Teachers Unions Merger Talks
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin's two largest teachers unions will talk about merging as membership declines due to an overhaul of collective bargaining power.
The Wisconsin Education Association Council voted over the weekend at a special assembly to join the American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin in talks to merge the groups.
Leaders of both unions say membership has declined about 30 percent since the state's new collective bargaining law, known as Act 10, took effect.
“Overall membership is down, we're at about 70% of where we were pre-Act 10,” said Mary Bell, President of WEAC. But she adds that the merger likely would have happened regardless of Act 10. Bell said the two groups have been working together for years.
WEAC says the most important reason to merge the groups is to strengthen and unify advocates of public education.
“By merging, we would have one stronger organization,” said Lori Cathey, President of the Green Bay Education Association.
And this merger may help change the image of the unions, something Political Analyst, Michael Kraft, says is a must.
“The way people see unions today is very different from the way they were seen 30 years ago,” said Kraft.
If approved, the earliest the merger could take effect would be fall of 2014.