Monday, April 02, 2012

The core of Act 10 survives

On Friday, the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin upheld the core of Act 10's reform of collective bargaining, i.e., it upheld the Act's prohibition of collective bargaining on terms and conditions of employment other than total base wages. It upheld the limitation on increases in collectively bargained base wages. It upheld the right of public employees to decline to support the union.

The only aspects of Act 10 that it found unconstitutional were the requirement of annual recertification elections and the prohibition of payroll deductions to collect dues from those employees who choose to pay them. The state could adopt either of these provisions, the Court recognized, but held that it could not adopt them for only those public employees who are not public safety workers (essentially police and fire.)

This is, largely, a victory for the defendants and you can be sure that the plaintiffs will appeal. Because of that, I am not going to write much about it. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty represented a group of public employees who moved to intervene in the case as defendants and to file an amicus brief. Friday's decision denied the former motion (there are currently, in any event, no further proceedings in the district court into which to intervene) and granted the latter motion. Because the case may continue at the appellate level,  there is only so much that I feel free to say in a blog.

There is, however, one fact that ought to be kept in mind when reading press reports of the case. It is not quite right to say that Act 10 exempted only public employees whose unions supported Governor Walker. The only public employee unions that supported Walker were the police and fire unions in West Allis and Milwaukee. The union representing all other police and fire employees - over 70% of the total - endorsed Barrett.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Without commenting on the merits of this particular case, what would happen if Act 10 were overturned at the appellate level and the Walker recall were successful? Could a new (presumably Democrat) Governor forbid the Attorney General (currently a Republican) from pursuing further appeals and essentially accept that Act 10 is nullified, or does the Attorney General have standing on his own, as a Constitutional Officer, to continue the appeallate process?