Teachers’ unions are flexing their political biases and muscle, as demonstrated by the American Federation of Teachers’ financial backing of a liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz. Protasiewicz was backed by the Democratic Party, progressive groups and labor unions and defeated the conservative candidate Daniel Kelly by about 10%. She will serve a ten-year term.
AFT endorsed Protasiewicz in the race because the union disagreed with the 4-3 “conservative majority” at the state’s highest court. The union said, “We have an opportunity to bring an end to the terrible story of gerrymandering in this state, protect reproductive rights, and stop challenges to our elections.”
According to Wisconsin Watch, an investigative journalism outfit run through the state’s PBS affiliate, found that the teachers’ union poured money into the judicial election:
“A Better Wisconsin Together Political Fund, a coalition of labor unions and progressive social advocacy groups, has spent more than $5 million on ad buys attacking Kelly’s stance on abortion and other issues.”
“That’s how organized labor gets around the $18,000 spending cap on direct contributions to Supreme Court candidates. Major national unions like American Federation of Teachers have contributed $500,000…:”
Although $300,000 may seem a drop in the bucket out of the $24 million-plus spent for Protasiewicz, it is not an insignificant amount. After all, it is unclear whether membership dues were funneled into politics with AFT members’ express permission.
AFT President Randi Weingarten proclaimed, after hearing about the election results, “Wisconsin’s Supreme Court will rule on several landmark cases that will have repercussions for families across the state, including the ability to access reproductive care, and the drawing of fair electoral maps that reflect the will of the voters, not a partisan political agenda.”
AFT’s political activism does not appear to align with real-life issues facing teachers, such as staffing classrooms, increasing number of student disciplinary problems, Critical Race Theory and politicized Black Lives Matter curriculum. But the teachers’ union took a victory lap in the name of political partisanship anyway.