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Posted by on Sep 15, 2012 in Economy, Law, Politics | 4 comments

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Loses a Big One

Think Progress had this good news yesterday evening:

Wisconsin Judge Juan Colas ruled that Governor Scott Walker’s (R-WI) law eliminating collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions was unconstitutional under both the Wisconsin and United States constitutions. The law, which does not save the state any money but crushes the political and economic influence of unions, has been in effect for roughly one year. It is unclear, per ABC’s reporting, whether union restrictions will be suspended immediately pending a likely Walker appeal. …TP

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Governor Walker is sure the decision will be overturned. We’ll see. The judge’s decision covers a lot of territory:

A spokesman for Wisconsin Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said, “We believe the law is constitutional. We’re in the middle of reviewing the decision, but we anticipate we’ll be appealing promptly.”

The lawsuit was brought by the city of Madison teachers’ union and the city of Milwaukee laborers’ union. It is not clear how the ruling will affect the rest of the state.

“This is huge, we are ecstatic,” said John Matthews, head of the teachers’ union. “Now, all the problems that the union was facing are gone.”

“Although the statutes do not prohibit speech or associational activities, the statutes do impose burdens on employees’ exercise of those rights,” Judge Colas wrote. Parts of the law “single out and encumber the rights of those employees who choose union membership…solely because of that association.”

The judge also ruled the law violated the constitutional right of equal protection, because it treats union employees differently than nonunion employees.

The collective-bargaining law bars the city of Milwaukee from paying some of its employees’ retirement contributions. The judge ruled that part of the law unconstitutionally intruded on Milwaukee’s right to govern itself and unconstitutionally broke an existing contract. ..WSJ

Slate quotes from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s report:

“The ruling means that, unless it is overturned on appeal, school districts and local officials will have to return to the bargaining table with their workers in a much more significant way. The decision raises a host of questions about changes in pay, benefits and work rules that have taken place in the meantime while bargaining was essentially dead.” …MJS

Cross-posted from Prairie Weather

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