Irony: Union of union staffers calls out Wisconsin teachers' union as a poor employer

As an employer, the Wisconsin Education Association Council would like a little latitude to lay off and hire according to what makes sense rather than according to arbitrary union rules. But the National Support Organization, the nation’s largest union of union staffers, won’t have that. When WEAC posted a job listing for the position of executive director of the Racine Education Uniserv Council, NSO responded with an online posting of its own.

“Don’t apply for WEAC vacancies!” NSO warned its members. Why? Because WEAC laid off some 42 employees earlier this year to make up for projected losses in revenue caused by Gov. Scott Walker’s “union-busting” (a.k.a. budget repair) bill. NSO says that, by looking outside the state — rather than to those 42 former employees — to fill a job opening, WEAC is guilty of breaching its contract with the United Staff Union.

NSO president Chuck Agerstrand said he is calling on his thousands of members to avoid applying for any WEAC jobs “until our colleagues have their position restored.”

“WEAC staff played an important role in the rallies and protests against the governor’s anti-union legislation and in keeping WEAC a viable organization. And this is how they’re rewarded for their efforts?” Agerstrand said. “It’s unconscionable that WEAC is going outside the state to fill jobs when they (have) 42 NSO members out of work.”

But others don’t take the issue quite so seriously and even manage to see the irony. Not surprisingly, those “others” are Republicans who watched WEAC attack Gov. Walker earlier this year for attempting to free up local and municipal governments to save money by limiting collective bargaining with local teachers’ unions.

Republicans said they found it rich with irony that one of the chief critics of Walker’s collective bargaining bill apparently feels hamstrung by its own employee contracts.

“Ah, that’s funny,” said state Rep. Robin Vos, a Rochester Republican who is co-chairman of the Joint Finance Committee. “Perhaps it’s a case of ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ ”

Walker’s legislation not only limits collective bargaining but also clips the power of public employee unions. The measure requires local unions to hold annual recertification votes, prohibits employers from automatically deducting union dues from a public worker’s payroll and allows bargaining-unit members to opt out of paying union dues altogether.

Lawmakers pushed through the changes amid massive protests and recall elections for nine state senators.