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. Kenney

    And do i hear 4th ???going going GONE !!!!!for a 4th

    September 14, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  2. Chewer

    The politically protected are considered as "The workers" and as such deserve protection by all tax payers!

    September 14, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  3. Kenney

    You have got to be kidding me @@@@@@@@NSAIDI what did i do ?

    September 14, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  4. Alan

    Just like an union spokemen's, saying the union right's were violated. I suppose if a person didn't want to join a union, he would be harass to either join or quit. I was shafted by a union many years ago as they didn't want their members to take a pay cut when new management was taking over a failing company. So guess what everyone lost their jobs and benefits, that is except the union leaders. This is why I HATE unions and always will.

    September 14, 2012 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  5. Romney 1040 or Obama 2012.

    If corporations are people then is it any surprise that PEOPLE are people too? I guess it is in Wisconsin where they think it's OK to allow corporations to have collective power but not citizens.

    September 14, 2012 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  6. Judger333

    Judges have way too much power in this society. One crackpot can overturn the will of many.

    September 14, 2012 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  7. kathy/Minnesota

    Well I guess WALKER,REINCE,AND RYAN WON'T BE SLAPPING HIGH FIVES TONITE. LOL

    September 14, 2012 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  8. Namejkane sfl a vote for the gop will cut your moms medicare and soc sec .can you afford to pay for them???

    Hay people ,are you going to stand by while the gop goof party continues to try to strip you of your union rights and your voting rights and steal your mom and dads Medicare and soc sec ?????all you have to do is take one look st these gop phonys,romney the tax cheat and lyin Ryan the bribe taker in his home state ,does 60,000 dallars ring a bell Ryan ,???vote for these two crooks who have been living off the tax payers. Ryan ,living off his 175,000 dallars a year salary while trying to cut yours ,free healthcare for him and his family while he tries to cut your mom and dads !!!!!take one look at them !!!!! Do you trust them with your parents lives ??????I know the oil lobby and rover nitwitquest trust them for more tax breaks at your expense ,so be a sucker and vote Ryan romney from the. Cancer on America gop !!!

    September 14, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  9. Beau

    Walker needs to gtfo and quit ruining this state

    September 14, 2012 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  10. Mike L

    What causes fight and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within? You want something but you don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you do ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:1-4)
    Who is wise and understanding among you? let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom is earthly unspiritual and devilish. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every evil practice. But wisdom that comes from Heaven is first of all pure; then piece-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:13-18)
    Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the son and daughters of God. (Matthew 5:5, 7-9).
    The acts of the sinful nature are obvious:....Hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions....Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
    My friends, the answer to all the ills of the human race will never be found in federal or state government or even in unions. Rather, the answer can only be found in Jesus Christ. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, the life"..... (John 14:6)

    September 14, 2012 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  11. Mike Buck

    Welocme to the Theocracy Empire of America (TEA) Party

    September 14, 2012 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  12. stingerhp

    Regardless of the law, you can always find someone who will side with you on your complaint..Its like a poll taken on who you would or would not vote for..Just another way to prolong the inevitable and keep noisy people in the spotlight..15 minutes of fame is so dear to some............

    September 14, 2012 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  13. wisconsin 101

    ITs all about the money for the union bosses. The workers can still belong to the union but will have to pay via their own checking instead of payroll deductions. No one is blocking their right to organize. However many members have refused to send money to the union. That can only mean they do not want to belong & where forced too before the law. The judge is correct that this is a local affair but since union strike accross locals, they are the ones that make it a state affair. Walkers law makes it easier for locals to deal locally with local unions. Unions source of power only comes from being able to affect the masses and thus are thugs. Walker is correct that the people of WI spoke (twice) that they want the public workers to stop raping the taxpayers.

    September 14, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  14. Hadenuffyet

    As it should be . Failure to bargain in good faith in lieu of a heavy handed political edict isn't really representative of the democratic process is it.

    September 14, 2012 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  15. Dave

    I am so NOT surprised that Juan Colas wears the Yoke of the democrat plantation. I suppose he thinks he can rescue the Obama vote in Wisconsin. What a rube.

    September 14, 2012 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  16. jayman419

    Detroit.

    Union built.

    September 14, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  17. fableanne

    How many stopped paying in their union dues, guess they hate theft of their wages.

    September 14, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  18. Paul Laffert

    Public Employee Unions are robbing taxpayers blind. Public sector workers enjoy essentially free benefits an bulletproof pensions. This is unlike the private sector (those who pay the taxes that make the above possible) who pay significant portions of their healthcare premiums and are at constant risk of having their retirement savings disappear with the next wall street collapse. It is laughable that public sector employees expect sympathy and support from the private sector.

    Imagine retiring at 44 with a $60,000/year bulletproof pension that will never run out and will actually get cost of living increases, all on the taxpayers dime. That is a real scenario I have firsthand knowledge of. It is not theoretical. It is unbelievable.

    September 14, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  19. twin1994

    Wisconsin is screwed up. Not a state to lead.

    September 14, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  20. American spirit

    Excellent news. Great win for the working men and women.

    September 14, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  21. Tom in San Diego

    This is not at all surprizing. Here in California for decades the will of the voting public is ALWAYS overturned in the courts. In this case, if the courts position stands and stays standing, the only out for the tax payer to not be held hostage to pensions and union domination of ones right to work with or without them is ultimately bankrupcy...
    Personally, I think that they simply have to pass a law that says after the budget is no longer in balance, NO TAX can be raised and NO MANDATE can be paid...that will end up in bankrupcy..And the Unions at that point will be put 100% out of business...ONE HUNDRED PERCENT!

    September 14, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  22. FishtownYo

    Way to go unions! Stand together, you win. Stand alone, you lose.

    September 14, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  23. Gavin

    Judge needs one to the head

    September 14, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  24. Balls McGhee

    hahahahahaha!!!!! Walker got served!

    September 14, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  25. Brian

    Where has our work ethic gone? So goes this nation.

    September 14, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
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