification by email. If you have not seen this information, or have questions about the process, please contact us (262.654.2127).
It is important that everyone vote – as we have emphasized repeatedly, a non-vote counts as a “No” in this election – so reach out to colleagues and ask them if they have done so. If they haven’t, assure them it takes only a minute or two. Voting is by phone or online, and whichever way you choose, it is important that you go through all the steps, including confirmation of your vote.
So why would non-members wish to have the KEA recertified?
First, it is a fairness issue. Our certification does not demand anyone join the KEA or pay for the many benefits of membership. People have the ability to choose not to join. Equally, those who wish to be members should have the opportunity to join the KEA and have it be able to effectively represent and address their needs. Recertification guarantees this ability.
Second, it is a matter of equity. Everyone benefits from the KEA’s representation. We speak for educators’ concerns and issues, and in support of public education – as does WEAC at the state level and NEA at the national. All public educators benefit from our work to secure resources for public education and to oppose the forces working to privatize education in our country – to make education yet another “haves vs. have nots” inequity.
More importantly – it takes an institution to speak effectively with another institution. This is just a matter of history. The current administration has made great efforts to address individual employee concerns of which they have been made aware. As the Strategic Planning sessions demonstrated, however, to get broad input on systemic issues is time-intensive and very difficult – if not impossible. Employees need an organization that allows them to organize around and express their concerns with a united voice – otherwise systemic problems can go unrecognized as isolated complaints for much longer than necessary. Unions were created by people for this reason, and the need for such concerted action has not disappeared over time – it cannot, it is the simply part of the reality of large organizations – even unions themselves. The KEA has a long history of bringing forward and working with administration to find workable solutions to wide-ranging issues.
So, VOTE “YES,” and take time to encourage your colleagues to do the same.