Federal appeals court upholds Act 10Wisconsin News
-- A federal appeals court has upheld the law which strips most public workers in Wisconsin of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights.
MADISON - A federal appeals court has upheld the law which strips most public workers in Wisconsin of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights.
It’s the latest showdown in the two-year battle over the change Governor Scott Walker put on the table in February 2011, passed a month later despite huge protests and a group of Senate Democrats traveling to Illinois in a failed attempt to head off a vote. There are still several other lawsuits pending over the controversial Act 10. One is being considered by a state appeals court.
Leaders of the National Right to Work Foundation say Friday's ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals should lead the Republican-controlled Legislature to pass a right to work law. Foundation President Mark Mix says his organization would like to see a right to work law like the one passed in Michigan last month. Mix says no public worker in the state should be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment.
Governor Scott Walker has said he has no plans to pursue right to work legislation in this session.
However, a Dane County court ruling is still in place, which threw out the bargaining changes for local governments and public schools. A state appellate court is still reviewing that action. Early last year, Federal Judge William Conley of Madison tossed out parts of the law which barred public employers from withholding union dues from workers’ paychecks. And Conley dropped the requirement that most public unions hold recertification votes every year. But the Chicago appellate judges restored all the actions that Conley threw out. The appellate judges said quote, “We now uphold Act 10 in its entirety.” Appeals Judge David Hamilton gave a partial dissent. He said the state could not prohibit payroll deductions for union dues as long as police-and-fire unions are exempt from that provision and all others in Act-10.
State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said the appeals court confirmed his contention that Act-10 is constitutional. Seven public unions – including the state’s largest employee union and the WEAC teachers’ union – filed suit in 2011 to challenge the law’s constitutionality. An attorney for the plaintiffs wanted to further examine the ruling before making a comment. State Senate Republican Luther Olsen of Ripon said he hoped today’s ruling would encourage the state appeals court to reinstate all of Act-10 as well. The Dane County ruling still required local-and-school employees to pay more toward their retirement and health insurance.