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. Larry L

    This gives me faith in the judicial system. Maybe the right-wing hasn't hyjacked America.

    September 14, 2012 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  2. Greg C.

    Shouldn't surprise anyone; if you can't win in the election booth, you can always get a favor from a liberal judge.

    September 14, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  3. Truth Teller

    Walker is just another Republican pushing Big Government into our business!

    September 14, 2012 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  4. us_1776

    Scott Walker is a total jacka$$.

    The GOP does not want labor to have a level playing field.

    And collective bargaining is the only hope that employees have of getting a halfway level playing field in wage negotiations.

    .

    September 14, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  5. reformnow

    This is great new. Collective bargaining for public employees had worked in Wisconsin for 50 years and these unions had agreed to concessions to aid the state budget. Gov. Walker was just out to destroy unions, period.

    September 14, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  6. Bull31

    The reason showed by the Federal court is amazing. The system of checks and balances once again stops an extreme act of injustice which limited our personal freedom. I'll organize and collective bargain whenever the hell I please.

    September 14, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  7. Rob

    The judge is a dictator. He can take a long walk off a short pier.All he's doing is lenghening the process wasting more taxpayer money.

    September 14, 2012 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  8. Bill

    All union workers in Wisconsin should strike including police and fire and medical and teachers and then let that judge say the same thing. The military would have to come in. America is the people of the United States. United we stand and decided we fall. The Republican party is for the rich....

    September 14, 2012 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  9. Phi Thomas

    More Koch head brother money gone to waste, still its has to be nice to say you have the Governor of a state on your pay roll & Maybe even a President & his boy wonder lying VP Selection if you can brain wash enough people

    September 14, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  10. mj

    Must be on the Union Payroll.

    September 14, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  11. Lisa P

    Hooray! And with the John Doe investigation continuing, with any luck at all Governor Walker will be next!

    September 14, 2012 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  12. eeyore

    YESSSS!

    September 14, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  13. steve

    bravo!

    September 14, 2012 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  14. Reagan80

    I guess he didn't read Obama's rant about "unelected judges".

    September 14, 2012 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  15. Shawn Irwin

    Gov. Scott Walker predicted the "state will ultimately prevail in the appeals process."

    He is not a capitalist . . . . he is a fascist.

    September 14, 2012 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  16. rc8888

    OMG!!! will nothing stop the union thugs, not even a court of law?

    September 14, 2012 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  17. Corey

    Oh I can hear the screaming now. A Judge by the name of JUAN COLAS having the audacity to stand up for workers. The Republicans are gonna have a fit.

    September 14, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  18. stillin

    Thank YOU Judge Colas. There is hope.

    September 14, 2012 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  19. ArizonaYankee

    No surprise here, A minority judge supporting unions. Nah.....

    September 14, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  20. USwatcher

    Good news for tax paying public workers.

    September 14, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  21. Foxhole Atheist

    "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration."

    -Abraham Lincoln, State of the Union, 1861

    September 14, 2012 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  22. rc8888

    Maybe we should just take our divided nation and split into 2: the hardworking capitalistic conservatives can have one part and the bleeding heart liberals can have the other. But wait, who would they blame for things and who would support them?

    September 14, 2012 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  23. jake

    Just goes to show you walker is an idiot. Time to give it up pal...you lose...the people win.

    September 14, 2012 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  24. fred

    first

    September 14, 2012 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  25. Name Penguin

    Hopefully,Walker will be voted out along with the bulk of the Republicans who care nothing about the working man

    September 14, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
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