In 2009, the Wisconsin Education Association Council had more than 100,000 members. In 2011, Gov. Scott Walker signed Act 10 into law, severely restricting collective bargaining for teachers, eliminating agency fees, and requiring local unions to hold recertification votes annually.
In a March 12, 2011 story headlined “‘This is the Beginning’ – Wisconsin Workers Still Galvanized,” NEA Today stated:
By signing his notorious budget repair bill into law on Friday, Gov. Scott Walker may have won a battle, but his political standing has taken a beating from which he most likely will not recover. Furthermore, the bill’s passage has done nothing to dampen the political activity that has engulfed Wisconsin over the past five weeks and in fact has united his opposition and even strengthened the hand of labor and working families everywhere.
…“Phase two” will be fought on two fronts: legal action and recall elections. Multiple complaints have already been filed charging that the vote taken by the Senate on Wednesday night violated the law and state-and-national groups have started major petition drives to force recall elections against the GOP senators who approved it.
Four years later, the legal actions have failed, the recall elections changed nothing, and Scott Walker is running for President of the United States.
In June 2012, it didn’t require a crystal ball to write, “Now that the recalls are over, we’re likely to see a WEAC in a few years that’s no better than half what it was at its peak.”
That day is here. WEAC’s 2015 membership numbers show an organization with fewer than 50,000 total members, and fewer than 40,000 who are currently employed in Wisconsin’s public school system. The downward spiral is so pronounced the union cut dues by $60, but it does not seem to have reversed its fortunes.
Despite the rosy picture NEA attempted to paint earlier this month, the union still faces enormous membership problems, with only a handful of state affiliates slowly returning to health. I will have the full story in today’s communiqué.