Category: Opinion

Opinions and Comments Blog

Apr 27 2012

Only in Walker’s World…

…Could a “Cost-of-living” Increase Equal a Substantial Pay Cut

Chicken Little wasn’t kidding.  While Governor Walker’s Act 10 stripped public employees of the right to bargain over virtually all wages, benefits and working conditions, the remaining “token” item, which unions theoretically had the continuing right to bargain, was the “total base wages”.  Walker’s Act 10, however, limited said increase to no more than the consumer price index (CPI) over the prior 12 months (a higher amount would be subject to referendum).  Now that the Walker-appointed Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) has issued Administrative Rules as to the implementation of Walker’s Act 10 calculation of “base wages, rather than providing a cost-of-living increase for teachers, it COULD ACTUALLY RESULT IN A SUBSTANTIAL DECREASE IN PAY. The following helps explain this apparently ludicrous rule.

For example, a Madison teacher with a Master’s degree is at Track 4, Level 16 (approximately 12 years of experience) of the current salary schedule is paid $54,985 per year.  Assuming a 3% increase in the CPI, this teacher would need a salary increase to $56,635 to maintain the same standard of living.  However, the new WERC rule defines the “base pay” not as the current salary ($54,985), but the salary this teacher would have received without the pay additive recognizing the achievement of additional educational credits (Walker’s Law would calculate this teacher’s CPI increase pay at Track 1 [BA], Level  16, or $51,497).  The WERC’s defined “Base Pay” for this teacher is $3,488 LESS than the teacher’s current pay.  Applying a 3% CPI increase to the Walker’s Law base of $51,497 yields a salary of only $53,042. Therefore, under the WERC’s new rules, this teacher’s “cost-of-living increase” could actually result in a pay cut of $1,943 per year.  Rather than a 3% increase in pay, Walker’s Law could produce a 3.5% decrease in pay. The greater the educational attainment (e.g. PhD at Track 8), the greater the potential cut.  One publicized example from Monticello School District shows a scenario where a teacher there could take a $14,000 pay cut.

The impact of the WERC Administrative Rule is beyond beliefCalculations illustrate that using this means to calculate wage increases for Madison’s teachers will actually produce only about 90% of the revenue to fund the wages now on the salary schedule that’s right!  Chicken Little wasn’t kidding!  This does not necessarily mean that teachers will receive a pay cut after bargaining Walker’s “cost-of-living” increase.  School districts could, and should, continue to provide salary schedules which encourage teachers’ continued education and reward them for same.  Doing so will be to the advantage of each child enrolled in the district.  But, as with all other wages, hours and working conditions under Walker’s Law, such is entirely at the district’s discretionWalker’s Law even makes it a violation of law for school districts to negotiate over wages, other than the increase in the CPI.  Should the employer utilize such discretion, salaries would not have to be cut and increases could occur.  But, it’s a fallacy to think that Walker’s Law allows Unions to truly bargain cost-of-living increases for all of their members. While that may be true for employee groups without compensation plans connected to educational credits, such as MTI’s EA, SEE, SSA and USO units, under Walker’s WERC rules, it is certainly not the case for teachers.


Dec 21 2011

A Compendium of Plays by Wisconsin Teachers

Join fellow MTI members for an Evening of Plays by Wisconsin Teachers

Shows run January 6-28, 2012

MTI Sponsored Nights:

Thursday, January 12 (7:30 PM) and
Friday, January 13 (8:00 PM)

Discounted tickets are available to MTI Members on these nights.
Sign up for these discounted tickets here!

Bartell Theatre, 113 E. Mifflin St., Madison, Wisconsin

If you go on another night, you will pay full price and should get your tickets from the Mercury Players Box Office:
Order tickets
Tickets By phone: 608-661-9696 ext. 5

Sign up for MTI Discount Nights here.

This last winter swept teachers up in political turmoil, and they were subjected to an unprecedented level of attacks. Now, with a recall battle looming, teachers are likely to be caught in the crosshairs again.

Mercury Players Theatre asked teachers to write plays out of their experience of teaching in Wisconsin in 2011. Some of the plays depict life in the classroom, some talk about what it means to them to be a teacher, and many express how the trauma of this year affected them.

