Huzzah: Appeals court upholds Gov. Walker’s collective bargaining reform law

posted at 5:31 pm on January 19, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

The drama has long since died down, but there are still ongoing challenges to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-balancing and public-sector union-disempowering reforms, as big labor will certainly use even its dying breaths to fight for their right to party. The legal battles will certainly continue, but Gov. Walker scored a win when a federal appeals court upheld his uber-controversial restrictions on public unions on Friday:

A federal appeals court on Friday upheld Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s contentious law stripping most public workers of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights in a decision hailed by Republicans but not undoing a state court ruling keeping much of the law from being in effect.

The decision marks the latest twist in a two-year battle over the law that Walker proposed in February 2011 and passed a month later despite massive protests and Senate Democrats leaving for Illinois in a failed attempt to block a vote on the measure.

The law forced public union members to pay more for health insurance and pension benefits, which Walker said was needed to address a budget shortfall. It also took away nearly all their bargaining rights.

Walker and Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who fought for passage of the bill, called the ruling a win for Wisconsin taxpayers.

There are still other lawsuits pending on the matter, but this, along with Michigan’s successful push for right-to-work laws in December, is the right kind of momentum for states possibly hesitating on adjusting their own union laws (heads up, Missouri!). With all of these GOP governors around, it certainly feels like the opportune moment, especially with unions losing steam like they did in Indiana earlier this week:

A federal judge on Thursday threw out a union’s lawsuit seeking to overturn Indiana’s “right to work” law, saying such a challenge should remain at the state level. …

The plaintiffs, Local 150 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, claimed the law, which bars companies and unions from negotiating contracts that require all employees to pay for representation, violated the constitution.

The law’s passage by the General Assembly in February 2012 was a major milestone in what has become a national tug of war over union rights.


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