WPEC got its start over 20 years ago when a small group of professional state employees met in an upstairs office on Atwood Avenue in Madison to talk about forming a union. Some were already committed to the idea but others were skeptical. It kept coming down to the question “what would we get with a union that we don't already get under the state’s civil service system?”
Our Vision: We are a courageous union whose members collectively forge a future in which working people build just and democratic workplaces and communities.
AFT-Wisconsin is a labor organization of professional public employees in the state of Wisconsin. Formerly called the Wisconsin Federation of Teachers, AFT-Wisconsin is a Wisconsin chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. Started primarily as a teachers’ union in 1931, AFT-Wisconsin today is comprised of many diverse professionals with over 500 job classifications, including members in the state PK-12 school system, the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), numerous state agencies, and the University of Wisconsin System.
Members of AFT-Wisconsin are organized into local unions, each representing workers in a specific area. Local unions with similar areas of interest belong to one of six constituency councils, and retired AFT-Wisconsin members are part of the Retiree Council:
- Graduate Employee Council - Graduate employees at UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee
- Higher Education Council - Faculty and academic staff in the University of Wisconsin System
- Paraprofessional and School-Related Personnel (PSRP) Council - PSRP employees in both PK-12 school districts and the WTCS
- PK-12 Teacher Council - Teachers in Wisconsin public PK-12 school districts
- State Employee Council - Professional employees of the State of Wisconsin
- WTCS Council - Instructional staff in the WTCS
- Retiree Council - Retired members from all AFT-Wisconsin local unions
AFT-W’s structure is based on constituency groups called “Councils”. This is recognition of the fact that while we’re all in this together, we have some differences. For example, state employees and graduate assistants bargain with the Office of State Employee Relations, while K-12 locals bargain with local school boards and Technical Colleges bargain with the technical college’s board. College faculty and academic staff haven’t had the chance to bargain with anyone.
When the Wisconsin Legislature gave state employees the right to collectively bargain in 1959, they created the groups called bargaining units that would independently decide if they wanted to collectively bargain and if so, who they wanted to represent them.
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AFT Public Employees is the division of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) that represents federal, state and local government employees.
Learn the history of the AFT, including the union's founding in Chicago in 1916, its affiliation with the AFL-CIO, its battles for workers and human rights and its continued work to uphold the proud traditions on which the union was created.
Learn more about the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which was founded in 1916 to represent the economic, social and professional interests of classroom teachers and is an affiliated international union of the AFL-CIO.