Judge tosses much of Wis. collective bargaining law
September 14th, 2012
07:42 PM ET
2 years ago

Judge tosses much of Wis. collective bargaining law

(CNN) - A Wisconsin judge on Friday ruled as unconstitutional major portions of the controversial state law that restricted the collective bargaining rights of many public employees.

Dane County Circuit Judge Juan B. Colas found several aspects of the law contrary to both the state and U.S. constitutions.

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A challenge to the law was brought against Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission by two labor unions representing education and municipal employees.

Passed and signed in March 2011, the law restricts the rights of public employee unions to bargain collectively.

It also closed a $137 million hole the state budget and required many public workers - except police and firefighters - to pay more for their retirement and health benefits.

The suit claims the law restricts employees’ free speech, due process and association rights, and violates certain labor regulations. It also argued the Legislature did not have the authority to consider this law during the special legislative session in which it was passed.

Colas found that the law was not passed in violation of restrictions placed on special legislative sessions nor violated the constitutional due process protection.

But it did violate the employees' association and speech rights, Colas ruled.

The law serves to "single out and encumber the rights of those employees who choose union membership and representation solely because of that association and therefore infringe upon the rights of free speech and association guaranteed by both the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions," Colas wrote.

He also found a portion of the law relating to retirement contributions exceeded the legislature's authority and was a "local affair." The Wisconsin Constitution grants broad authority over non-statewide issues to local governments.

The suit was brought by employees of the Madison Metropolitan School District and the City of Milwaukee. It was not clear Friday how the ruling would affect state workers.

In a statement released after the ruling, Walker suggested the state would appeal and he referenced his June recall election win.

"The people of Wisconsin clearly spoke on June 5. Now, they are ready to move on," he said. "Sadly a liberal activist judge in Dane County wants to go backwards and take away the lawmaking responsibilities of the legislature and the governor. We are confident that the state will ultimately prevail in the appeals process."

The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO union president said in a statement, "Scott Walker's attempt to silence the union men and women of Wisconsin's public sector was an immoral, unjust and illegal power grab."

"Now, a court has ruled that the essential provisions of Act 10, Scott Walker's draconian attack on public worker's right to collectively bargain, is unconstitutional," Phil Neuenfeldt said.

Protesters swarmed the state house in 2011 as the law was under consideration, and several legal challenges and a nationally-watched recall election seeking the ouster of Walker followed passage of the law.

National political and union groups weighed in, sending money and supporters to aid both sides.

Democratic legislators fled the state to prevent the state Senate from reaching a quorum and voting on the measure, and at least one Republican legislator said he received death threats.


Filed under: Wisconsin
soundoff (426 Responses)
  1. freddie nerk

    Walker is GOP trash. This should go to the Supreme Court

    September 14, 2012 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  2. John

    Unions, their lackeys and the public employees who know they are grossly over compensated for the type of work they are doing just smacks of insult to the rest of Americans.

    If 99% percent of the people living in the United States can perform your job today with little or no training and you are getting paid some ridiculous salary, say in the 40k+ range then I can be certain you belong to a Union.

    Pathetic...

    September 14, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  3. bannister

    Once again, the will of the people is thrown away by a rouge judge.

    September 14, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  4. n2video

    So American justice DOES prevail. Imagine that.

    September 14, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  5. jake

    You lose walker, just like the slimy grease bag you are. The people will always win when a draconian power hungry little weasel like yourself tries to silence them. Your village is calling you walker...they want their idiot back...off you go now little man.

    September 14, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  6. Chris

    It has not been tossed. One liberal, activist judge attempts to toss the law. His ruling will be overturned on appeal. Nice try, rallying the followers, CNN.

    September 14, 2012 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  7. Don

    Guess Beady Eyed walker is on the phone with the Koch bros. " what do we do now?"

