Faculty at another University of Wisconsin campus have voted to be represented by AFT-Wisconsin, becoming the fifth group to do so since Gov. Scott Walker began his attacks on public employee collective bargaining rights in February. On May 13, faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay voted 117-2, out of a unit of 167, in favor of union representation.
Although Walker's "budget repair" bill now is being challenged in court, Republican lawmakers have indicated that they intend to include its anti-collective bargaining provisions in the state budget—which already calls for drastic funding cuts to the University of Wisconsin system.
David Voelker, an associate professor of humanistic studies and chair of the UW-Green Bay history program, says forming a faculty union is about preserving the integrity of higher education. "UW-Green Bay is now the seventh campus in the UW system whose faculty have voted 'yes' for a union," Voelker says. "Soon, UWGB faculty will have the ability to take collective action to protect and promote quality public higher education in Wisconsin."
Aeron Haynie, an associate professor of English and humanities, believes that the faculty vote ties in to the burgeoning labor movement in Wisconsin—a movement that has seen incredible momentum since the announcement of Walker's anti-union bill in February. "I'm proud to vote for a faculty union at UWGB," Haynie says. "As we have seen this past year in Wisconsin, it is vital that working people join together and fight for our rights—our right to make decisions which affect the quality of education here in our state, and our right to decent benefits. Working together, as a union, makes our voices stronger."
University of Wisconsin faculty and academic staff were extended the right to collectively bargain in June 2009. Since then, faculty at six other campuses—UW-Eau Claire, UW-Superior, UW-La Crosse, UW-Stout, UW-River Falls and UW-Stevens Point—have voted in favor of collective bargaining representation. UW-Superior academic staff will vote on union representation next week. [AFT-Wisconsin]
May 13, 2011