Milwaukee, Madison teachers unions demand state pivot every school online

MADISON, Wis. – Teachers unions from Milwaukee and Madison, as well as Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine, are demanding DHS Secretary designee Andrea Palm close schools to in-person learning.

Union leaders held a press conference outside the DHS building in Madison Wednesday afternoon. They say they’re demanding Palm end in-person learning at all k-12 schools, both public and private, as well as colleges and universities in the state.

“Gathering in large groups in poorly ventilated spaces, the governor has asked us not to do that,” said Amy Mizialko, President of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Educators Assocation. “Please understand that going to school is gathering in large groups in a poorly ventilated space.”

Mizialko says the union wants schools to end in-person learning until Wisconsin has three consecutive weeks of decreasing COVID-19 cases and shows a significant drop in community spread.

“We cannot rely on individuals to make good decisions in a pandemic,” she said. “It requires a systemic response. This is why we have governments, pay taxes and have elections.”

On Wednesday, Wisconsin DHS debuted a new dashboard showing new COVID cases amongst school-age children, which shows more than 500 cases in the last two weeks are linked to kids under the age of 18.

“Wisconsin cases are out of control with exponential growth,” said Andy Waite, President of Madison Teachers Inc. “We’ve seen unprecedented numbers over the last few weeks that continue to trend upwards.”

The two unions say they’re acting in support of a National Day of Action amongst unions around the country, and say other unions throughout the United States have threatened to strike should they not have demands met.

Both Milwaukee and Madison unions would not say whether there would be a labor stoppage should Palm not meet their demands, but said the secretary designee has until the end of the week to act.