Wisconsin Labor Union Law Upheld In Federal Court

Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker‘s collective bargaining reform law (Act 10) has survived yet another legal challenge and has once again been upheld in federal court.

US District Judge William Conley ruled that the measure, which among other things ended forced union membership in the public sector, did not violate the First Amendment rights of those members. “Under Act 10, general employees remain free to associate and represent employees and their unions remain free to speak; municipal employers are simply not allowed to listen,” the judge wrote. The law prohibits collective bargaining in the government sector on anything other than pay increases.

In January of this year, the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago, ruled that the entire law — including the ban on involuntary union dues deductions — was constitutional. You may recall that Wisconsin state senate Democrats abandoned their constitutional work stations in February 2011, and hid out in Illinois, to prevent a vote on Act 10 which was designed by Walker and his allies to prevent the state from going bankrupt as a result of jacked-up public sector pay, benefits, and pensions. It was finally voted into law about a month later.

There is at least one court challenge still pending that is scheduled to go before the Wisconsin Supreme Court soon.

The unions last year mounted a failed recall election against Gov. Walker. Recalls of other Republican office holders were only temporarily successful as both houses of the state legislature are back under GOP control. An effort to dislodge a perceived Scott Walker ally from the state supreme court also was defeated. Walker is the only governor in American history to survive a recall.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin labor law — particularly the end of the automatic dues deduction — has had a major ripple effect: “In the two years since Walker’s plan became law, tens of thousands of teachers and state and local workers have dropped out of their unions, according to a Journal Sentinel analysis of little-used federal financial records.” The Milwaukee city and county workers union reportedly has lost about 66 percent of its membership, while other Wisconsin public employee unions has seen their membership drop by 30 to 60 percent.

On September 12, Kenosha, Wisc., teachers voted to decertify their union, which was the third largest teachers union in the state.

[image credit: WisPolitics.com]