More gray area for contract negotiations

There are still more questions over Act 10 and what it means for Wisconsin school districts and teachers.

When the controversial measure was passed, it limited contract negotiations for most public employees to just wages. A recent court ruling that struck down some of the measures in Act 10, however, has once again created more gray area for both sides.

Union leaders believe a court ruling in Dane County has opened up the process to more than just wages.

“The ability to bargain other things aside from just wages is available,” said Steve Glandt, executive director of Coulee Region United Educators.

“Many of the (union)¬†associations are taking a look at what other kinds of things would they want to talk about with the districts,” he added.

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Glandt says that could include things like class size and senority, items that were outlawed in Act 10.

Attorneys representing school districts have interpreted the ruling to only have an impact in the county where it was filed.

“I think most districts outside of Dane County would concur that it does not have an impact as this is a (court) stay that is only applicable to the Madison teachers union,” said Steve Salerno, an associate superintendent for the La Crosse School Disrict.

The district’s current contract ends on June 30. State law now requires them to be re-negotiated each year.

Many people expect Act 10 to eventually go before the State Supreme Court for a ruling on what measures are constitutional.

Teachers in La Crosse are bracing for another change this year. They can expect to pay more out of pocket for their health insurance. The district is switching plans this year to save nearly $700,000.