Published December 20, 2015
MADISON, Wis. — After three years of legal battles, the war for Gov. Scott Walker’s cornerstone public-sector collective bargaining reforms is over, with the state Supreme Court on Thursday upholding Act 10 in its entirety.
Altogether, it was a big day for conservative causes. Wisconsin’s high court also ruled in favor of the state’s controversial voter ID law, but that matter is far from settled.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-2 decision, with liberal Judge Patrick Crooks begrudgingly agreeing Act 10 is constitutional, put an exclamation point of approval on the public employee labor law that sent thousands protesters to the state Capitol and 14 Democratic senators fleeing across the state line in a bid to stop it.
All but one liberal Dane County judge had concluded Act 10, which holds wage negotiations to the rate of inflation, ends automatic union dues deductions, and requires annual union recertification votes, meets constitutional muster.
The lawsuit was originally brought by Madison Teachers Inc. and Public Employees Local 61, AFL-CIO.
The labor unions argued that Act 10 limited their ability to organize and right to speak under the First Amendment of the Constitution.
That position was upheld in 2012 by Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas, who argued that portions of Act 10 violated the constitution.
But the Supreme Court disagreed.
Justice Michael Gableman, who wrote in the majority opinion, asserted the unions’ “associational rights are in no way implicated by Act 10’s modifications to Wisconsin’s collective bargaining framework.” The labor unions, Gableman said, “remain free to advance any position, on any topic, either individually or in concert, through any channels that are open to the public.”