Madison teachers union calls on district to talk

District's attorneys examine possible ramifications of court decision
Madison teachers union calls on district to talk

The Madison teachers union that successfully challenged the constitutionality of Gov. Scott Walker’s law taking away their ability to collectively bargain is now asking the school district to negotiate with them.

Madison Teachers, Inc., sent a letter Tuesday to the president of the district’s board of education asking that talks begin in light of last week’s court ruling.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen appealed the ruling Tuesday and asked the judge to put the ruling on hold while the appeal is pending.

The ruling restores the ability of school and local government unions to bargain over working conditions, hours and wage increases greater than inflation.

Madison Superintendent Jane Belmore has said she doesn’t want to take any action given the uncertainties around the ongoing case.

Belmore said the district would not negotiate with the union until attorneys could answer questions about possible ramifications of the court decision.

“We’re still not certain how each one of those things would play out, so we’re looking to get that information,” Belmore said. “And to know, as we move forward, that we’re doing the very best thing for our employees and students.”

Belmore would not give a timeline for a decision whether to pursue bargaining with the union or moving forward on an employee handbook that would replace a union contract in July 2013.

If the district opened up the bargaining process now, and then an appeals court ruled that Act 10 was constitutional all along, the district could be in violation of the current contract. School board members said they are going to be leaning heavily on the advice of lawyers.