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Two largest teachers unions enter merger talks

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MADISON (AP) — Wisconsin’s two largest teachers unions will talk about merging as membership declines due to an overhaul of collective bargaining power.

The Wisconsin Education Association Council voted over the weekend at a special assembly to join the American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin in talks to merge the groups.

Leaders of both unions say membership has declined about 30 percent since the state’s new collective bargaining law, known as Act 10, took effect. The law pushed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker ended most collective bargaining for the majority of public workers.

WEAC says the most important reason to merge the groups is to strengthen and unify advocates of public education. Kenosha teacher Michael Orth said, “it’s about building local union power.”

If approved, the earliest the merger could take effect would be fall of 2014.