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Teacher sues college over union negotiations (UPDATE)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A part-time instructor sued the Milwaukee Area Technical College on Thursday, saying its board illegally negotiated a new contract with an employee union.

The basis for the lawsuit is Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011 law eliminating most public employees’ collective bargaining rights. It limits negotiations to wage increases that are no greater than the rate of inflation.

The lawsuit, filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty on behalf of part-time instructor Victoria Marone, claims the MATC board quickly negotiated a new contract while the law was being debated in 2011. It says that contract was far more favorable to employees than it would have been under Walker’s law.

The lawsuit also says a new contract the board approved in February to succeed the current one that expires in 2014 was illegally negotiated. The deal with the American Federation of Teachers Local 212 covers more than just base wages, said Rick Esenberg, a lawyer and president of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.

“We sent a letter to MATC warning them of the risk they were taking by negotiating with the union,” Esenberg said in a statement. “They chose to ignore us, the law, and, most importantly, their taxpayers. We are asking for the court to declare the new labor agreement to be unlawful and invalid.”

A message left at the office of MATC’s president requesting comment was not immediately returned.

Marone’s lawsuit also claims she has not been allowed to negotiate her own deal with the college. She has taught English as a second language there since 1984.

“Neither MATC nor Local 212 ever asked for my input,” she said in a statement. “I’m appalled that my union would flout the law and negotiate an illegal contract.”

Phone and email messages left for the union president were not immediately returned.

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