In Post-Acr 10 Wisconsin, Madison Teachers Receive Whopping 0.25% Raise

In their continuing fight for post-Act 10 rights, Madison Teachers Inc. has ratified a contract with the Madison Metropolitan School board for 2015-2016. Both the board and the teachers wanted to get the deal in place before the State Supreme Court rules on the union’s complaint over local bargaining rights. The contract will give the teachers a 0.25 percent raise.

The Gov. Scott Walker era has placed new hurdles to contract talks. Speaking to the Wisconsin State-Journal, representatives of both sides touched on the imapct the current political climate has had on bargaining:

“There’s no way we would go back (to members) with that as a provision in the collective bargaining agreement, if the playing field for bargaining was as level as it used to be,” he said.

But School Board President Arlene Silveira said the small pay increase was spurred by the financial unknowns for the 2015-16 school year, which is subject to a new biennial state budget.

“We believe we have great staff and the .25 percent wage increase is really not reflective of the value we put on our employees … Until we have a better feel for where we will be financially, it’s hard to offer more now,” Silveira said.

Recent studies have shown that Act 10 drastically changed the teaching profession since being enacted.  It is creating a difficult scenario for administrators who are no longer sure which teachers will be coming back each year.  Much like the corporate world, teachers are now free agents who can shop their services around Wisconsin or leave the state entirely. Unfortunately, this wild west market and the end of collective bargaining have depressed wages in addition to creating a volatile, unpredicatable environment for students and parents.

Teachers are resigning at an alarming rate, according to the Appleton Post-Crescent:

In the three years since the change, Fox Cities educators are resigning from their jobs at higher rates than in the years leading up to the law.

A Post-Crescent Media analysis found that 145 teachers and administrators resigned from Fox Cities schools in 2012-13, an increase of 41 (or 39 percent) from the previous year. That number has nearly doubled since the 2010-11 school year, just before the law took effect.

Speaking to the Post-Crescent, retired guidance counselor David Sebora said that the benefits that came with teaching in the pre-Act 10 era incentivized staying put. The new system is not built for the long-term and causes a ruthless bidding war type of approach, he explains:

I’ve seen faces come and go … and some of the best educators have chosen to leave,” he said. “I think what Act 10 has done is opened up the marketplace … Without union contracts, some districts can open up the checkbook and outbid people for services.”

Walker’s Democratic challenger in the governor’s race, Mary Burke, is a member of the Madison School Board.  During last weekend’s state Democratic convention, Burke called for a “new direction” with respect to Act 10:

Scott Walker’s approach puts those at the top and the special interests ahead of families. That approach isn’t working,” Burke said. “I’ll sit down and work with anyone — Democrat, Republican, or Independent.”  

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