You’ll be hearing a lot about the upcoming Union Recertification Election in the next several weeks. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this election. They’re taken from a one-page handout prepared by AFT-Wisconsin, that you can download from our website.

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Ballots for the AFT Local 243 Union Recertification Election will be cast by telephone or online — but although we’ve come a long way since the days of the paper ballot, one thing remains the same: Every Vote Counts.

Members of our union, AFT Local 243, are asking you to vote YES for union recertification.

After consultation with coworkers, local union leaders, and AFT-Wisconsin staff, we have filed petitions for recertification with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission. The election will open at noon on Wednesday, April 1, and will close at noon on Tuesday, April 21. Here is what every employee needs to know:

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Ballot BoxNot sure you can make it to the polls for the Spring Election? Consider the “early voting option” available at your municipal clerk’s office. In-person absentee voting (aka “early voting”) for Madison residents started on Monday, March 23, 2015 and will end on Friday, April 3, 2015. Eligible votes may cast their ballots at Madison City Clerk’s office, Room 103 in the City County Building at 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The Clerk’s office is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.

If you are not a Madison resident, contact your municipal clerk for details about early voting schedules. If you do not know the identity and/or location of your municipal clerk, you can find this information at My Vote Wisconsin (a service of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board). Click on REGULAR VOTER and then use the ADDRESS SEARCH option to locate both your municipal clerk’s office and your polling place (if you plan to vote in-person on April 7, 2015).

104 years ago today, on March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City — one of the deadliest industrial disasters in United States history– left 146 workers dead. Almost all of them were young immigrant women.

Triangle-Fire New York Herald

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory building interior after the fire. Photograph from the National Archives.

“Locked doors kept the workers from escaping; there was not enough water to put out the flames, and firemen’s ladders were too short to reach the upper stories. Many of the young women and men working there leapt out the windows and fell to their deaths onto the sidewalk outside. Others were crushed in the elevator shaft or when the fire escape collapsed,” reports the U.S. National Archives, which holds many records of this tragic event.

In the aftermath of the fire Congress passed sweeping reforms in labor laws and safety standards, providing a boost to labor unions. After the fire, Frances Perkins served as secretary for the Committee on Safety, which led the way to new labor laws. Perkins later became FDR’s Secretary of Labor — the first woman to serve in a presidential cabinet.

“But 104 years later it has become clear that too many folks in this country have forgotten the painful lessons of that day,” writes Huffington Post blogger Keith Mestrich, President and CEO of Amalgamated Bank, the largest majority-owned union bank in the United States. “And as we gear up for next year’s presidential election, voters should know that some of the candidates running would rather folks forgot about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire altogether.”

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Rockwell_1943_Rosie-the-RiveterNow that Spring Break is over, representatives from the Local 243 Recertification Committee will once again be visiting the Madison College regional campuses to answer questions and provide information regarding the First Annual Certification Election, union efforts, and union membership.

Local 243 will be providing box lunches for all full-time faculty and PSRP staff during these visits. So look for the union table, stop by, grab your lunch, and ask questions.

Union and campus reps will be staffing the tables this week between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the following locations


Monday, March 23, 2015 – Commercial Avenue Campus
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 – DTEC
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - Watertown Campus
Thursday, March 25, 2015 – South Campus

The Local 243 Forum will hold a meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2015 in Room C1423B on the Truax campus.

A draft copy of the March 24, 2015 Forum Meeting agenda is available on this website as a PDF document. This document also has a list of Forum meetings scheduled through May 2015. A final copy of the agenda will be posted when it becomes available.

Among the items expected to be addressed at this meeting are a report from the Organizing Committee and an upcoming College Assembly vote on budget and Metro Campuses

All Local 243 union members are welcome to attend Forum meetings.