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UPDATE: Supreme Court vacates contempt order in union case


UPDATED Thursday, November 21, 2013 --- 8:09 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Supreme Court has vacated a contempt order that had been issued against a state commission for moving ahead with implementing key portions of Gov. Scott Walker's law effectively ending collective bargaining for most public workers.

However, the Supreme Court declined Thursday to put on hold a lower court ruling from 2012 that found the law's restrictions were unconstitutional as they applied to a Madison teachers union and a Milwaukee public workers union.

The unions claim the ruling applies to all local unions statewide, but Walker's administration says it does not.

That issue remains pending before the Supreme Court.

All the court said was that a lower court judge was wrong to find the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission in contempt for preparing re-certification elections for hundreds of unions.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press
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UPDATED Monday, November 4, 2013 --- 4:22 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Wisconsin appeals court has refused to suspend a contempt-of-court finding against state labor relations officials for enforcing parts of Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining restrictions.

Judge Juan Colas ruled last year the provisions as applied to unions representing Madison teachers and Milwaukee public workers are unconstitutional.

The state Supreme Court is reviewing the case. Meanwhile state labor relations officials continued to prepare for re-certification elections for hundreds of other local public employee unions as per the restrictions, arguing Colas' ruling didn't apply statewide. Colas found WERC in contempt last month.

State attorneys asked the 4th District Court of Appeals to suspend the contempt ruling pending the Supreme Court's decision. But the court ruled Monday the state failed to show how delaying the elections would cause any harm.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, October 29, 2013 --- 3:47 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Supreme Court doesn't plan to decide whether to stay a Madison judge's ruling invalidating parts of Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining restrictions for a while.

Judge Juan Colas last year struck down the restrictions as they apply to local public unions. The Supreme Court plans to hear arguments in the case on Nov. 11.

Last week Colas found state labor relations officials in contempt for enforcing the restrictions regardless of his ruling.

State attorneys want the Supreme Court to stay Colas' 2012 ruling pending appeal and the 4th District Court of Appeals to stay the contempt ruling.

The appeals court plans to rule by Monday. The Supreme Court said Tuesday it won't move before the appeals court does and will hear stay arguments on Nov. 11 as well.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, October 28, 2013 --- 12:28 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A state appeals court says it plans to decide whether to block a contempt ruling against Wisconsin labor relations officials by next week.

Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas in 2012 found provisions of Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining restrictions unconstitutional as they apply to local public unions. But the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission has continued to prepare for certification elections for hundreds of unions next month regardless. Colas found WERC in contempt of court last week.

State attorneys asked the Supreme Court on Friday to stay the 2012 ruling pending an appeal. They also asked the 4th District Court of Appeals to stay the contempt finding.

The appeals court issued an order Monday saying it plans to rule by Nov. 4. It's unclear when the Supreme Court might rule.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Friday, October 25, 2013 --- 5:29 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Department of Justice is trying to put a hold on a Madison judge's ruling that parts of Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining restrictions are unconstitutional.

Agency attorneys asked the state Supreme Court on Friday to stay Judge Juan Colas' 2012 ruling invalidating provisions in the restrictions that affect local public unions. The Supreme Court already has agreed to review the decision but DOJ argues a stay would ensure that union re-certification elections take place next month as per the restrictions.

The agency also asked the 4th District Court of Appeals to stay a Colas ruling from earlier this week that found state labor relations officials in contempt of court for continuing to move ahead with the elections despite the 2012 ruling.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Friday, October 25, 2013 --- 5:25 p.m.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is seeking an emergency stay in an Act 10 case.

A release from Van Hollen's office says the stay is to allow union recertification elections to occur.

Union Lawyers filed contempt of court charges last month after The Wisconsin Employee Relations Commission began enforcing part of Act 10 that a Dane Co. judge had ruled unconstitutional.

Monday, the judge issued an injunction barring WERC from holding union elections it had planned for next month.

