UW-RF faculty vote to unionize
On Thursday, March 24, faculty at the UW-River Falls voted 148-16 out of a unit of 222 in favor of union representation through AFT-Wisconsin, a statewide labor federation affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The faculty vote tallied two days of voting on campus.
The UW-RF vote occurred as state courts review the constitutionality of the governor's "budget repair" bill that would eliminate academic staff and faculty's right to collectively bargain, and a budget bill that would drastically cut funding to the UW System.
"What we've seen at UW-River Falls today is an extension of what we've seen across our state since Walker announced his disastrous bill," stated Wes Chapin, a professor of political science and chair of his department.
"Our state is at a crossroads. Wisconsin has a long and proud history of fairness, integrity and progressivism. The labor movement has been, and will continue to be, central to that history. Today, UW-River Falls faculty made a stand in preserving that history, and moving Wisconsin forward."
According to Chapin, Gov. Walker's budget repair bill further galvanized the UW-RF's faculty's resolve to form a union.
"When it became clear that the governor's extremist legislation had nothing to do with balancing the budget and everything to do with denying workers' rights, UW-River Falls faculty realized the urgency in this vote. Together, we stood up, took notice, and turned out to vote."
Chapin indicated that the UW-River Falls faculty union had no intention of backing down in the face of anti-collective bargaining legislation.
According to Chapin, "Our strength cannot be legislated away. Our strength is, and always has been, our collective voice - a voice that is stronger than ever."
UW faculty and academic staff were extended the right to collectively bargain in June of 2009.
Since then faculty at four campuses - UW-Eau Claire, UW-Superior, UW-La Crosse, and UW-Stout - have voted in favor of collective bargaining representation.