    September 14, 2012 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  8. matt

    Another judge legislating from the bench... Big surprise

    September 14, 2012 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  9. Jeff

    Rediculous. The Judicial branch arrives at a finding contrary to the Badger GOP's wishes, and suddenly, the presiding judge is a liberal activist. Typical GOP excuse making.

    September 14, 2012 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  10. Jerp

    A liberal judge threw out a conservative law before the presidential election in a swing state. Could this be politically motivated to awake the Wisconsin democratic base that got beat in two gubernatorial elections (including a recall) and one congressional election within the last two years?

    It wouldn't be surprising to learn that the Obama Chicago machine orchestrated this nonsense.

    September 14, 2012 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  11. Andrew Newitt

    Who cares what the judge ruled. The ruling will be overturned on appeal and the state will continue on it's path of fiscal sanity and taking away the old time connection between the public unions and their lackey politicians. Unions were great at one time, and they still have a place at the table. But they never should be at the head of the table and that is where they have been for the last generation. The pendelum has swung too far and now sensible reforms are in order.

    September 14, 2012 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  12. Megan

    Liberal judges are always trying to legislate from the bench. It will be overturned.

    September 14, 2012 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  13. Wahaha

    Obviously, the judge cares what is written on the paper more than what the realty is.

    September 14, 2012 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  14. noneyobeeswax

    I am tired of watching Repbulicans prefer cuts to programs (like education) that do indisputable good for our economy (and those most vulnerable) rather than asking people who are already doing well in tough times to give a little more than they would normally.

    Please I ask kindly that no one claim I am a communist. If I were a communist I would say that everyone should make the exact same salary. It is beyond unreasonable to say that having those with high income pay a higher percentage of what they are currently taking in is akin to outlawing wealth in any form. It is inaccurate in every way and I have difficulty seeing the motivation for such statements as being anything other than blind greed.

    Lastly no more BS about money that needs to go to "job creators". Money that is not spent or invested by the upper class that is taxed will be spent or invested by the government. The difference is the government will get the return on the investment and the public will reap the benefits instead of making someone who is already rich richer. No I am not poor. I am in a well educated and financially successful family of entrepreneurs, but I have always been reminded of a simple truth that success takes hard work AND some measure of luck. I am lucky, and everyone else who is also lucky shames themselves by claiming their wealth and/or possessions would even exist without society and civilization as a whole.

    September 14, 2012 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  15. KingPin

    People voted on this. That should be the final say not some creep in a robe that was paid off.

    September 14, 2012 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  16. snauski

    You mean one judge can override the vote of an entire state?? Can you say USSR, Egypt, Syria, Iran, etc. Now thats outragious. Where's Jesse and Al – hah hah hah

    September 14, 2012 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  17. Jeff

    This is getting very scary. Fringe judges who can willy-nilly overrule the will of the people. This nation is in big trouble when judges seem to have more power than the executive or legislative branches. This is not the way the founding fathers set up this nation!!!

    September 14, 2012 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  18. Patriot

    So what did Gov. Scott Walker achieve? He ends up looking like an idiot, he made the Republicans look like fanatics, he helped make the GOP brand poison, he helped insure an Obama victory, he made Wisconsin look like a red neck hooligan State... Vote him out!

    September 14, 2012 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  19. Supperman

    Well hello country!!! How is everyone doing

    September 14, 2012 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  20. Robert

    Finally the middle class aren't being screwed over by some dictator governor. Scott Walker sucks

    September 14, 2012 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  21. Loathstheright

    Republicans, the biggest threat against Americans and American values.

    September 14, 2012 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  22. Rich

    Someone in Wisconsin finally found some guts and sense.

    September 14, 2012 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  23. VCMD

    Welcome to the Socialist States of America!

    September 14, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  24. pointless1

    A law passed by a governor with a high school diploma is struck down by a judge with a law degree...... Imagine that.

    September 14, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  25. jai jai

    Nice "shot across the bow" from Gov Walker but most of this law didn't stand a chance from a judicial perspective.

    September 14, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
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