A federal judge has ruled Governor Scott Walker’s controversial collective bargaining reform law is constitutional. The legislation strips nearly all collective bargaining powers from most state and local public employee unions.
Federal Judge William Conley of Madison struck down arguments made in one of several lawsuits filed against Act 10 — this one from Madison and Dane County employees. He says, “plaintiffs have failed to state a claim for relief under either the First or Fourteenth Amendments.”
The unions said, in part, the law violates their constitutional rights to associate, assemble and express their views.
However, Conley says, under Act 10, “general employees remain free to associate and represented employees and their unions remain free to speak; municipal employers are simply not allowed to listen.”
The unions also argue “equal protection violation based on the differential treatment of general employees as compared to public safety employees.”
Conley says the equal protection clause does not apply. The judge says it’s legal for the government to treat union workers differently from those not in unions with respect to bargaining over wages and conditions of employment.
In a statement, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says, “This case proves, once again, that Act 10 is constitutional in all respects and that the challenges to the law are baseless. I appreciate decisions like this that follow the law, and I look forward to bringing the remaining state court challenges before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, where we expect Act 10 to be upheld once again.”
Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt issued a statement on the ruling:
“This is a disappointing ruling for all workers in the state of Wisconsin. In America, workers have the right to join a union and with one stroke of his pen Gov. Walker decimated that right. Act 10 always has and always will infringe upon a worker’s right to collective bargaining and democracy in the workplace. Gov. Walker’s divide and conquer strategy is stagnating wages for all workers, furthering the income gap between the rich and the poor and swelling our state’s jobs deficit. Gov. Walker was elected to create jobs; instead he attacked workers’ rights and Wisconsin’s middle class.”