The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has a fascinating interview with Wisconsin Education Association Council president Mary Bell and executive director Dan Burkhalter, in which they admit having lost 20,000 members since the passage of Act 10. Citizens of the Badger State will be surprised to learn that WEAC members have such generous fringe benefits because of… Tommy Thompson! Why didn’t they ever thank him?
Since the collective bargaining measure was enacted last year, WEAC’s membership has dropped from around 90,000 to 70,000, but the remaining membership became energized by the recall. Union leaders are hopeful that passion will continue as the union rallies around issues such as public school funding. The union is working on membership drives this summer.
“I think we will be smaller but stronger,” Bell said.
Burkhalter estimated 25% to 30% of WEAC members voted for Walker in 2010 while on Tuesday about 5% voted for the governor.
“He really united our membership,” said Burkhalter.
Bell said Walker prevailed in the recall partly because many voters don’t like recall elections and some believed recalls should only be used in cases of malfeasance. She admitted public employees were easy targets for the governor and Republican lawmakers because of generous pensions and benefits, which Bell noted were mostly a result of former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson’s qualified economic offer law that gave better benefits in return for salary concessions to public school employees several years ago.