Wisconsin Education Association Counsel v. Walker

Type of Case: Act 10; First Amendment; Equal Protection

Court: W.D. Wisconsin District Court; Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Number: 2011-CV-428; 12-2011

Filed On: June 15, 2011

Current Status: Seventh Circuit held Act 10 constitutional

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.

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