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. Tiger Jorris

    This is a state court people!nothing to see here. Move along.
    By the way, why is this the top story when Obama is raising cash to elect him to another disastrous 4 years? People are dying in the middle east! Obama is ignoring his intelligence briefings.

    September 14, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  2. Chris

    The ruling means nothing, a governor and his legislature trump an activist judge. The anti collective bargaining rights bill will stay. Also, amusing how CNN conveniently left out the fact that the recall election failed and Walker was voted with more votes than he originally got when he ran the first time. Reading this biased piece of trash, you would never think that little recall election happened.

    September 14, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  3. truthhound


    September 14, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  4. Robert

    The judge need to be taken to the gallows and hung by the neck until dead

    September 14, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  5. Sean

    Gov. Scott Walker = Jerk

    September 14, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  6. SpenderH

    As the Supreme Court recently said "Those decisions are entrusted to our ... elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences oftheir political choices." The people of Wisconsin had a chance to throw out the Republicans and they failed. The people of Wisconsin have spoken.

    September 14, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  7. Scott

    Hmmmm, I wonder who paid off the ріmр (judge)? 😉


    September 14, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  8. lynn

    poor gop cant catch a break .

    September 14, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  9. Jim432

    This law will be tossed by the state's supreme court. Just like that Kenyan will be tossed from the white house this November.

    September 14, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  10. Chris

    The rolling won't hold, it will get struck down by the supreme court for the same reason that Obamacare stayed.

    September 14, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  11. ArchieDeBunker

    And some semblance of integrity.

    September 14, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  12. sayer

    Unions are people, my friend.

    September 14, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  13. jnkesrouan

    I go to my boss at work and give him $$$ in return he gives me a compensation package that far exceeds what the company owners gets, many other employees do the same. We loot the company and drive it deep into debt, sticking the owners with the bill. In the private sector this is both illegal and prosecutable under embezzlement and bribery statutes.

    Yet this is exactly what Democrat Legislators and their own workers do. They work for and serve each other AT OUR EXPENSE (we the people are supposed to own the government) And they get compensation packages we the people pay for but do not get ourselves.
    And according to that JUDGE that's perfectly OK.

    September 14, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  14. WhackyWaco

    Fire the judge and appeal to the SCOTUS.

    September 14, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  15. disgustedvet

    What ever it takes eh ? What is a Wan Coalass ?

    September 14, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  16. Siara

    Speaking as a teacher, WOO HOO.

    September 14, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  17. Maria

    This Walker had to buy his recall status, why else would he still be there?

    September 14, 2012 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  18. yoyoma

    We're taking the house, too

    September 14, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  19. Sam Smith

    Sounds like that judge is a real geniouses! Obama / Bidin 2016!!!

    September 14, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  20. jake

    so, "liberal, activist judges" are evil but "conservative, activists judges" are o.k.? i smell hyporacy…….

    September 14, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  21. ug

    An activitist judge did this but it will be appealed and put into place...

    September 14, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  22. gwats

    Sweet. Scottie, you LOST!

    September 14, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  23. Trace

    toss the judge

    September 14, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  24. john

    It is unfortunate that Gov. Walker was not recalled but this latest court decision makes me think that maybe, just maybe, Wisconsin is still part of the United States of America where workers do still have some rights. For a while I thought that all reason and rights were being taken away from workers. The next positive move will be if voters deny the White House to GOP clone Romney and his big business, union busting, robber baron cronies.

    September 14, 2012 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  25. Sammy

    Long live AFL-CIO and trade union movement of America.

    September 14, 2012 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
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