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Local union head: We will push to restore benefits

In the wake of a ruling last week that struck down Act 10, local school districts plan to wait and see what the decision will mean for them. In the meantime, teachers unions gear up to restart negotiations to reinstate benefits lost since the implementation of Act 10.

Bargaining units representing teachers in the area plan to immediately begin their push to reinstate benefits lost since the implementation of Act 10.

Steven Cupery of Lakewood Uniserv Council, which represents teachers from the Oconomowoc and Kettle Moraine school districts, said he'll begin pushing school districts to the bargaining table as soon as this week.

"We'll certainly be making the demand and request to districts that they now sit down and negotiate a full range of contractual issues with their employees through their newly elected representatives, just as police and fire continue to have those same rights," he said. "We think teachers should have them as well. We'll be asking that they sit down and negotiate any changes in the agreement we had at the time Act 10 went into effect. They can expect to see us proposing our past agreements and then any changes to them, we would ask, be negotiated."

Cupery said Colas's decision reinforced what the unions have been saying all along: "…that the governor can't pick and choose who has collective-bargaining rights based upon whether or not they endorsed him for governor, which is essentially what Act 10 did."

The union leader said he was confident that the Dane County Circuit Court decision would be upheld because he believes it is not constitutional to allow other unions, such as those representing police and firefighters, to have rights, while other unions do not.

"We think that's a violation of the Constitution," Cupery remarked. "It's a terrible precedent and an abuse of power. You can't be punishing people and taking away their rights to collective negotiations simply because they didn't back you in the gubernatorial election or don't back your party in general."

School districts, meanwhile, seem to be standing pat and continuing on the provisions of Act 10 until they are told to do otherwise.

Read the full story in tomorrow's Lake Country Reporter.

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