Case Name: WEAC v. Walker

Type of Case: First Amendment, Equal Protection, government employment

Court: U.S. District Court - E.D. Wisconsin; U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

Case #: 2011-CV-428 (District Court), 12-2011 (Circuit Court of Appeals)

Filed on: June 15, 2011

Current status: Seventh Circuit held Act 10 constitutional

Case Name: Laborers Local 236, AFL-CIO v. Walker

Type of Case: First Amendment, Equal Protection, government employment

Court: U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin

Case #: 2012-CV-462 (District Court), 13-3193 (Circuit Court of Appeals)

Filed on: July 6, 2011

Curent status: Seventh Circuit held Act 10 constitutional

Case Name: Madison Teachers Inc. v. Walker

Type of Case: First Amendment, Equal Protection, Wisconsin constitutional, government employment

Court: Dane County Circuit Court; Wisconsin Court of Appeals; Wisconsin Supreme Court

Case #: 2011-CV-3774 (Circuit Court); 2012-AP-2067 (Merits Appeal); 2013-AP-2405 (Contempt Appeal)

Filed on: August 18, 2011

Current status: Wisconsin Supreme Court held Act 10 constitutional

Case Name: Wisconsin Law Employment Association v. Walker

Type of Case: First Amendment, Equal Protection, Wisconsin constitutional, government employment

Court: Dane County Circuit Court; Wisconsin Court of Appeals

Case #: 2012-CV-4474 (Circuit Court); 2013-AP-2653 (Appeal)

Filed on: November 13, 2012

Current status: Circuit Court held Act 10 constitutional; Unions appealed; Stayed pending Madison Teachers decision

Case Name: Rosno v. Scott

Type of Case: Act 10, Employee Rights, Recertification Elections

Court: Waukesha County Circuit Court

Case #:  2013-CV-2473

Filed on: October 29, 2013

Current status: Stipulated judgment entered

Case Name: Lacroix v. Kenosha Unified School District

Type of Case: Act 10, Employee Rights

Court: Kenosha County Circuit Court

Case #: 2013-CV-1889

Filed on: November 21, 2013

Current status: School district conceded defeat; case held pending MTI v. Walker decision

Case Name: KEA v. WERC

Type of Case: Act 10; Union recertification

Court: Kenosha County Circuit Court

Case #: 2014-CV-214

Filed on: February 13, 2014

Current status: Case held pending MTI v. Walker decision

Governor Scott Walker’s 2011 reforms turned the realm of public sector employment relations upside down.  2011 Wisconsin Act 10 removed most collective bargaining privileges from the vast majority of state, county, and local employees.  Specifically, for all government employees except those in an expressly defined “public safety” class, Act 10 did four major things: it (1) prohibited collective bargaining on all topics except base wage increases not to exceed the rate of inflation; (2) prohibited so-called “fair share” agreements which force unwilling employees to pay union dues; (3) required bargaining representatives to stand for re-certification elections every year and earn a majority of votes from all represented employees; and (4) prohibited employees from paying their union dues through payroll deductions.

Various unions filed four lawsuits, asserting numerous constitutional challenges to those changes.  In each, WILL has partnered with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation to represent government employees who object to union representation, helping to defend Act 10.  Because these government employees have interests and rights that are not adequately represented either by the State or the unions, we have filed amicus briefs or sought to intervene as full-fledged parties in each case.

The judge in the WEAC case issued an opinion upholding the majority and most important parts of Act 10 while striking down the annual recertification requirement and prohibition on dues deductions.  The judge also denied WILL’s clients’ motion to intervene.  All parties appealed the judge’s decision to the Seventh Circuit and oral argument occurred September 24, 2012.  On January 18, 2013, the Seventh Circuit reversed in part and affirmed in part, upholding all of Act 10 but agreeing that the circuit court properly denied WILL's clients' motion to intervene.

The judge in the Laborers case (the same judge as in the WEAC case) in September, 2013, granted the State's motion to dismiss the case, finding that Act 10 did not violate union members' freedom of association and did not unconstitutionally discriminate between represented and non-represented employees.  The unions appealed, and Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court, reject all of the unions' arguments and upholding Act 10.

In the MTI case, Judge Juan Colas granted summary judgment to the unions, striking down the heart of Act 10's reforms as applied to local government (county, municipal, school district, etc.) employees.  He also struck down the requirement that City of Milwaukee employees pay the employee share of pension contributions.  On appeal, the court of appeals certified the case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, where Oral argument was held in November, 2012.  While the case was pending before the supreme court, several non-party unions filed a motion in circuit court seeking contempt against WERC for going forward with recertification elections.  WILL filed an amicus brief opposing that motion.  The circuit court held WERC in contempt, although a month later the Wisconsin Supreme Court vacated that contempt order.

On July 31, 2014, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reversed Judge Colas, upholding Act 10 in its entirety.

After the partial success of the MTI case, the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association filed a lawsuit copying the successful allegations of MTI.  However, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Markson, held that Act 10 was constitutional, dismissing the union's case. The unions have since appealed, but the Court of Appeals stayed that case pending resolution of Madison Teachers.

In order to preserve the rights of teachers statewide under Act 10 in response to Judge Colas's contempt ruling, WILL filed a lawsuit in Waukesha County on behalf of five public school teachers, seeking a declaration at Colas's rulings cannot affect those teachers' right.  Specifically, the teachers asked the Waukesha County Circuit Court to order WERC to hold recertification elections for their unions, and alternatively ask that if elections are not held, the judge declare that they no longer have a collective bargaining representative.  After the supreme court vacated the MTI contempt order, WERC agreed to a stipulated judgment requiring them to hold recertification elections for teacher unions statewide.

Seeking to take advantage of the confusion caused by Judge Colas' contempt order, the Kenosha Education Association entered into hurried negotiations with the Kenosha School District, creating a collective bargaining agreement that ignores Act 10's requirements.  On behalf of a Kenosha taxpayer and a Kenosha teacher, we filed a lawsuit seeking to declare that contract void.  Although the judge denied our request for a temporary injunction, he also denied the district's and union's motions to dismiss and ruled that despite Judge Colas' ruling in MTI v. Walker, Act 10 applied to Kenosha.  In April, 2014, KEA raised a cross-claim against the district seeking to enforce the dues deduction terms of the contract and collect approximately $750,000 from the district.  The judge dismissed that claim for failing to abide by statutory notice of claim requirements.  In June, 2014, the district conceded that the contracts were illegal and agreed to a stipulated judgment.  The case remains pending against the unions, but has been held up until the supreme court decided MTI v. Walker.

After obtaining a ruling from one Kenosha County Court judge that Act 10 would apply to it, KEA filed another action in Kenosha County, suing WERC alleging that WERC's actions in decertifying KEA were illegal because Act 10 is unconstitutional.  Our clients in the Lacroix case objected to KEA's blatant forum shopping and attempt to derail an already-proceeding case by filing another case addressing the same issue, and the judge in that case stayed the case pending the supreme court decision in MTI v. Walker.