Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas made a decision “Madison Teachers, Inc. V. Scott Walker” to overturn portions of the Scott Walker’s signature 2011 Wisconsin Acts 10 and 32, passed in March 2011, to “collective bargaining, payroll deduction of dues and contributions to pension benefits with respect to municipal employees (including employees of local governments, school districts and special governmental districts. Wis. Stat. § 111 .70(l)(i) and U))”, declaring it unconstitutional. The judge found sections of the law “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.” Here are the sections of Act 10 that were declared unconstitutional:
- Wis. Stat. Sec. 66.0506: requiring a referendum for wage increases above the cost of living for represented municipal employees.
- Wis. Stat. Sec. 118.245: requiring a referendum for wage increases above the cost of living for represented school district employees.
- Wis. Stat. Sec. 111.70(1)(f): limiting fair share dues agreements to public safety and transit unions.
- Wis. Stat. Sec. 111.70(3g): prohibiting payroll deduction of dues for general employee unions.
- Wis. Stat. Sec. 111.70(4)(mb): prohibiting municipal employers from collectively bargaining with general employee unions on anything but wages.
- Wis. Stat. Sec. 111.70(4)(d)3: imposing certification and re-certification requirements on general employee unions.
The decision will be appealed. Walker’s lackey, Attorney General Van Hollen, busy trying to disenfranchise Wisconsin voters by trying to appeal the unconstitutional Act 23, now will try to do Walker’s dirty work with this decision.
MILWAUKEE (Reuters) – A Wisconsin judge struck down on Friday the state’s controversial collective bargaining law pressed by Republican Governor Scott Walker, ruling that it unconstitutionally limits the rights of many public sector union workers.
Walker responded to the ruling by saying that a “liberal activist judge in Dane County” wanted to take away the lawmaking responsibilities of the legislature and governor.
“We are confident that the state will ultimately prevail in the appeals process,” Walker said in a statement.
Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas ruled that the law passed by Wisconsin lawmakers in a contentious session in 2011 violated the union members’ free speech, association and equal protection rights in the state and U.S. constitutions.
Several statutes enacted or changed “single out and encumber the rights of those employees who choose union membership and representation solely because of that association” in violation of their free speech and association rights, Colas found.
It was unclear what immediate impact his ruling would have.
Numerous legal challenges have been pursued since the Republican-led legislature approved the collective bargaining law last year in a session aimed at fixing a budget deficit.
The law forced most state workers, including teachers, to pay more for health insurance and pensions, limited their pay raises, made payment of union dues voluntary and forced unions to be recertified every year.
The proposals spurred massive protests at the state Capitol in Madison and a union-backed effort to recall Walker. Walker easily survived a recall election in June and has become a champion of fiscal conservatives in his first term.
Walker released this pathetic, predictable, dog whistle drivel via Cullen Werbie, who linked with Walker in the continuing and expanding John Doe investigation:
The people of Wisconsin clearly spoke on June 5th. Now, they are ready to move on. 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.
A succinct legal analysis of the decision, which violated workers’ rights to free speech, free association and equal representation under the law on constitutional grounds, is made by PRWatch regarding Act 10:
The law singles out unions “solely because of the purposes for which the organizations are formed and the employees choose to associate.”
These restrictions violate employees’ free speech and associational rights, he found. “It is undisputed that there is no constitutional right to collective bargaining,” Judge Colas wrote, but once the government offers the right to associate and speak through forming a union, “it may not make the surrender or restriction of a constitutional right a condition of that privilege.”
Judge Colas also found that Act 10 also creates two classes of employees — those who are represented by a union and those who are not — and treats them differently, in violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The judge rejected challenges to Act 10 based on procedural questions, the City of Milwaukee’s “home rule” authority, and due process and contract claims.
Another very good legal observation shows some of the implications of the decision:
Since the decision came out just yesterday, it is too soon for me to comment on the full impact. Without reviewing both 2011 Wis. Act 10 and Act 32, I cannot state which parts of those laws are nullified by the decision. Here is what I can state:
1. The Walker Administration plans on appealing the decision.
2. The infringement on constitutional rights appears to be a question of first impression, because the decision does not cite any Wisconsin cases that discuss the issue. In which case, I would expect the appellate court to certify and send the matter directly to the Supreme Court or the Supreme Court may decide to review the matter directly.
