State Supreme Court to rule on constitutionality of Act 10

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by Chris Patterson

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Supreme Court announced they will review a legal challenged to Act 10 more commonly known as the collective bargaining law. This is the latest chapter in a two year battle between public unions and state lawmakers who voted to limit collective bargaining for public unions.

Wisconsin's collective bargaining law was the subject of a political fight over the 2011-2013 budget proposed by Governor Scott Walker. The law prohibits public employee unions from negotiating anything, but base pay with municipal employers. The law also makes paying union dues optional for public employees.

The controversial law led to lawsuits from several organizations, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court chose to take up the legal challenge made by Madison Teachers Inc.

A Dane County Circuit Court judge found the following parts of Act 10 unconstitutional:

  • Prohibiting collective bargaining on anything, but base wages.
  • Limits to negotiated base wage increases.
  • Strips mandatory payment of union dues.
  • Prohibits unions from taking dues from member paychecks.

The state argued public employees have no constitutional right to collectively bargain. According to the state, Act 10 does not impose any restrictions on a public employee's constitutional right to speak, assemble or petition the government.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals overturned the ruling from the circuit court saying Act 10 leaves constitutional rights untouched. The appellate court said Act 10 deals with statutory rights, and not constitutional rights.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen released a response to news of the Supreme Court's announcement:

“I continue to believe Act 10 is constitutional, and I am pleased the Wisconsin Supreme Court will consider our arguments.  I look forward to the Court’s prompt resolution of this litigation so that we can move forward.”

 

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