Below is a rather interesting press release from WEAC, the Wisconsin Education Association Council.
Southeast United Educators has filed an open records request to gain further information about what appears to be a lack of integrity in the elections to recertify unions under the Walker administration. Workers saw a rushed election process, jammed phone lines, rejected voters, and deceased voters still in the system.
Big Problems with Act 10 Recertification Elections
Teacher Association Calls for Full Disclosure and Further Investigation
Following an extended legal battle, questionable timing and myriad voting problems, Wisconsin teachers and educational support employees affected by the Act 10 recertification requirement are raising further questions about the fairness and validity of the state imposed elections. Today, Southeast United Educators, which represents approximately 8,000 public educators in the Milwaukee area, filed an official open records request for all Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) communications regarding the scheduling of the recertification elections and the full extent of the errors in the conduct of the elections.
The open records request follows the recently received official notification of election results. The WERC is the state agency that administers the Act 10 recertification requirement. The recertification elections for local associations representing school district employees were completed in December. Statewide, approximately 408 local associations sought to recertify.
The recertification elections were plagued with problems throughout the process. Those who did not vote or could not vote or whose vote did not register, were counted as “no” votes against their local associations. The full extent of the problems is still not known. These included:
* Timing – Despite claiming in October that the elections could not take place if they did not begin by November 11, the WERC began the elections on November 29, the day after Thanksgiving. The process was clearly rushed and took place during the holiday season, an extremely difficult time of year for most local associations to succeed.
* Jammed Phone Lines – Teacher representatives received hundreds of reports that people who attempted to vote encountered busy signals. Many reports detailed multiple attempts to call in over periods of hours. We have no way of knowing how many votes were deterred and lost.
* Voter Rejection – Many dozens of voters reported that when they attempted to vote, they were told their identifying information was incorrect. Almost all reported problems were eventually corrected, but we have no way of knowing how many people were deterred from voting as a result.
* Incorrect Employers – Many dozens of voters reported calling in to vote and being told that they were voting in an election for an association other than their own. When identified, these problems appear to have been corrected, but we still don’t know how many voters were incorrectly tabulated for the wrong local association.
* Deceased Voters – On several occasions, local associations learned of allegedly eligible voters who no longer worked for a school district, were supervisors and not eligible to vote or even had passed away. Since all eligible voters who don’t vote are counted as “no” votes, this is a potentially significant problem.
The questionable implementation of the Act 10 recertification requirement casts further doubt on the state imposed process which opponents have characterized as a power play that serves no legitimate public purpose. Some of the issues with the recertification process are:
* Teacher associations and other public employee groups are forced to achieve 51% support of all ELIGIBLE voters, not a simple majority of votes. Private sector workers, and municipal police and firefighter employees, need only a majority of those voting to prevail in union elections. No other local, state or federal elections for public office are held to this standard. Very few of our elected officials have ever achieved such a level of support from voters, including the Governor.
* Only certain unions, like teachers and state employees, have to seek recertification each year – not police or firefighters. Since these organizations endorsed the governor, this raises questions about whether the requirement is targeted at political opponents – a shocking abuse of power where government policy is enacted to punish one’s political adversaries.
* The recertification requirement appears to be discriminatory in its targeting. Approximately 76% of all Wisconsin teachers are women. Approximately 2% of firefighters are women and 19% of police are women.
* Recertification elections each and every year are extremely time consuming and prevent local associations from doing other work on behalf of their members.
* The mandate that local associations have to pay for the administration of these yearly elections has been compared to a poll tax. Statewide, the recently completed recertification elections cost teachers and other school district employees an estimated $115,350.
Had public school employees used the same voting methods which are applied to police, firefighters and private sector employees, they would have won 98% of all elections statewide and 100% of all teacher elections.
Many of the teachers targeted by the Act 10 requirement have expressed suspicions about the timing and implementation of the elections. With its Open Records Request, Southeast United Educators hopes to learn more about origin and extent of the problems.