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UPDATE: Federal Appeals Court Upholds Wis. Union Limits

UPDATED Friday, January 18, 2013 --- 4:26 p.m.

Statement from AFSCME Wisconsin

in reaction to Act 10 Appeals Court decision

AFSCME members are disappointed by this decision. While we review the details and weigh our options with our leaders across the state, we want to make clear that the fight for worker rights continues. Federal courts are just one of the avenues we are using in our fight to give workers a voice. We will continue using every method and avenue open to us and will not rest until workplace rights are restored for all public service employees.

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UPDATED Friday, January 18, 2013 --- 3:00 p.m.

Statement from John A. Matthews, Executive Director of Madison Teachers Inc.:

Today’s decision by the U.S, 7th Circuit in Chicago, overturning the earlier decision by U.S. District Court Judge Conley, Wisconsin’s Eastern District, is disappointing, however, the basis of the suit in the federal case is different than the basis upon which MTI’s claim was made. Given this, the decision in the 7th Circuit Case reversing Judge Conley, has as its foundation criteria other than that upon which Judge Colas made his decision. The case in federal court was based primarily on Act 10’s prohibition of a Union’s ability to collect dues and fairshare monies (from non-members whom the Union is obligated to represent and who benefit from the terms and conditions of the Union’s Contract). MTI’s case in State Court, claimed Act 10 violates our members’ Wisconsin Constitutional Rights of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Assembly and Equal Protection; the latter because Act 10 left Union rights in tact for police officers and firefighters; thus denying equal protection to teachers as that extended to police officers and firefighters. Judge Colas’ ruled in favor of MTI, and the 7th Circuit decision does not negatively impact Judge Colas’ Decision. Judge Colas’ Decision in the MTI case remains in full force and effect.

Of note also is that the decision in the 7th Circuit Court was 2 -1, with a strong dissent. In my opinion, that leaves grounds for the Unions who advanced the case in federal court to seek a re-hearing before the entire 7th Circuit Court. It is likely that the federal case will proceed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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UPDATED Friday, January 18, 2013 --- 2:49 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A federal appeals court ruling upholding Wisconsin's law effectively ending collective bargaining for public workers is leading to a call for the state to pass a right to work law.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday upheld the law passed in 2011, while other court challenges are pending.

Still, National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix says the ruling should motivate the Republican-controlled Legislature to pass a right to work law like was done in Michigan last month.

He says "No Wisconsin public worker should ever be forced to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment."

Gov. Scott Walker has said he won't pursue right to work this year.

Copyright: Associated Press 2013

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republicans say a federal appeals court ruling upholding Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining law affirms their argument from the beginning that the law is constitutional.

However, a state court ruling from last year striking down the law for school district and local government workers remains in effect. Other lawsuits are also pending.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says he hopes Friday's ruling backing up the law will bring an end to the other lawsuits.

Statewide teachers union president Mary Bell says they are reviewing the ruling and their options. The decision can be appealed to the full 7th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Democratic opponents of the law say they are disappointed in the ruling.

Copyright: Associated Press 2013

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UPDATED Friday, January 18, 2013 --- 2:40 p.m.

WEAC statement on Act 10 ruling:

A federal appeals court Friday overturned a federal judge’s ruling declaring parts of Governor Walker’s Act 10 collective bargaining law unconstitutional.

The following can be attributed to Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council:

“Wisconsin educators are extremely disappointed with the appeals court ruling. What is so abundantly clear is that Act 10 was never about addressing the fiscal needs of the state but instead a ploy to eliminate workers’ rights to have a voice through their union – political payback for citizens who didn’t endorse the governor. This marks a setback, but the fact of the matter is that our members will not give up on their commitment to restoring their rights to negotiate for fair wages and safe working conditions.”

WEAC is in the process of reviewing the appeals court decision to determine the impact of this ruling and the organization’s next steps.

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UPDATED Friday, January 18, 2013 --- 2:20 p.m.

Statement by Senator Miller Regarding Act 10 Decision

Madison – “I am disappointed in the decision. Wisconsin has had a long tradition with freedom of association and was the earliest adopter of collective bargaining rights which resulted in relatively good relations between workers and public employers to the benefit of the people of Wisconsin.

While I had hoped for a different outcome from the courts, it shows that we have work to do.”

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Statement from Rep. Barca on appeals court's Act 10 ruling today

MADISON – Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) released the following statement today regarding the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling on Act 10:

"While the Seventh Circuit Court upheld Act 10 on narrow legal grounds, the court did acknowledge that Act 10 appears to be an act of favoritism for 'friends' and punishing enemies. While that approach may be legal, the Judge David Hamilton notes that 'the United States Constitution does not forbid all legislation that rewards friends and punishes opponents.'

