Higher-Ed Union United Faculty of Florida in Wisconsin to Help Unseat Gov. Scott Walker
The president of a Florida higher education faculty union is busy in Wisconsin as we speak, helping the Democrats and other national advocacy groups for education drum Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker out of office in a June recall election.
"What is happening in that state is of national significance," says United Faculty of Florida president Tom Auxter, a professor of philosophy at the University of Florida. The recall election, he says, will help determine what politicians "can get away with" in dealing with faculty unions.
United Faculty of Florida, which represents faculty members at Florida public colleges, has dispatched two of its organizers to Wisconsin.
The National Education and the American Federation of Teachers are the ones leading the charge among national advocacy groups, having deployed vast resources to try to influence the election, which pits Walker against Tom Barrett, a Democrat who is Milwaukee's mayor. The groups see the election's outcome as a likely harbinger of how voting will go in the fall.
A story in the Chronicle of Higher Education claims voters in several states may also be deciding referenda this fall that would affect faculty unions. Those include a proposed amendment to Michigan's Constitution that would nullify a state law denying graduate students at public universities the right to unionize, a California measure that would increase taxes to avoid further cuts to the state's public colleges, and a separate proposal in California that would limit how unions raise money for political contributions.
For now, the unions' focus is on Wisconsin. The Wisconsin AFT is operating 12 of the recall campaign's 20 offices around the state, with academic labor unions in other states like Florida joining in.