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Wisconsin public employee collective bargaining statute amendments declared unconstitutional
September 15, 2012 by Ross Runkel at LawMemo

A teachers' union sought declarative and injunctive relief against the governor, claiming that statutory amendments dealing with municipal employees' collective bargaining rights and payroll deductions of dues and pension contributions were unconstitutional.

The trial court declared the statute unconstitutional. Madison Teachers v. Walker (Wisconsin Circuit Ct 09/14/2012)

(1) Certain portions of the statute violated the free speech clauses of the Wisconsin and US constitutions. Although there is no constitutional right to collective bargaining, the statute imposes burdens on the speech and associational rights of employees represented by unions which burdens are not imposed on other employees. They cannot negotiate wage increases greater than the cost of living, they cannot pay dues by payroll deductions solely because the dues go to labor organizations. A ban on fair share agreements means that union members bear the cost of bargaining for non-members who receive the befits of bargaining. Requiring unions to be recertified annually burdens members with the full costs of the election.

(2) The trial court applied strict scrutiny to the equal protection claims because of the infringement on speech rights. The statute creates two classes of employees (represented and non-represented), and the defendants "offer no defense of the statute that would survive strict scrutiny."

(3) Certain portions of the statute violated the Wisconsin constitution's home rule amendment, violated the constitutional bar on impairment of contracts, and deprived employees of property without due process.

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