July 23, 2014

Judge strikes down Walker’s collective bargaining law

A Dane County judge has overturned a state law that limits the collective bargaining powers of public employees. The decision by Judge Juan Colas on Friday strikes down the controversial law, which stripped many public workers of their ability to collectively bargain over pay, benefits and workplace rules. The judge declared that provisions of the law are unconstitutional, so the measure can no longer be enforced.

The Department of Justice is expected to appeal the decision while, in a statement, Governor Scott Walker said “a liberal activist judge in Dane County wants to go backwards and take away the lawmaking responsibilities of the legislature and the governor.” Walker added that he believes the decision will be overturned on appeal.

In his decision, the judge sided with arguments from the Madison Teachers union and the Milwaukee AFL-CIO chapter, who claim the collective bargaining law infringes on their right to free speech and association, along with violations of the equal protections clause of the constitution. The ruling also found the law violates Milwaukee’s home rule rights and the contract rights of city employees, and the legislative process denied workers of property without due process.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) called the decision a “huge victory for Wisconsin workers and a huge victory for free speech,” saying it validates earlier rulings and will help to re-establish the balance between employees and their employers.

The ruling is not the first to strike down the law. The Supreme Court already once before overturned a previous decision that blocked enforcement of the law because of how it was passed. A federal court has also struck down portions of Act 10, although most provisions remained in place. This latest ruling means the law could once again make its way before the state’s high court.