MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011 law curtailing collective bargaining privileges for most state employees was once again upheld in federal court this week, further dissolving Big Labor’s legal arguments against the law.
U.S. District Court Judge William Conley dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday initiated by two Wisconsin unions that claimed the law, known as Act 10, violated free speech and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution, the Leader-Telegram reports.
In his ruling, Conley wrote Act 10 doesn’t violate the constitution because it doesn’t bar public employees from associating with their union or hinder their union’s ability to speak out. Laborers Local 236 and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 60 – the plaintiffs in the case – “failed to state a claim for relief under either the First or Fourteenth Amendments,” Conley wrote.
“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,” Conley wrote, according to the news site.
In a separate but related lawsuit last year, Conley ruled some provisions of Act 10 unconstitutional, specifically an annual union recertification requirement and the end to automatic dues deductions. That ruling, however, was overturned by the 7th U.S. District Court of Appeals, according to media reports.
Conley’s recent ruling means Act 10 has thus far survived all legal challenges in the federal courts, although another state lawsuit is pending before the Wisconsin Supreme Court and many believe Big Labor will appeal this week’s federal court decision.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said Wednesday’s ruling serves as vindication for Act 10, and he expects a similar outcome on the state court level.
“This case proves, once again, that Act 10 is constitutional in all respects and that the challenges to the law are baseless,” Van Hollen wrote in a prepared statement, according to The Business Journal of Milwaukee. “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.”
There is no timeline for the state Supreme Court Case, the Leader-Telegram reports.
Katy Lounsbury, union attorney in the federal case, said she’s unsure if her clients will appeal Conley’s decision.
By Victor Skinner at EAGnews.org
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