3. The issue I am hoping will get addressed on appeal is whether public unions are being unconstitutionally disfavored by the State of Wisconsin or whether public sector collective bargaining rights, being created by statute, can be organized and regulated at will by the State.
4. The decision confirms that “public employees have the right to advocate, either individually or through an association, and also the association has a right to engage in advocacy on behalf of its members…A State may not invade that constitutional protection either by a general advance prohibition against certain forms of advocacy…or by attempting to punish the expression of views that it opposes.” See Hanover Township v. Hanover Community School Corporation, 457 F. 2d 456 (7th Cir. 1972). In other words, public employees have the right to associate and advocate and the State cannot punish them or disfavor them because of the advocacy.
However, what if the State legislated that it was going to unilaterally dictate wages and terms and conditions of employment for all of its employees? What if the State, school district, or municipal employer simply treated unions like any other special interest or advocacy group, to which it would listen to anything they wanted to discuss, but whose advocacy it was not bound to accept? What if a union wanted a 5% raise for its members but the State, without paying attention to union membership, rewarded its top performers with a 7% raise and only gave a 2% raise to all others? In upholding the rights of public sector union employees, I wonder if the decision also shows a path for minimizing the effectiveness of those rights.
5. If the decision is upheld, 2011 Act 10 may be gutted or its worst effects on public sector unions may be eliminated. While the decision provides an indication for how to constitutionally minimize the effectiveness of public sector unions, we do not know when the conditions would exist where the legislature and Governor could completely redesign the public sector collective bargaining framework to achieve such a goal. In the meantime, it is time to see how much of public sector collective bargaining reverted to what it was prior to the effective date of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10.
We need to be reminded just how the Fitzwalkerstan Cult broke Wisconsin opens meetings law to shove through this legislation, which Walker smiled as he signed later.
Representative Peter Barca, who tried to stop the Fitzwalkerstan Cult in the video, made this statement about today’s decision:
“This is a huge victory for Wisconsin workers and a huge victory for free speech. And this validates an earlier federal court decision that was made on equal protection and First Amendment grounds. This decision will help to re-establish the balance between employees and their employers.
“The decision gives us an opportunity to get back to the Wisconsin values of sitting down and working together to iron out differences, not taking away the constitutional rights of our citizens.”
“As we have said from day one, Scott Walker’s attempt to silence the union men and women of Wisconsin’s public sector was an immoral, unjust and illegal power grab,” said Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.
Walker either lied to Congress or told the truth that collective bargaining not being a part of his 2010 campaign as well as not affecting the Wisconsin budget.
Besides Walker and the Fitzwalkerstan Cult putting Wisconsin at the bottom of the nation with jobs lost and other failures, it’s not over yet. With the expanding John Doe investigation being a serious threat to Walker’s career, this decision is yet another benchmark that Walker’s failed policies are not working.
Walker will try to get the Wisconsin Supreme Court to sustain the anti-union law and overturn the decision and perhaps that court will show they side on being the “activist court” he so loves, as opposed to the “activist court” he disagrees with.
The Koch Brothers are certainly making another call to Walker. They must be disappointed!
The decision could be reversed by the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. Here is who is on the court and their general leaning politically. Whether they act in an “activist” manner favoring Walker is speculative at this point.
|Current justices on Wisconsin State Supreme Court|
|Name||Leans||First elected||Term expires|
|Shirley Abrahamson||Liberal||Appointed by Gov. Lucey, 1976||July 31, 2019|
|Ann Walsh Bradley||Liberal (choked by (Prosser)||1995||July 31, 2015|
|N. Patrick Crooks||Liberal||1996||July 31, 2016|
|David T. Prosser, Jr.||Conservative||Appointed by Gov.Thompson, 1998||July 31, 2021|
|Patience Roggensack||Conservative||2003||July 31, 2013|
|Annette Ziegler||Conservative||2007||July 31, 2017|
|Michael Gableman||Conservative||2008||July 31, 2018|