Unions Lose Court Battle to Roll Back Gov. Walker's Collective Bargaining Reforms

A decision issued today by the 7th circuit Court of Appeals says collective bargaining reforms passed by Governor Scott Walker will stand.

Act 10 was the controversial reform law passed in Wisconsin in 2011 after weeks of protests and stalling by Democratic members of the legislature. Unions filed suit against the law seeking to have the court overturn it and were partially successful at the district court level. But today the Court of Appeals issued a decision in favor of the law and the Governor

Plaintiffs and cross-appellants, representing seven of Wisconsin’s largest public sector unions (the “Unions”), filed suit against defendants-appellants Governor Scott Walker and other state actors, challenging three provisions of the statute—the limitations on collective bargaining, the recertification requirements, and a prohibition on payroll deduction of dues—under the Equal Protection Clause. They also challenged the payroll deduction provision under the First Amendment. The district court invalidated Act 10’s recertification and payroll deduction provisions, but upheld the statute’s limitation on collective bargaining. We now uphold Act 10 in its entirety.

The passage of Act 10 was one of the most controversial political actions taken in 2011. At one point, Democratic legislators fled the state to prevent Republicans from forming a quorum. The Act was passed when they returned despite protests involving tens of thousands of angry union members who filled and surrounded the state house in Madison.

After the initial loss unions spent millions funding recall campaigns against state judges, legislators and Gov. Walker himself. Though they won a handful of races, Gov. Walker survived his June 2012 recall meaning Democrats were unable to overturn the law.


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