I’m writing to let you know about an important development in the proposed merger of AFT-Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC). As you know, a vote on merger was originally scheduled to take place in April at both the WEAC and AFT-Wisconsin conventions. Last Saturday, WEAC’s Board of Directors voted to postpone a full merger vote.
One key reason the WEAC Board cited for this difficult decision was member concerns regarding the different dues structures of AFT-Wisconsin and WEAC. Under the original plan for a possible merger, this issue would have been resolved over a two-year trial period once both unions had approved merger. Instead, a special committee will now be put in place with representatives from both organizations. The committee’s job will be addressing how to harmonize our two unions’ different systems into one fair, effective dues structure that ensures all members get the staff and services they need. AFT-Wisconsin will take full part in this committee, which is slated to make its recommendations by the end of 2014. Based on this new timetable, a merger vote then could take place in early 2015.
I want to assure you that AFT-Wisconsin leadership remains committed to this merger process. Everywhere AFT and NEA unions have merged, from Florida to Minnesota, they’ve formed an even stronger union. We need that in Wisconsin right now—for ourselves and for the people we serve. We hold the line for them on quality and access in education and public services. We must speak with one voice.
Many of you have put a lot of time and effort toward a merger vote this April, and I thank you for your commitment. While I had hoped to see the vote this April, I’m not discouraged. We’re looking at a change in the timetable—not in our ultimate goal. WEAC and AFT-Wisconsin are both still dedicated to that goal.
We will be having an AFT-Wisconsin tele-town hall on Tuesday, March 4, at 7:00. It is important that AFT-Wisconsin members have an opportunity to hear from me about the postponement and the plans for AFT-Wisconsin. In addition, members will be able to address their concerns and have your questions answered. Members will receive a robo call on Tuesday evening. I hope that you can participate.
In addition, the AFT-Wisconsin Executive Board has voted to reschedule the AFT-Wisconsin Annual Convention, scheduled for April 26, to November 13-15 as originally planned. Please mark your calendars.
As I travel around the state, I see firsthand that Wisconsin has the best teaching force and public employee force in this nation, in WEAC and AFT-Wisconsin alike. Our working together can only make us stronger. Thank you for being engaged in this merger process, and I hope you’ll continue to be.