Parts of Collective Bargaining Law Ruled Unconstitutional
A federal judge today said automatic collection of dues and requiring annual re-certification violate unions' First Amendment rights.
Two components of Act 10 - the budget repair bill - were deemed unconstitutional today, according to a federal judge's ruling.
Specifically, unions challenged whether or not dues can be automatically deducted from public employee paychecks and that unions must certify with an absolute majority.
The lawsuit was filed by a coalition of unions shortly after Act 10 was passed last year.
Saying those provisions violate union members' First Amendment rights because public safety employee unions are not subject to the same restrictions, US District Judge William M. Conley issued his opinion Friday. He rejected assertions that the law violates any equal protection under the law clauses, but he ordered that automatic dues withdrawals be reinstated by May 31.
In a story from jsonline.com, Conley's ruling is quoted, in part, as saying, "So long as the State of Wisconsin continues to afford ordinary certification and dues deductions to mandatory public safety unions with sweeping bargaining rights, there is no rational basis to deny those rights to voluntary general unions with severely restricted bargaining rights."
State Rep. Sandy Pasch (D-Whitefish Bay) said in a news release that today's ruling serves as a reminder of Wisconsin Republicans' "unprecedented power grabs" this session.
"Unnecessarily dividing our state and unconstitutionally dismantling workers’ rights are not examples of responsible governance – they are examples of extreme arrogance," Pasch said. "The extreme, divisive decisions made by Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans threaten to undermine Wisconsin’s longstanding traditions of openness and transparency and damage the well-being of our working families."
Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) is Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Finance, and he issued a statement with Assembly Majority Leader Rep. Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) saying the reforms of Act 10 will stand the test of time.
“While we’re disappointed that two parts of the law were struck down by a liberal judge from Dane County, appointed by President Barack Obama, the fact is he ruled almost all of Act 10 constitutional. We are hopeful that the ruling will be appealed but are pleased that the first federal court test confirms that Act 10 is valid," they wrote. "The reforms in Act 10 have undeniably helped the state move forward past difficult financial times. The reforms were used by local governments and school districts to balance their budgets. Together with our jobs agenda, Act 10 helped turn the tide and move the state toward a more prosperous future for its citizens.”
Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine), the ranking Democrat on the Joint Committee on Finance said the judge's decision is a win for public employees.
"The decision is a vindication for workers and their right to be in a union without discrimination," he told Patch Friday.