“Act 10 is, in all respects, constitutional,” Van Hollen is quoted in the release. “We look forward to a final resolution of the MTI case by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  Fewer than three weeks before the Supreme Court was to hear final oral arguments on the merits, however, the Circuit Court made a ruling and issued an order that effectively gives its decision under Supreme Court review statewide effect and dramatically alters the status quo.  These emergency motions request prompt relief from the state’s appellate courts.  Only if granted will school district employees be allowed to choose by election, this year, whether to have a collective bargaining agent and, if so, who it should be. ” 

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UPDATED Tuesday, October 22, 2013 --- 1:05 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin union leaders scored a victory when a Madison judge re-affirmed portions of Gov. Scott Walker collective bargaining restrictions are unconstitutional, but the ruling doesn't give unions any leverage to force concessions from employers.

Judge Juan Colas found state labor relations officials in contempt Monday for continuing to enforce provisions in the restrictions he ruled were invalid last year. The ruling means school districts and municipal employers must resume negotiations with unions that request it.

However, the ruling doesn't give unions the power to force employers into binding arbitration and public worker unions can't legally strike in Wisconsin. That means employers can still dictate contract terms.

The state Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the case next month. Conservative justices control the court and could restore the provisions.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, October 21, 2013 --- 3:12 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Madison judge has found Wisconsin labor relations officials in contempt of court for continuing to enforce portions of Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining restrictions.

Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled last year the restrictions were unconstitutional as applied to two unions representing Madison teachers and Milwaukee public workers. It's unclear whether the ruling applies to local government unions across the state, however, and the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission is still preparing to hold annual certification elections for more than 400 unions next month.

The unions' attorneys told Colas during a hearing Monday his decision does indeed apply statewide. WERC's attorneys countered Colas needed to issue an injunction to make it statewide.

Colas ruled his decision indeed applies statewide and issued an injunction barring WERC from holding the elections.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, October 21, 2013 --- 10:22 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Madison judge is scheduled to hear arguments over whether Wisconsin labor relations officials are in contempt of court for continuing to enforce portions of Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining restrictions.

Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled last year that the restrictions were unconstitutional as applied to two unions representing Madison teachers and Milwaukee public workers. It's unclear whether the ruling applies to local government unions across the state, however, and the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission is still preparing to hold annual certification elections for more than 400 unions next month.

Attorneys for six unions have asked Colas to hold WERC in contempt. He's expected to hear oral arguments Monday afternoon. It's unclear whether he'll rule at the end of the hearing or hand down a written decision later.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, September 24, 2013 --- 1:33 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A group of unions has asked a judge to hold Wisconsin labor relations officials in contempt of court for continuing to enforce parts of Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining restrictions.

A Madison judge ruled last year that the restrictions were unconstitutional as applied to two unions representing Madison teachers and Milwaukee public workers. The Wisconsin Employee Relations Commission has continued to prepare for union certification elections in November as prescribed in the restrictions regardless.

Six public employee unions asked Colas to block WERC's preparations. Judge Juan Colas said last week his ruling applies to everyone but refused to issue an injunction.

WERC has refused to stop the election preparations. The unions filed a contempt motion with Colas on Tuesday afternoon seeking $2,000 for each day the commission continues the work.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, September 23, 2013 --- 3:55 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin labor relations officials are refusing to stop enforcing provisions of Gov. Scott Walker's contentious public union restrictions on local government workers, brushing aside assertions that they're violating a court order.

A Madison judge last year found the restrictions unconstitutional as they applied to Madison teachers and Milwaukee public workers. It's unclear whether the ruling applies statewide, though. The Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission is moving ahead with union certification elections as prescribed in the restrictions.

The judge said last week his decision applies broadly but refused to order WERC to stop the elections. Six unions have threatened to try to hold WERC in contempt of court if it didn't stop the elections by Monday.

Commission Chairman James Scott said the panel doesn't believe it's violating any court order.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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Posted Monday, September 23, 2013 --- 11:37 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin labor officials are meeting behind closed doors to discuss a union threat to seek a contempt-of-court ruling against them if they don't stop enforcing parts of Gov. Scott Walker's public union restrictions.

A Madison judge last year found the restrictions unconstitutional as they applied to Madison teachers and Milwaukee public workers. It's unclear whether the ruling applies statewide, though, and the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission is moving ahead with union certification elections as prescribed in the restrictions.

The judge said last week his decision applies broadly but refused to block WERC from enforcing the restrictions. Six unions have threatened to try to hold WERC in contempt of court if it doesn't cease and desist by Monday.

The commission met in closed session Monday morning to discuss its next move.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


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