BREAKING: Teachers File Suit Against Kenosha Unified School Board FeaturedWritten by Ed Willing
In the wake of recent collective bargaining agreements approved by the Kenosha Unified School Board, some current and former teachers in the district are fighting back. A local group called Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit against the district today, on their behalf. According to their press release the lawsuit was also joined by the National Right to Work Foundation.
On Friday, November 15 the Kenosha School Board held a last-minute emergency session to discuss a previously-delayed vote on collective bargaining agreements with the districts three largest public unions. The board president, Rebecca Stevens contended that because of the stay issued earlier this year by Dane County District Judge Juan Colas, the actions were legal. Colas' ruling, however, was regarding a lawsuit addressing the legality of union certification votes. WILL issued a letter to the board before the vote, insisting that Colas' ruling did not extend beyond Dane County and the parties involved. The issue is waiting to be heard before the State Supreme Court.
In response to the board's actions, Rick Esenberg, WILL President said: “As we have said time and time again, until a higher court decides otherwise, Act 10 is the law of the land. Like all other state laws, it must be followed. Judge Colas’ decision in Dane County is not binding on our clients, the thousands of public employees in Kenosha, or the Kenosha School Board.”
WisconsinFree first broke the story of the contentious meeting marked with confusion, out of order discussion, and loud bickering between members of the board. The Board president, despite over 250 residents in attendance, did not allow for public comment; they subsequently voted 4-3 to approve one year extensions of both collective bargaining agreements they previously had with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the Kenosha Education Association (KEA).
In their press release today, WILL stated their reason for filing the lawsuit:
The labor agreement was the product of Board members illegally bargaining with the Kenosha Education Association (KEA). Explains CJ Szafir, Education Policy Director, “It is a shame that despite being warned by its own legal counsel, and by WILL, that collectively bargaining with the KEA was illegal and would lead to costly litigation, four members of the Board chose to ignore those warnings and approve an agreement that completely disregards Act 10.”
Today's lawsuit is the next step in several legal threats made by WILL and others on behalf of local residents concerned with what they view is a violation of state law. Act 10 made illegal the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements beyond wages for any government body with a local union. The Act has been the subject of several lawsuits making their way through Wisconsin and federal courts as unions seek to retain protections they once had.
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Ed Willing helped launch WisconsinFree.com and served as it's first Editor-in-Chief. He is also the author of the book "Part Time Nation." As a small business owner and manager of several blogs he has experience with local reporting, policy research and budget matters. He was a co-founder and editor of Founders Intent and has also worked as a consultant and trainer for political campaigns and Fortune 500 companies. His primary interests are in Constitutional Law and economics, having the opportunity to conduct public speaking seminars for activists and business professionals.