Judge strikes down Wisconsin's right-to-work law

The right-to-work law promoted by Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin was struck down Friday by a judge in Dane County. ABC affiliate WBAY reports:

The unions, including the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, United Steelworkers and International Association of Machinists, argued the law amounts to an unconstitutional seizure of their property because it allows workers who don’t pay union dues to still receive union benefits.

State attorneys argued the law is constitutional since it technically doesn’t take any money out of union coffers.

Judge William Foust agreed the law amounts to taking the unions’ property without just compensation, and that it violates the state constitution.


Attorney General Brad Schimel has announced plans to appeal the ruling and issued a statement saying, “We are extremely disappointed that the Dane County Circuit Court struck down Wisconsin’s right-to-work law, but we are confident the law will be upheld on appeal.”

Other statements on the ruling have been predictably split along party lines. Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the judge was legislating from the bench, “Once again a liberal Dane County judge is trying to legislate from the bench. No one should be forced to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. I’m confident that this decision will be reversed in a higher court and worker freedom will prevail.” But Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca said the ruling was “a victory for workers’ rights and middle class families.”

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation issued a statement predicting the judge’s ruling would be overturned on appeal:

Right to Work laws have been passed by 26 states and have been repeatedly upheld in state and federal court. However, that didn’t stop a lone Dane County Circuit Court judge from ruling against Wisconsin’s Right to Work law on extremely questionable grounds. According to the Court’s dubious reasoning, the State of Wisconsin cannot protect employees from union bosses who threaten to have them fired for refusing to pay dues or fees to a union they don’t support.

This isn’t the first time a Dane County Circuit Court judge has overreached. Another judge previously struck down Governor Scott Walker’s Act 10 public-sector union reforms, a decision that was decisively reversed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Contrary to the union’s misrepresentations which the judge disingenuously accepted, it is union bosses who choose to exercise monopoly control over all workers, including those who oppose the union and who feel they would be better off without union officials’ imposed ‘representation.’ Without Right to Work protections, the injustice that workers face by having an unwanted union imposed on them against their will is compounded by the injustice of being forced to pay a portion of their hard-earned paychecks to union officials they oppose.

Fortunately for Wisconsin workers, this Dane County judge’s ruling is not the final word on the matter. An appeal of this decision is certain, and we are confident that Wisconsin’s Right to Work law will ultimately be upheld by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.


The law known as Act 1 was enacted last March.

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David Strom 3:21 PM on December 01, 2023