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WEAC members vote to explore merger between WEAC and AFT-Wisconsin

Posted: 12/1/2012 10:24:06 PM

Elected representatives to WEAC's Representative Assembly on Saturday took their union toward a new direction by voting that the organization enter into formal talks with American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin to explore possible merger. 

"For more than 20 years this organization has had a relationship with American Federation of Teachers. The majority of AFT-Wisconsin members are education professionals, and we have much in common," said WEAC President Mary Bell, a Wisconsin Rapids teacher.

Among the 1,000 educator-members, many said there are benefits to merging both Wisconsin chapters of the national unions, but the most important reason is to strengthen and unify the voices of public education advocates. Other benefits discussed included having additional resources at the federal level. 

Kenosha teacher Michael Orth said, "It's about building local union power. That’s what we need to do." 

"It's become crucial for us to have a unified union front," Randolph teacher Jennifer Giedd said. "The time is now."

"It's more useful to us to work together," Bell said. "It's important to stand shoulder-to-shoulder moving forward. We’ve had a relationship with AFT for decades, and that relationship has solidified over the past two years."

A standing committee of WEAC and AFT-Wisconsin members recommended the exploration, and AFT-Wisconsin has already approved participation.

After exploration, should the members of both organizations move ahead with merger, the soonest a merger could be accomplished would be the fall of 2014. There are four other merged state affiliates (and another pending) in the United States.

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