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ERIC Number: EJ918245
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar-9
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0277-4232
Labor-Curb Plan Eyed Warily
Cavanagh, Sean
Education Week, v30 n23 p1, 20-21 Mar 2011
Massive protests have been the norm in Wisconsin, since Gov. Scott Walker unveiled a plan to strip many collective bargaining rights from teachers and most other public employees. GOP elected officials are pursuing similar measures in Ohio and other states. But in the DeForest district, like some others around the state, collective bargaining, while often difficult, has produced agreements that generally satisfied both sides. Gov. Walker's plan would upend existing relationships, a number of superintendents and local teachers' union leaders say, and create the potential for more division. It would give district leaders far more power to determine everything from teachers' health-care coverage to school assignments and class sizes--matters that would fall outside the scope of collective bargaining. The furor over the governor's plan has left administrators, as well as teachers and parents, with an unfamiliar and still-evolving challenge: how to work through the upheaval and go about the business of educating students--while trying to hold their school communities together. Officials in the 3,250-student district and members of the teachers' union, an affiliate of the 98,000-member Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) and the National Education Association, use an approach known as consensus bargaining in their contract negotiations. They begin by laying out broad principles and gradually moving into contract specifics. Votes on various provisions are taken by hand, with participants signaling thumbs up, thumbs down, or thumbs sideways. A single thumbs-down was sufficient to nix a provision, so participants work to reach an accord in which all parties have at least a neutral, or sideways, position. Under the governor's plan, health-insurance decisions at the local level would no longer be subject to bargaining, meaning district officials could set health-coverage policy on their own. Gov. Walker argues that requiring teachers to pay for pensions--most chip in nothing now--and restricting collective bargaining on health care and other issues will help districts save more than enough money to offset $834 million in reductions in state aid to schools over the coming two years. A higher number of the DeForest district's 258 teachers than usual have indicated that they plan to retire after this year, citing concerns about either losing or having to pay more for retirement benefits, because of shrinking local budgets and potential reductions created by the governor's proposal.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Wisconsin