MADISON, Wis. -

Wisconsin's prison guards could vote as soon as next year in whether to break away from the Wisconsin State Employees Union.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported it's a bitter fight over election setbacks, discontent with labor leaders, and anger about working conditions a year after the state all but eliminated public sector union rights.

Brian Cunningham, a guard at the Waupun Correctional Institution, said he's filed more than 1,900 signatures demanding a new union for about 5,800 prison workers, game wardens and other state employees classified as security and public safety workers.

WSEU director Marty Beil said the guards are in for a rude awakening if they succeed in forming an independent union with lower dues and a smaller staff, because they would lack sufficient resources to serve members.