"Given the recent focus on bipartisanship, now would be a good opportunity to move away from positions the court acknowledges are likely favoritism and punishment. We must find real solutions the Wisconsin way of sitting down together and rolling up our sleeves to tackle problems with all stakeholders to repair some of the damage that has been done by this law. We are not a state that should have laws in place to settle partisan vendettas."

From the decision written by Judge Flaum:

"As unfortunate as it may be, political favoritism is a frequent aspect of legislative action."

“Hearne v. Board of Education, 185 F.3d 770, 775 (7th Cir. 1999).
The court said, “there is no rule whereby legislation that otherwise passes the proper level of scrutiny . . . becomes constitutionally defective because one of the reasons the legislators voted for it was to punish those who opposed them during an election campaign.” Id. at 775. We went further stating,“[i]ndeed one might think that this is what election campaigns are all about: candidates run a certain platform, political promises made in the campaign are kept (sometimes), and the winners get to write the laws.”

>From the dissent written by Judge Hamilton:

“The United States Constitution does not forbid all legislation that rewards friends and punishes opponents. The principal provisions of Wisconsin’s Act 10 may fit that description, but they are still constitutional under the generous standard of rational-basis review.”

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UPDATED Friday, January 18, 2013 --- 1:21 p.m.

Statement from Governor Walker's Office:

Madison—Today, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rendered a decision in Wisconsin Education Association Council, et al. v. Walker, et al. Below is Governor Walker’s reaction to the decision:

As we’ve said all along, Act 10 is constitutional.

Today’s court ruling is a victory for Wisconsin taxpayers. The provisions contained in Act 10, which have been upheld in federal court, were vital in balancing Wisconsin’s $3.6 billion budget deficit without increasing taxes, without massive public employee layoffs, and without cuts to programs like Medicaid. With this ruling behind us, we can now focus on the next state budget, which will invest in priorities to move our state forward.

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UPDATED Friday, January 18, 2013 --- 1:14 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A federal appeals court has upheld Gov. Scott Walker's contentious law stripping most public workers of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights.

Seven public unions, including the teachers' union and the largest statewide public sector union, challenged the law's constitutionality in 2011. U.S. District Judge William Conley in March overturned part of the law requiring unions hold elections each year for members to retain their official status. The judge also said the law illegally halted the automatic withdrawal of union dues.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals released a decision on Friday that upheld the law in its entirety. The court said the law is constitutional.

Copyright: Associated Press 2013

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UPDATED Friday, January 18, 2013 --- 12:53 p.m.

From the Office of Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen:

MADISON — Earlier today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit entered a decision upholding 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 in its entirety. A link to the decision is available here.

Regarding the decision, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen stated: “For nearly two years, those opposing Act 10 have tried every angle to have it struck down and invalidated. Today’s decision by the Seventh Circuit confirms what I have stated from the beginning. Act 10 is constitutional. While there are no guarantees, it is my hope that this decision will pave the way for resolving any remaining challenges in a manner that supports the legislative decisions made by our elected officials.”

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UPDATED Friday, March 30, 2012 --- 4:10 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A federal judge has upheld most of Wisconsin's law curbing collective bargaining rights, but he sided with unions in at least one key area by saying union dues could automatically be withdrawn from public workers' paychecks.

The ruling Friday comes in a lawsuit filed by a coalition of unions fighting the law championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

A union attorney says the groups are weighing an appeal.

The lawsuit argues the law violates the U.S. Constitution because it strips collective bargaining rights from most -- but not all -- public employees.

U.S. District Judge William Conley rejected that argument but struck down other parts of the law, including its ban on automatic dues and its requirement that a majority of union members agree to stay organized in annual votes.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, March 30, 2012 --- 3:45 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A federal judge has upheld most of Wisconsin's law curbing collective bargaining rights, but he sided with unions in at least one key area by saying union dues could automatically be withdrawn from public workers' paychecks.

The ruling Friday comes in a lawsuit filed by a coalition of unions fighting the law championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Union attorneys declined immediate comment.

The lawsuit says the law violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution because it strips collective bargaining rights from most -- but not all -- public employees.

U.S. District Judge William Conley rejected that argument but struck down other parts of the law, including its ban on automatic dues and its requirement that a majority of union members agree to stay organized in annual votes.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.

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Posted Friday, March 30, 2012 --- 2:50 p.m.

A federal court has struck down portions of Wisconsin's law curbing collective bargaining rights, saying dues can be automatically withdrawn and annual certification votes can't be required.

The ruling Friday keeps the majority of the law pushed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker in place. A coalition of unions filed the lawsuit last summer shortly after the law was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The lawsuit argued that the law violated the U.S. Constitution by taking away union rights to bargain, organize and associate and illegally discriminates among classes of public employees.

U.S. District Judge William Conley in an order Friday rejected the argument that the law violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

But he ordered that automatic dues withdrawal be reinstated no later than May 31.

Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.


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