The economic downturn in 2008 saw many states cutting education budgets. But while the economy has recovered most of those states haven't restored necessary funding. Teachers are fed up and ask: What about the children?

We also have some members facing tough contract negotiations at the moment and good news about our new, stronger Local.
Reminder: Nominations for Steward positions at CUNA Mutual needed this week
A Steward's term at CUNA Mutual Group is for three years and there are a total of nine positions to be filled, including that of Chief Steward. Interested?

Now is the time for YOU to get involved! While many of the current Stewards will no doubt want to continue in the role, due to promotions, retirements, and relocations there are open Steward positions that need you! We need people from across the company, in every department. If you want to work to ensure a long career with the company or maybe you're nearing retirement and want to leave things better than they've been, or you feel that the next contract needs some tough negotiating, we encourage any and all of you to step forward. If you want to make the company -- and the union -- a better place to be, now is your chance.

Please send inquiries or questions to Debi Eveland at develand@opeiu39.org by the end of this week (May 18th).
It started in West Virginia
Teachers lead labor actions in five states
"I'm not walking out on your children, the state did that a decade ago." Those words are from fourth grade teacher Brenda Lopez, according to CNN (video will play at link), but it appears to be a sentiment shared by teachers across five different states. Late April saw walkouts, marches, and work actions in Arizona and Colorado, organized protests in Oklahoma and Kentucky, and the strike that started it all in West Virginia in early March. Teachers have been making news by showing how years of neglect have left classrooms poorly equipped and under-paid teachers doing every thing they can to make up the gap. This CNN video (video will play at link) shows "vermin-filled classrooms and tattered textbooks, improvised air conditioners and globes showing a Soviet Union and two Germanys."

These workers really just want to do a good job teaching the nation's schoolchildren. "Why would you not want to provide our kids with the best possible education?" Cindi Morton is quoted in that video. "We do our best here. I need my leaders, my government to do the same," she says.

The reactions from leaders in the states where teachers have been mobilizing range from dismissive to threatening. According to TheRealNews.com " Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin compared them to a teenager who wants a new car" while in Kentucky, Governor Matt Bevin made the astonishing claim: "I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them." The Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction threatened to censure or revoke teaching certificates for teachers who "strike." (CNN, above)

But the need is real and anything but frivolous. Teacher's pay has never been excessive and today, thanks to fiscal priorities that put funding religious school vouchers and private charter schools along with cutting taxes on oil and gas ahead of public education, the current rate of pay is exceedingly low. According to the Economic Policy Institute:

Not surprisingly, striking teachers live in states with some of the largest pay gaps. In Arizona, teachers earn just 63 cents on the dollar compared with other college graduates. That gap is 79 cents in Kentucky, 67 cents in Oklahoma, and 75 cents in West Virginia. These gaps amount to vast differences in earning over a career. It is not surprising that there are teacher shortages across the United States as college students, especially women, choose other professions. In 18 states, public school teacher weekly wages lag by more than 25 percent. There is no state where teacher wages are equal to or better than those of other college graduates.

After Republicans took over every branch of government in 2010 here in Wisconsin, they rammed through Act 10 and, as a result, teachers here saw a sharp drop in pay and benefits. The Center for American Progress found in a report that, among other things: " in the 2015-2016 school year, Wisconsin teachers’ median combined salaries and benefits were $10,843 lower than they were before Act 10 passed" and "the Wisconsin teaching force is less experienced now than before Act 10 was passed."

Our Republican-controlled state government also forced through so-called "right to work" legislation, putting us on the same track and footing as Arizona, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. In those other states we're seeing significant labor actions supported by Unions where available but with workers going without when they have to. Will we see the same sort of actions here? Should we? Would you support teachers in Wisconsin doing everything they can to ensure that your child gets the best possible education in a facility that is up to code and has current textbooks?

There have been posts on our private Facebook page about this issue. Come on over to discuss.
It's Official!
The decision to merge Local 39 and 95 had already been voted on and approved by membership of both locals. Now that decision has been approved by OPEIU International.

Congratulations to all of us! The new Local 39 will be stronger, representing more people, more areas of the state, and more kinds of industry. That's great news for all of us.
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Contract Negotiations - MG&E in Madison WI
These negotiations have been hard for members. The company is proposing one of the lowest wage packages in decades combined with increases in health care, despite the fact that the company has a $20,000,000 surplus and isn't claiming any financial hardship Their dismal economic package flies in the face of the reality of low unemployment, rising wages, and a growing economy.

The solidarity of members to fight against such proposals has been impressive considering the pressure management is trying to wield. 
Contract Negotiations - Catalyst Paper in Biron WI
Negotiations began a couple of weeks ago. This is the first contract negotiated by this unit since the split of the paper mills several years ago. Members interests lie in an economic package that keeps up with the pace of inflation plus many language changes that modernizes the current contract.
PS - Membership Meeting
this week
The Union succeeds through everyone's efforts. Please join us at the Union Offices THIS Wednesday, May 16th at 5:30PM.
Are you coming to the Membership meeting?
LOCATION
Union Offices, 701 Watson Ave, Madison WI 53713

DATE AND TIME
05/16/18 5:30pm - 05/16/18 6:30pm

Spring Membership Meeting
I'll be there!
Maybe
I can't make it
Unions = Gym Membership
Upcoming Membership Meetings
Membership meetings are held the third Wednesday of the second month of the quarter, at 5:30PM at the Union Office.

May 16, 2018
August 15, 2018
November 21, 2018
February 20, 2019

This is your Union. Your participation gives us the strength to face the continued opposition of both politicians and companies.
Know Your Weingarten Rights!
The US Supreme Court has ruled that the National Labor Relations Act gives workers the right to request union representation during investigatory interviews by supervisors, security personal, and other managerial staff. These are called Weingarten Rights.

An investigatory interview occurs if 1) management questions you to obtain information; and 2) you have reasonable apprehension that your answers could be used as a basis for discipline or other adverse action.

You must ask for union representation either before or during an investigatory interview. Management does not have to remind you of this right. If your request is refused and Management continues asking questions, you may refuse to answer. Your employer is guilty of an unfair labor practice and charges may be filed. If you are questioned in a situation where Weingarten may apply, read or present this statement:

"If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative, officer, or steward be present at this meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion."
If you have any news you would like to share with other Members, please let us know! You can contact us via email or our Facebook page.