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Milwaukee Teachers May Display Bargaining Signs in Class, Court Rules

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A Wisconsin appeals court has ruled that public school teachers in Milwaukee may display signs calling for a new union contract in their classrooms.

The city school system had sought to bar teachers from displaying signs that read "Attract and Retain With a Fair Contract NOW!" and "Do the Right Thing." The signs represented political advocacy that was barred by district policy from school buildings, the system argued.

But the state Court of Appeals affirmed a ruling by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission that the signs were permitted under state law because they related to ongoing collective-bargaining activities.

In a July 1 ruling in Milwaukee Board of School Directors v. WERC , a three-judge panel of the court was unanimous in agreeing with the commission that "these signs would not provoke any more questioning or distraction than the teacher’s other personal postings, which are specifically permitted by the Board. A teacher’s posting of a Chicago Bears poster for instance, is much more likely to provoke a response from a devoted Packer fan than a sign stating 'Do the Right Thing.'"

The Associated Press reports on the ruling here.

This is clearly grounded in Wisconsin law. I'd be curious about whether other states' labor laws and rulings permit teachers to display collective-bargaining signs in their classrooms.

1 Comment

Our class is taking the EDL585: Educational Leadership in a Legal Culture course toward a masters degree and California administrative credential. We have wrestled with this question in relation to the State of California and have come up with a few responses.

In relation to time, place, and manner rules, we determined that this teacher's actions would not be supported in California classrooms. This is supported by the Los Angeles Teachers Association v. L.A. Board of Education (1969).

As opposed to Wisconsin, we believe the posters would be allowed in school buildings, but limited to teacher gathering areas where information is disseminated.

Sincerely,
Azusa Pacific University EDL585 Students
and Prof. Matt Witmer

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