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Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin's Anti-Union Law

By Amy Cavanaugh in News on Sep 15, 2012 5:15PM

Yesterday a Wisconsin judge ruled that a state law limiting collective bargaining for local and school employees is unconstitutional.

Via the AP, Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled that the law violates both the state and U.S. Constitution. He wrote a 27-page ruling, in which he said that 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."

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal reported that under the law

both state and local governments were prohibited from bargaining with their workers over anything besides a cost-of-living salary adjustment. Other issues, such as health benefits, pensions, workplace safety and other work rules, were strictly off limits.

For local workers, all those issues can now be bargained. The ruling also restored local unions' ability to reach so-called fair share deals that require all workers within a given bargaining unit to pay union dues, even if they choose not to join.

The ruling also appeared to strike down for local workers a requirement that they pay half of the contribution to their pensions and, for workers within the state of Wisconsin health insurance system, pay at least 12% of their premiums. Those cost savings have been crucial for local governments and schools in dealing with the more than $1 billion in cuts in state aid over two years that Walker and GOP lawmakers passed last year to close a state budget hole.

The law, which Walker fought to push through last year, was later overturned by a Wisconsin circuit judge, then reinstated by the Supreme Court in June 2011.

Walker issued a statement yesterday and called Colas “a liberal activist judge.”

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 law making responsibilities of the legislature and the governor. We are confident that the state will ultimately prevail in the appeals process.