Teachers Union Calls for Renewed Bargaining

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The court ruling that struck down most of Wisconsin’s new collective bargaining law for school and local government workers had the teachers union that filed the lawsuit calling for a return to the bargaining table. Other groups were proceeding with caution.

Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews said he would send a letter to the Madison School District asking them to begin new collective bargaining contract negotiations in light of the union’s court victory Friday. “This simply restores the ability to talk mutually and decide what is best for the employees of the school district.”

Matthews said the union would also tell the district to halt the development of one of the employee handbooks mandated by the new collective bargaining law. Matthews said the teachers union had always handled those issues and this ruling meant it still would. “Things are a mandatory subject of bargaining are the exclusive jurisdiction of the union.”

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Others were taking more of a wait-and-see approach. The Wisconsin Association of School Boards’ Barry Forbes said the court decision was complicated. “It creates a bunch of uncertainty and, you know, I suppose in one way we could say school boards are getting used to that.”

Forbes said that while the ruling struck down much of the law known as Act 10, it actually preserved pieces that school boards like, including the way it handles contract disputes when there’s a stalemate. Further complicating the picture, Forbes says, are questions about what happens next in the legal battle. “Right now, I’m not certain what the best way to proceed is, and that also causes me to advise caution.”

The State Department of Justice said it would ask for a stay of the ruling that would effectively put it on hold while the appeal proceeds.

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