The 2009-2011 state budget granted collective bargaining rights to University of Wisconsin faculty, academic staff and research assistants.
“This victory has been about 40 years in the making,” says Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President David Newby, who is also a former UW Teaching and Project Assistant. “It took remarkable political will, prompted by sustained pressure from university employees themselves.”
UW Superior and UW Eau Claire faculty have already voted to join AFT-Wisconsin. Contract negotiations at both schools are expected to begin soon and organizing efforts at other campuses are moving rapidly.
Click here to read more about UW faculty organizing wins.
Thanks to the state budget, independent health care aides who serve the elderly and disabled in their homes now have the right to organize a statewide union. The newly created Wisconsin Quality Home Health Care Authority also includes a registry to help seniors in finding qualified independent home health care providers and provide training for caregivers.
“On May 6th I had the honor of being in the room as the votes were counted and 5,500 home health care workers decide to become members of SEIU,” says Secretary Treasurer Neuenfeldt. “That was a powerful moment and a big win for our entire community.”
Click here to read more about Wisconsin home health care workers.
The state budget also reaffirmed the collective bargaining rights of family child care providers, who had previously joined together as AFSCME members under the authority of an Executive Order form Governor Doyle.
Click here for more information about Wisconsin Child Care Providers Together.
The state budget even repealed collective bargaining restrictions, known as the Qualified Economic Offer (QEO). Since the 1990’s these restrictions had undermined the ability of K-12 teachers to negotiate for fair wages and benefits.
The 2009-2010 Legislative Session resulted in several additional organizing related gains for workers. Senate Bill 523 prevents state and government agencies from using funds to discourage employees from exercising their right to form a union. This means that workers, such as those in the UW system, can make own decisions about bargaining without interference or intimidation from their employer.
Senate Bill 585, the Worker Privacy Act, gives working people the right to refuse to participate in political or religious meetings held by their employer. In the past these mandatory meetings have been used to scare workers out of forming a union. Under the new law, companies can still hold one-sided meetings but they can no longer punish workers who do not attend.
And of course, no list of organizing achievements from the 2009-2010 Legislative Session would be complete without mentioning the labor history bill. The law, signed last December, requires that the Superintendent of Public Instruction include the history of organized labor and collective bargaining in the model academic standards for social studies.
“This is the first such legislation in the nation. It will help balance the overwhelming business bias found in textbooks,” commented President Newby, who is also on the board of directors at the Wisconsin Labor History Society. “Thanks to the new requirements, young people will be better prepared to make the continuing improvements necessary in today’s workplaces.”
Click here for more information about labor history in Wisconsin schools.
“The politicians we elected during 2008 clearly respect the right to form a union,” summed up Sara Rogers, Executive Vice President and Political Director of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “In 2010 we must protect and build upon these gains by sending even more working family advocates to Madison.”
For more detailed information about the laws mentioned above, click here for the final report on the Wisconsin State Legislature’s 2009-2010 Session.
(The top two photos were taken on the UW Madison campus during the 2010 Alliance for Graduate Employee Locals (AGEL) Conference, hosted by the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA), an AFT – Wisconsin affiliate.
TAA, which represents over 3,000 graduate employees and ratified its first contract with the university in 1970, stands in solidarity with the faculty, academic staff and research assistants throughout the University of Wisconsin system who recently gained collective bargaining rights.
Top Photo: Peter Rickman of TAA, Nicholas Hengen from University of Minnesota, Matt Moehr of TAA, and Todd Reynolds of AFT at University of Maryland College Park. Second Photo: Regina McConaghy and Naomi Williams of TAA with Dave Jennings of GAU at University of South Florida and Mat Iglesk of GSU at Central Michigan University. Credit for Both Photos: Greg Neil. For more pictures from the AGEL conference, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/wisaflcio/sets/72157624116483712/.
In the bottom picture, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President David Newby receives a lifetime achievement award from the Wisconsin Labor History Society, presented by President Steve Cupery. Newby was recognized in part for his work on the labor history bill mentioned above. Photo Credit: Joanne Ricca. For more pictures from the 2010 Wisconsin Labor History Society Conference, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/wisaflcio/sets/72157623951060358/.)