Madison Teachers, Inc. v. Walker
Type of Case: Act 10; First Amendment; Equal Protection; Wisconsin Constitution
Court: Dane County Circuit Court; District IV Court of Appeals; Wisconsin Supreme Court
Filed On: August 18, 2011
Current Status: Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld Act 10
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.
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.