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. pogojo

    I thought the people of WI wanted this, some judge overturns?

    September 14, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  2. tommy mack

    This had nothing to do with saving the state money (the unions had already agreed to everything Gov.Walker wanted). This is about a teabagger busting all unions for political reasons and NOT what he said. Luckily, the court said, "Don't be a tool."

    September 14, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  3. OCCUPY WALLSTREET FOR CONGRESS

    It's a start.

    Slowly but surely the people in america are awakening.

    Heck, I'm even hearing elderly people on CSPAN in the mornings complain about their grandchildren having to compete with free trade slave labor overseas while those same companies wave the american flag with pride over here.

    September 14, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  4. TomCom

    Hip, Hip, Horray! Victory for Unions!

    September 14, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  5. RWB1956

    Looks like the Republican web of lies across the entire country are unraveling! HAHAHA!

    September 14, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  6. Joe

    Wow, what a crazy turn of events it has been here in Wisconsin. Of course that Scott Walker thinks he will prevail in the appeals process. So many unhappy campers here in WI and it has been a long haul in general. I can't wait for the appeal... Whatever happens in that process will certainly set a precedence for the rest of the country.

    September 14, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  7. sharky

    Ah Liberal Judges, bought and paid for by the Unions.

    So the voters of Wisconsin VOTED for Walker and the union busting. Walker invokes law, Walker is recalled, WINS recall, and yet the people of Wisconsin are ignored and not heard.

    Looks like Unions own judges and politicians too.

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

    You don't Appeal an illegal.order and give them forty copies that you were robbed during a hostile proveeding, you file a criminal complaint .

    September 14, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  9. CS

    Let me guess...a judge appointed by the same legislators who gave the unions the big fat budget busting pensions and salaries in the first place...for endorsements during elections of course. NAH! That's not a conflict of interest.

    September 14, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  10. Brandt

    Scott Walker predicts that he ultimately fails at everything he does. Why do people vote for this fool?

    September 14, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  11. Wastrel

    A federal judge's decision already conflicts with what this county court judge says. This is a renegade judge who can't follow the decision of a higher court.

    September 14, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  12. anticomm

    good for union, bad for people

    September 14, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  13. humberto

    Time to.put Walker and his cronies in jail for fraud.

    September 14, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  14. Mario - OHIO

    Take that, Walker. Another defeat for the GOP-orchestrated strategy to weaken workers' right.
    And don't give me the "unions are corrupt" spiel. Corruption exists at every level of management, from corporations to unions to governments.

    September 14, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  15. joe

    too bad unions are so bad for his country and that corporations can be pigs as well. we need to all find a way to meet in the middle..

    September 14, 2012 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  16. jeff

    "state will ultimately prevail "

    September 14, 2012 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  17. doug

    Just think about it. Those of us in the private sector that still have jobs haven't gotten raises or bonuses, we have not got cadillac benefits either, we have a job and right now that's doing pretty darn good.

    Why should public sector workers enjoy increases when the people whose money they get have seen no increases in pay many times we have been cut along with our benefits and other perks that we still foot the bill for the private sector to enjoy.

    The public sector government workers need to live in reality, the new normal like the rest of us. It's only fair that they sacrifice just as we have had to do, it's like a special class of the middle class that gets to be immune to the virus of recession and depressions, their troth is always on fill as ours is either diminished or a distant memory.

    September 14, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  18. Pat

    I trust Walker will keep the unions in check; where they need to be.

    September 14, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  19. rude

    The class warfare has begun, expect more attacks on the working man.

    September 14, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  20. LL

    YES......Take a walk Walker

    September 14, 2012 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  21. RillyKewl

    Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!!
    Let freedom ring!

    September 14, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  22. towhaul1369

    Let's take this to the U.S. Supreme court. If the unions win Walker did America a Huge favor! Looks like Walker, Paul Ryan, Koch Bro and the Republican party may get the bad end of the deal from this. The lesson from this....REPUBLICANS DON'T MESS WITH AMERICA AND OUR FREEDOMS! "WE THE PEOPLE SHALL STAND!"

    September 14, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  23. no luv 4 dot Gov

    Are private sector workers less human than the government workers?

    If you say we are all equal then we all have less in these economic times, fair is fair, no one gets an excemption from this economy.

    That is the issue here, and it's not without relevancy nationally and in DC. Think about what is sustainable and what is just pandering rhetoric on money we keep printing and devaluing in a game where government trumps private,

    Statism the new socialism custom made for America from Pelosi, the late Senator Kennedy, Frank, Robert Byrd, Al Gore Sr. and Jr. ETC. You could say FDR is the father of it in America but what it has manifested into is this oppresive, controlling, manipulating, deceptive, and unPartiotic advanced version that was started by LBJ and the great society which has grown into one of America's most ugly beasts.

    September 14, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  24. Brian

    Liberal judges and unions have destroyed this country.

    September 14, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  25. insighteous

    Typical Left Wing BS. Can't win at the ballot box, can win in the assembly or congress, can’t win a debate on the issues but the can always trump the will of the people by using bought and paid for left wing judges. Please people, Scott Walker saved your state without mayhem but the mayhem just keeps coming. Please stop this and vote out all left wingers. They are truly the reason this nation is on the brink.

    September 14, 2012 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
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