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Resolution in opposition to Gov. Walker’s plan to strip Wisconsin public workers of their collective bargaining rights

The Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English strongly opposes Governor Walker’s plan to strip Wisconsin public workers of their collective bargaining rights. Here’s why:

  1. There has not been enough time for the legislature to make an informed decision.

The Governor is trying to rush this legislation through without an honest debate about the effects it will have on the state. In face-to-face meetings with school district delegates, Republican legislators admitted that they have not had time to read the bill and repeatedly expressed surprise at consequences of the bill that they had not foreseen. WCTE demands that more time be taken to fully understand the implications of the Governor’s proposal before a vote is taken.

  1. WCTE believes that decisions of this magnitude must derive from negotiation and open debate.

Unions and public workers have repeatedly informed the Governor that they are willing to negotiate necessary adjustments to wages and benefits to meet economic demands if the Governor is willing to remove all references to collective bargaining from his proposal. Despite public workers’ willingness to compromise, the Governor continues to refuse. Until he abandons this unreasonable stance, WCTE has no choice but to condemn his actions and oppose any vote on his proposal until all references to collective bargaining are removed.

  1. The quality of education in Wisconsin will suffer if the Governor’s proposal passes.

Teachers will have no voice in developing important policies such as class size, teaching load, professional development, planning time, extracurricular duties, and more; this will reduce the effectiveness of instruction because school districts will be unable to resist the temptation to use the removal of bargaining rights to cut costs in these and other areas. The Governor’s proposal also risks driving the most talented, dedicated, and experienced teachers from the profession or from the state.

Students, however, will suffer most. For example, five states currently prohibit collective bargaining for educators: South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, and Virginia. According to 2009 data, students in these states achieve significantly lower SAT and ACT scores than Wisconsin students do.

Since removing collective bargaining rights from public workers offers no economic gains to offset these losses in educational quality, WCTE has no choice but to oppose any vote on the Governor’s proposal until all references to collective bargaining are removed.

  1. School districts and administrators across the state have joined in their employees’ opposition to the Governor’s proposal.

The Wisconsin Association of School Boards, along with local municipalities and school districts across the state, has recognized the dangers of the Governor’s proposal and has issued statements to condemn it. WCTE recognizes that if these groups are willing to keep collective bargaining rights for their employees, there is no need for the radical changes the Governor proposes. Therefore WCTE strongly opposes any vote on the Governor’s proposal until all references to collective bargaining are removed.

  1. WCTE believes that public workers are not our enemies. They are our neighbors, our police, our firefighters and teachers; they are the people that plow our roads and clean our public buildings. WCTE demands that, in keeping with the venerable progressive traditions of our state, public workers be allowed to retain the bargaining rights that have sustained their professions for decades.

February 21, 2011

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