By Victor Skinner
KENOSHA, Wis. – We saw it coming a mile away.
In March, Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association President Bob Peterson joined with district officials to ask for an alteration of state law that would make it possible for the MTEA to make selected contract concessions without sacrificing their entire collective bargaining agreement.
Union officials from Madison, Kenosha, Green Bay and Racine sent him a letter lambasting the move out of fear that their “districts would likely push for similar legislation, given the precedent established by the MTEA.”
It turns out they were right. Last week the Kenosha school board made a public plea to Gov. Walker to give its teachers union a 90-day window to make contract concessions without voiding the entire collective bargaining agreement. The school district needs the concessions to help close a $28 million deficit and preserve as many as 120 jobs, according to TMJ4 television station.
The requests are WEAC’s worst nightmare, because they acknowledge that Walker’s Act 10 reforms are absolutely essential for struggling schools to balance their budgets without drastically impacting student programs or academics.
In Milwaukee, union leaders were uncharacteristically cooperative with district leaders, working to sell concessions to MTEA members, who ultimately voted to reject a proposal that would have saved numerous teaching positions.
Judging by comments made by Kenosha union officials, who apparently are not on board with the district’s plea to Walker, any district proposal to cut runaway labor costs in Kenosha likely will meet the same fate as the Milwaukee effort.
“I think they would have gotten more value out of writing a letter to Governor Walker asking that he send the $28 million that he took away from the school district,” Joe Kiriaki, Kenosha Education Association’s executive director, told TMJ4.
We think tax payers would get more value by kicking the union out of Kenosha schools.