MADISON (WKOW) -- E-mails circulated among WEAC employees indicate the executive director's decision to layoff 40-percent of staff came as a bit of a surprise.
One e-mail, sent by WEAC Executive Director Dan Burkhalter to the majority of staff earlier this summer praises the efforts of staff members during various events in 2011. In the e-mail, Burkhalter tells workers he is "confident that this union will prevail."
He goes on to tell workers they are "leading an historic struggle standing up for workers...I am grateful for what you are doing, and thank you."
Just weeks later, Burkhalter announced layoffs to 42 staff members.
27 News has learned that staffers were made aware of impending layoff notices on August 11.
An e-mail stamped Thursday, August 11 at 3:52 p.m., from Burkhalter, went to all staff members telling them "managers will be reaching out to each staff member to notify you as to whether or not you are receiving a layoff notice."
The latest IRS documentation available indicates WEAC pulled in about $24 million in member dues in 2009.
That number is expected to decrease as member dues will no longer be automatically deducted from paychecks.
One employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said the number of members who will contribute to the union is expected to decrease from almost 100,000 in 2009-10, to less than 50,000.
That employee also indicated that February and March were costly months for the union.
The employee stated that overtime fees paid to WEAC staff combined with fees paid to lobbyists to fight collective bargaining reform during the winter of 2011 may have come back to bite the union this summer.
WEAC's president Mary Bell reported WEAC spent about $2 million in lobbying fees during this winter's debate over Gov. Scott Walker's Budget Repair Bill. That's up about $1 million from spending during the fall and winter of 2008-09, the last time the state debated a biennial budget.
See below for the official press release regarding the layoffs from WEAC Executive Director, Dan Burkhalter.
WEAC's Executive Director Dan Burkhalter confirmed Monday that layoff notices are being issued to 42 WEAC employees, approximately 40 percent of the state-level organization's workforce.
"Obviously WEAC is affected by Governor Walker's union-busting legislation, and our organization is responding on many fronts. Layoffs and budget cuts are a reaction to the legislative action that was taken," said Burkhalter.
"Right now we're engaged in membership continuation campaigns. We've made steady progress in signing up members and we anticipate further progress will be made as the school year resumes. Despite budget cuts and layoffs, our goal remains the same: to be a strong and viable organization that represents the voices of Wisconsin's public school employees."
27 News' Trevor Thompson is talking to WEAC employees and will have more on this developing story tonight on 27 News at 5 & 6 p.m.
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