Wisconsin District Teachers Union Takes to the Sky in Struggle to Recertify

By: Mike Neminski

According to the Kenosha News, the Kenosha Education Association (KEA) took to the skies on Friday in their fight for recertification.  The teachers union purchased a banner dragged by an airplane reminding members to get out and vote.

Interim Executive Director of the KEA, Scott Farnsworth, used the unusual advertising tactic to notify new teachers of the vote. Farnsworth and other public sector unions claim that the deck is stacked against them due to Wisconsin’s Act 10. Act 10 requires unions to recertify annually. A majority of members must vote “yes” for the union to be recertified. Abstentions are counted as a “no” vote.

Since the implementation of Act 10, teachers unions have lost support from members.  In 2013, 408 local teachers unions applied for recertification.  After the 2014 recertification votes, only 280 certified teachers unions had successfully recertified, a drop of 31 percent.

Kenosha Education Association Took to the Skies in Their Fight for Recertification
Photo: Kenosha News/Kevin Poirier

Alexandra Freeze of the Association of American Educators (AAE), the largest national, non-union, professional educators’ organization, said the airplane stunt is a “desperate attempt by a union who saw membership plummet in the wake of teacher freedom of choice.”

Freeze says teachers don’t want their hard-earned money to support these tactics.

“It’s no wonder teachers are joining the Association of American Educators in record numbers.”

Brett Healy, the President of the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy in Wisconsin believes that the political muscle of the unions is weakening.

“Strange behavior is nothing new for KEA. Back in 2011, the union preferred laying off 200 of its own members rather than agree to the school district’s request to renegotiate their contract in the face of a budget shortfall.”

Voting for the recertification has been opened since November 4th and members can vote online or by phone. A loss in the recertification vote does not mean the collapse of the KEA. Members will be able to go to the union for legal questions or advocacy issues, but the KEA will not be able to bargain collectively for wages. Voting ends this Wednesday.

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