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. Just my opinion

    'bout time

    September 14, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  2. Gary

    Can ANYONE be on the left and not have their comments moderated by CNN?

    September 14, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  3. Gary

    GUESS NOT !!!!!!!!!!!

    September 14, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  4. Andrew

    Wisconsin is doing pretty well. They have closed the deficit hole ,unemployment is down and the economy is growing. I'm not sure the public will be too sympathetic to these unions. They voted Walker back in with a strong mandate after his fight with the public unions.

    September 14, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  5. JLS1950

    Now they should undo all the changes forced by the unjust law, and bill Scott Walker PERSONALLY for all costs related thereto as well as all legal costs, court costs and attorneys' fees incurred on BOTH sides!

    September 14, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  6. A Little R & R Not Good

    Hello Republicans.... Welcome to the Democrats kicking your butts back to where they belong. Being greedy is not a way of life...

    September 14, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  7. Gary

    CNN is the best site on the internet.Are you going to moderate this comment?

    September 14, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  8. packerfans

    Wisc Voter, come on Vote for Mitt Romney and Paul who can save America!!!

    September 14, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  9. Workhard03

    Enough with unions already.

    September 14, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  10. Solitaire

    Ok, moderator. I will modify my statement.
    Yea!!! At last!!! Hooray!!! Gov. Walker is the enemy of the working man and he has pushed through, at great cost to his state, legislation intended to tie the workers hands, damage education, and make himself look like a hero to the teapartiers.

    September 14, 2012 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  11. speltomqt

    This is good news. Now if they could just throw out the governor.

    September 14, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  12. TonyInLargo

    And the beat goes on...

    September 14, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  13. zlulz

    Unions and Democrats, bankrupting American cities one at a time.

    September 14, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  14. Trace

    Private unions are different than public unions. So the way I see this is that this judge has just signed his retirement. The people have spoken and they do not want the government paying for a union that's just going to lead their state into bankruptcy.

    September 14, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  15. Bryan Wiitala

    It's absolutely amazing what you see during an election year. Prior to this law being passed the teachers were asking for raises and retirement benefits well above and beyond the cost of living. We are in a recession after all and the unemployment rate is above 10%. Nationally closer to 16% ( CNN will not openly disclose that to the public or the realistic number of 300,000 jobs created during the Obama administration, but that's another story ) So other working class families have to suffer for this from higher property taxes that are imposed to pay for their salary. 80% of the taxes collected for my local school district goes to paying teachers salaries.

    Mind you I live in a small town in Northern Wisconsin, Rib Lake to be exact. ( 1000 people ) 26 people in my community failed to pay their property taxes this year. What our governor supported and provided was a solution. Remove collective bargaining rights. The ability to bargain for higher wages without regard to the communities well being is ethically immoral on all accounts. What's worse they are bargaining for "YES, YOUR MONEY" Because honestly teachers don't give a S$%t about where it comes from.

    September 14, 2012 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  16. impact09

    Is that no responses, or just none that you want to print.

    September 14, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  17. monte

    finaly, someone cut the tail off that rat.

    September 14, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  18. Kenney

    If you want your rights restored then pay us your money that you owe the afl-cio pres and the will be restored ,,,,,,more and more money out of there pockets to make the fat man fatter

    September 14, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  19. Jeb

    Ha ha!

    September 14, 2012 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  20. Tony

    This law is not going anywhere! The people spoke and the law will be upheld (again) by the Supreme Court.

    September 14, 2012 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  21. Kenney

    Thats the second ,moderation hmmmm,,,,,can we make it a third ? Lets see here,,,,

    September 14, 2012 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  22. DJESQ

    Unions are like buggy whips … at one time they were useful for Americans trying to get somewhere.

    September 14, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  23. Jerry

    Utterly horrible decision. Let's just hope it gets overturned on appeal.

    September 14, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  24. Namejim

    This is sad! We have decided this issue! Public unions should not and do not have this right! The public wiehed in and voted! We cant afford this public workers like the rest of us must livr within thier and our means! Plain and simple!

    September 14, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  25. Dnick47

    Hope WI returns to its Progressive roots and tosses Ryan next.... in fact toss him twice: once with Romeny and then kick him out of his Congressional seat.

    September 14, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
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