Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s 2011 legislation curbing the collective bargaining rights of some public unions and not others was upheld in its entirety by a U.S. appeals court panel.
It basically puts the labor movement in a state of confusion for the moment now that such a momentous and possibly final outcome has been reached in Wisconsin courts.
In a 74-page decision issued last Friday, the Chicago-based court reversed a Milwaukee federal judge’s finding last year that portions of the law were unconstitutional.
The parts of the law known as Act 10, requiring annual recertification votes and barring the voluntary deduction of dues, don’t violate constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law and free speech, the appeals court said.
As U.S. Circuit Judge Joel Flaaum said, “We now uphold Act 10 in its entirety,” writing for the majority opinion.
U.S. Circuit Judge David Hamilton wrote the partial dissent. Breaking with the majority, he said employee deductions are unfair based on it being “for some public employee unions but not others.”
As expected, the legislation had sparked protests outside the state’s Capitol and a recall election in June, in which Walker defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, his Democratic challenger, by a wide margin.
Gov. Walker triumphantly said after the opinion, “Today’s court ruling is a victory for Wisconsin taxpayers.” The provisions in Act 10 “were vital in balancing Wisconsin’s $3.6 billion budget deficit without increasing taxes, without massive employee layoffs, and without cuts to programs like Medicaid,” he said.
The Wisconsin Education Association Council last year sued in federal court in Madison, the state’s capital city, seeking to overturn the law and saying it was politically motivated and discriminatory.
The appellate panel heard arguments on Sept. 24.
It marks yet another severe blow to organized labor unions and their ability to force employees to join unions. Indiana and Michigan are two major states that have followed Wisconsin’s footsteps.
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