The layoffs, furloughs and higher teaching loads announced today by administration at UW – Oshkosh represent a shameful failure of our state to provide educational resources in line with what our students need and what our state needs. When we have billions of dollars in surplus and our university system receives a cut in funding to advance the ideological agenda of far-right Republicans in the legislature, that’s a political decision to strip away the resources working people across Wisconsin need to ensure they can meet their goals through higher education. We fear that other campuses will wrongly choose to solve this funding problem with further layoffs, and our members will organize to prevent that from happening.
Summer is upon us, and parents, children and teachers are winding down from what has been an exhausting and fully operational school year—the first since the devastating pandemic. The long-lasting impact of COVID-19 has affected our students’ and families’ well-being and ignited the politics surrounding public schools. All signs point to the coming school year unfolding with the same sound and fury, and if extremist culture warriors have their way, being even more divisive and stressful.
In AFT President Randi Weingarten’s latest New York Times column, she describes what it is exactly that unions do. Though unions are the most popular they have been in decades, anti-union sentiment still thrives in red states and across the nation. “Several years ago, The Atlantic ran a story whose headline made even me, a labor leader, scratch my head: ‘Union Membership: Very Sexy,’” Weingarten writes in the column. “The gist was that higher wages, health benefits and job security—all associated with union membership—boost one’s chances of getting married. Belonging to a union doesn’t actually guarantee happily ever after, but it does help working people have a better life in the here and now.” Click through to read the full column.
AFT-W VP of Higher Education Jon Shelton has sent a letter to Reps. David Murphy and Dianne Hesselbein opposing A.B. 413. The October 7, 2021 letter reads in part: "this bill would not only do the opposite of what it proposes to do—prevent stereotyping based on race and gender—but it would also threaten the promise of academic freedom and the pursuit of truth that has made our system of public higher education one of the best in the nation." Reps. Murphy and Hesselbein are respectively the chair and ranking delegate of the Assembly's Committee on Colleges and Universities.
In a September 17, 2021 letter to the Assembly Education Committee, AFT-Wisconsin President Kim Kohlhaas testified against Assembly Bill 562. "The bill would encourage parents to opt their children out of gender identity and sexual orientation programs in our public schools," she argued. "Any legislation that discourages open conversation and the inclusion and well-being of all students is dangerous."
UWGB-United hosted their first Back to School event for faculty and staff, where new hires could ask candid questions they may have been hesitant to raise at the official university orientation. Members shared their knowledge regarding having tough conversations in the classroom, why they are a proud union member, and much more!