Playwrights include elementary, middle school and high school teachers, MATC instructors, TAs, substitute and special ed teachers. Listen to the stories they have to tell. The director, Monty Marsh-McGlone, is a preschool teacher currently studying education at the UW-Madison.

The playwrights:  Vince Busenbark * Jeff Casey * Mary Fairweather Dexter * Philip Heckman * Holly Walter Kerby * Kelly Kotewa-Veldey * Jane Leahy * Paul Milisch * Marty Mulhern * Jonathan  Pollack * Rachel Schramm * Gail Sterkel * Elena Tabachnick.

Nov 10 2011

Collaborating with Special Education Assistants

Hats off to John Harper, MMSD Executive Director of Educational Services.   In his monthly staff newsletter he devoted an entire section to Collaborating with Special Education Assistants.  The article is posted below and truly validates the importance of SEAs in providing direct services to our children with exceptional educational needs.

Oct 19 2011

Recall Preliminary Needs

From Will and Rowan (Recall Volunteer Coordinators):

The recall is picking up steam and our volunteer program is running strong. With volunteers in and out of our office and when things ramp up even more volunteers helping out, we need a few things to make this office a place you’d want to show up to. So we are asking you to help us out with a few things we need:

  • Food (We need to feed our volunteers!)
  • Toilet Paper
  • Paper Towels
  • Laptops
  • Headphones
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Water

If you are planning on bringing food, it would be preferable to bring it during the shifts we have, which are Tuesdays 9-12, Wednesday 5-8 and Friday 1-4. We also are having a big weekend of volunteer shifts on October 22nd and 23rd where we will be needing a lot of food. If you are planning on bringing non-food items, feel free to bring them any day Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.

Our office is located at 110 King Street, Suite 203 Madison WI. This is across the street from the Majestic Theater, above Ancora Coffee and half a block away from the Capitol.

If you have any questions please call us at 608-260-2416 or send us an email at either or

Thank you so much for helping the fight for Wisconsin!

Rowan and Will

Feb 24 2011

We Are Wisconsin

Submitted by Robin Kantzler 02/24/11 @ 8:31 am

For those who want to hear the public workers speak to you, here you go:

We Are Wisconsin from Finn Ryan on Vimeo.

Feb 24 2011

Wisconsin State Bill – Video Part 2

Submitted by Robin Kantzler 02/22/11 @ 9:46 am

Wonderful like the first. Many of the people in the video are from around the country and around the world. This is no longer a Wisconsin issue.

Please come if you can, it is democracy in the making. We welcome you.

Wisconsin “Budget Repair Bill” Protest Pt 2 from Matt Wisniewski on Vimeo.

Feb 21 2011

Top 10 Things You Should Know about Scott Walker’s Budget Repair Bill

Scott Walker’s budget repair bill (the full text of which is available online as a PDF) aims to eliminate collective bargaining rights in the State of Wisconsin. The following provisions, when considered together, should send a chill down every worker’s spine. As Scot Ross of One Wisconsin Now said, “If this was happening in another country, we’d call it a Banana Republic.” (source) Continue reading

Feb 21 2011

Contact Your Legislators!

Ask your representatives in the State Assembly and Senate to oppose Governor Walker’s destructive bill.

Feb 21 2011

Watch This Video

Submitted by Robin Kantzler 02/18/11 @ 12:11 pm

If you do nothing else today – this week – for the movement hitting Madison Wisconsin – please watch this video. SIMPLY AMAZING.

Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill Protest from Matt Wisniewski on Vimeo.


Feb 21 2011

Scott Walker Padded Salary Increases for Cronies During Budgetary Distress: 24% Salary Increase for Aide with 2 Public Pensions

Submitted by Robin Kantzler from an article on BuzzFlash on Sat, 02/19/2011 – 3:34pm.

Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin who is spearheading the GOP effort to crush collective bargaining, lavished relatively large salary increases on his staff when he was chief executive of the Milwaukee County Board. Walker surreptitiously did this in 2008 – without the approval of the county board itself and at a time that the county was facing a fiscal deficit, and Walker was about to lay off a large number of union workers. In addition, 700 county positions had already been left vacant due to budgetary pressures.
Continue reading