Government Relations

UW System Position on Bills Introduced in the Legislature During the 2007-2008 Session

Pending Legislation

SB 353

Collective Bargaining for Faculty & Academic Staff

Full Description

(Hansen/Richards).  Provides UW System faculty and academic staff the right to collectively bargain for wages, hours, and conditions of employment. Collective bargaining units would be structured with separate units for faculty at each of the UW System campuses and for academic staff at each of the UW System campuses. Although similar to the State Employment Labor Relations Act (SELRA) that is provided for other state employees, this bill specifically specifies that it is permissible for the UW System Board of Regents to implement changes in salaries or conditions of employment for members of faculty or academic staff at one campus and not for such persons at other UW institutions if certain conditions are met. Collective bargaining would be prohibited on the mission and goals of the Board of Regents, diminution of tenure, the rights granted under current law and academic freedom. The bill also prohibits strikes. Under the bill, collective bargaining agreements covering UW faculty and academic staff must be approved by the Joint Committee on Employment Relations and adopted by the legislature.

Referred to:  Senate Committee on Agriculture and Higher Education

UW System Position

NEUTRAL:  The Board of Regents values the important contributions made by faculty, academic staff, and classified staff members. The combined expertise and hard work of these dedicated employees contributes mightily to the success of our 170,000 students. In turn, the UW System adds tremendous value to the state as a whole.

Most classified university employees, representing approximately 36% of the UW System workforce, are currently represented through collective bargaining.

In accordance with current Wisconsin Statutes, UW System faculty and academic staff members play an important leadership roles within their respective institutions through shared governance.

Due to the permissive nature of this legislation, it is difficult to predict how provision of these rights will or will not impact the 26 UW System campuses and 72 county Extension offices. However, interest in this legislation among faculty and staff may be fueled by lower-than-average salaries and other issues.

The UW System faculty and staff are highly educated, well-informed professionals who understand and value their shared governance rights. They have chosen a career path that requires thoughtful, collegial analysis of complex social and economic matters. Therefore, the decision to advocate for these bargaining rights, or not, is, theirs.