Hilarity ensued in Wisconsin last week when the Kenosha Education Association informed everyone that union dues and agency fees would be deducted from teachers’ paychecks beginning February 19. The union made the announcement after the school board ratified a new contract.
The union’s reasoning was that because the contract’s terms are retroactive to July 1, 2013, all district employees who were KEA members then, are KEA members now.
Alas, not everyone shared that interpretation. “We don’t want to mess with anyone’s paycheck and deduct dues unless we have a court order saying we have to do so,” the district’s director of business services told the Kenosha News. The district will not deduct any union payments from anyone’s paycheck without express written permission from individuals. Currently, only 62 teachers have signed up for paycheck deduction of dues. There are about 1,500 teachers in the district.
“I don’t know by what authority they say they are not going to do it when the contract was ratified and the contract says to do it,” said KEA executive director Joe Kiriaki.
Complicating the issue are lawsuits involving Act 10 and the fact that KEA was decertified as the exclusive bargaining representative last September 1.
KEA also announced a 20 percent reduction in local dues for this year. That is welcome news for those hanging on to their membership, but the discount could be short-lived. The proposed merger between the Wisconsin Education Association Council and AFT-Wisconsin resets dues for the two-year transition period, then leaves it up to an internal committee to generate a new dues structure thereafter.
This year, KEA members will pay $848.05 – $358.05 to KEA, $308 to WEAC, and $182 to NEA. If the merger is approved and assuming no change in local dues, the 2014-15 dues will be $861.05 – $358.05 to KEA, $288 to WEAC, and $215 to NEA, AFT and the AFL-CIO.