Despite Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's threat and the recent state Senate vote to strip faculty and staff of their collective bargaining rights, the union is growing stronger. Here's proof: Faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Stout this week voted overwhelmingly in favor of union representation through AFT-Wisconsin.
The March 9 vote was 196 in favor, 31 against, in a unit of 283.
Rather than discourage them, Walker's threats galvanized faculty eager to raise their voices in protest, says Barb Flom, an associate professor of education. "When it became clear that the governor's extremist legislation had nothing to do with balancing the budget and everything to do with denying workers' rights, UW-Stout faculty realized the urgency in this vote," she says. "Together, we stood up, took notice, and turned out to vote."
The decision is an extension of union support across the state, she adds. "Our state is at a crossroads. The vast majority of Wisconsinites have made it known that they want to preserve our state's rich tradition and move forward, not backward. Today, UW-Stout faculty stood united and echoed that message by saying, 'We deserve a voice in the workplace.' "
Their spirit has been buoyed by overwhelming support for the union at ongoing rallies and continued demonstrations of resistance in the state capitol and elsewhere across Wisconsin. The crowds are further inspired to continue the fight since Walker's recent budget proposal includes drastic cuts in funding for higher education.
UW faculty and academic staff were extended the right to collectively bargain in June of 2009. Since that time, faculty at three campuses—UW-Eau Claire, UW-Superior, and UW-La Crosse—have voted in favor of collective bargaining representation. [Virginia Myers, AFT-Wisconsin]
March 10, 2011