Judge tosses much of Wis. collective bargaining law
September 14th, 2012
07:42 PM ET
6 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. Joshua Pieper

    Scott Walker is completely out of touch with middle America. The fact that he is Governor of the great state of Wisconsin is a flat out embarrassment.

    September 15, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  2. jon

    Politicians always talk big about restricting unions and their pensions, bargaining rights, etc, etc – and they ALWAYS lose in the courts. Why don't they ever learn??? Stupid, I guess.

    September 15, 2012 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  3. darrin OBrien

    Bunch of PIGS the GOP is gonna Fall !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 15, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  4. Mike

    Government will just not allow it's own power to be curbed.

    September 15, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  5. Andrew


    September 15, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  6. RickTodd

    can't beat him.....so get some Judge to toss it

    business as usual

    September 15, 2012 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  7. Brain

    Finally somebody with some sense in Wisconsin. I'm not for unions, but government doesn't have the right to prevent Americans from banding together.

    September 15, 2012 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  8. Georgie

    Wisconsin voters had their chance to toss Gov. Scott Walker. Now, he feels empowered. Too bad for the middle class worker.

    September 15, 2012 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  9. pjusa

    Leave it to the liberal losers to pay off some activist judge to attempt to legislate from the bench. This is how law works when unions run things. In the end the laws will stand and the Wisconsin tax payers will be left with the bill.

    September 15, 2012 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  10. Grady

    won't get fooled again!

    September 15, 2012 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  11. A person

    The court properly struck down this legislation. Gov Walker would rather kill unions than negotiat with them. It shows how much he fears them. When you bash unions, just think about how life would be with out them. No more 40 hour work weeks, no more over time, little or no paid vaction, reduced health benefits....Oh wait, you already are experiencing them!! Yea, we don't need unions my ...! The pendulum is starting to swing the other way folks. If you want a better life, join your co-workers, unite, and demand one.

    September 15, 2012 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  12. Randall

    We here in WI tried to toss our governor, but sadly failed. However, at least we can say we tossed his damn law. Having Scott Walker and Paul Ryan represent WI is a shameful stain in the fabric of our state's history.

    September 15, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  13. GHZSD

    Sned them home with bad checks!

    September 15, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  14. zooni

    Looks like the Koch brothers wasted a lot of money buying Scott Walker. Send the funds to his Cayman account, he tried.

    September 15, 2012 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  15. Indyswimmer66

    So... by Walker's reasoning, if the Wisconsin legislature wanted to vote to take away their citizen's Civil Rights, that would be ok... oh... they did.

    September 15, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  16. Viyo

    These union thugs and their crooked judges just don't believe in the Democratic process! ...the people of Wisconsin will not tolerate another attempt by the liberal left to allow these hoodllums to continue robbing the middleclass and raising their taxes! ...enough is enough!

    September 15, 2012 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  17. Silent Majority

    What are comments being blocked by CNN?

    September 15, 2012 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  18. Tacitus Talks

    It is not tossed, it won't be tossed until the Supreme Court of Wisconsin tosses it. It was struck down at a district court by a liberal activists. It will be upheld.

    September 15, 2012 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  19. bman

    The Libs are all about sharing money until it comes to their own.....Too funny man!!!

    September 15, 2012 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  20. pi boson


    September 15, 2012 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  21. Esteban pei mei

    Public unions are a cancer.

    September 15, 2012 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  22. CR

    Judges ruling makes sense especially in light of the scotus ruling that granted freespeech to corporations, now if Walker wants to come out against that ruling about corporations fine but I dont think he will seeing as he stands to benefit a great deal from their hidden support.

    September 15, 2012 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  23. James

    Awesome. Take it to the supreme court. See what happens then.

    September 15, 2012 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  24. Rick1948

    Finally, someone getting control of the right wing nutcases.

    September 15, 2012 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  25. Ramrod

    It is time to move all state employees and federal employees into the FICA program. One rule for everybody. If you want extra benefits, save it for yourself.

    September 15, 2012 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
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