Tag Archives: Wisconsin

Wisconsin Act 10 (Budget bill) Upheld

Do you remember the Governor Walker’s Wisconsin anti-union bill?  Well, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals just upheld it.

As background, Governor Walker signed Act 10 which made its strongest impact on collective bargaining, compensation, retiring, health insurance, and sick leave of public sector employees.

The most-talked about change was to collective bargaining rights.  The bill limited collective bargaining to wages.  As you may know, unions often bargain on a plethora of topics – such as sick leave, vacation, pension, health insurance, funeral leave, discipline, training, retirement, lay offs, and so on.  Further, the bill out-right prohibited employers from collecting union dues and bargaining units would not be required to pay union dues.  However, some units were exempted: local law enforcement, state troopers, and inspectors.

In Wisconsin Educational Council v. Walker, ____F.3d___ (7th Cir. Jan. 18, 2013), the main challenge was based on equal protection.  The bill basically created 2 classifications of public employees: (1) public safety employees, and (2) general employees.  According to the bill, as stated previously, the limitations of collective bargaining rights were applied only to the general employees.

In the 74-page decision, the 7th Circuit Court held that the bill was constitutional.  The court held that the bill did not create view-point discrimination. The court explained that the different treatment was justified on the greater consequences of public safety worker strikes.

 

via Adjunct Law Prof Blog: Breaking News! 7th Upholds The Constitutionality of Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill.

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Filed under Appellate, employment, labor, legal decision, union, wage

Wisconsin labor fight heats up

Public school teachers filed a class action against a public school district that claims it can cut their pay at will and fine them up to $2,500 if they don’t sign their contracts on time.

The class action, which has a putative class size of 230 teachers, alleges that the school district’s contracts have illegal and unenforceable provisions.  For example, the contract allows

  1. The district to fire or reduced the pay and benefits of tenured teachers for vague and undefined reasons;
  2. The district can fine tenured teachers $1,000 to $2,500 if they don’t sign the contract by the time the school district wants it, or seek release from the contract.

The class action further claims:

  • The 2012-13 contracts illegally allow the district to “make salary adjustments ‘due to disciplinary action and/or changes in full-time equivalency warranted by the district,'” in violation of Wis. Stat. § 118.21;
  • The contracts illegally allow the district to cut salary and benefits “if in the sole discretion of the district, the educator fails to meet the expectations referenced in the contract, acts in a manner that is not in the best interests of the district’s students, fails to abide by the terms of the Employee Handbook, fails to carry out the duties and responsibilities of the job description, or if the district decides to reduce the professional staff for financial or other lawful reasons,” in violation of Wis. Stat. § 118.21, § 118.21, and state contract law; and
  • The contracts illegally set up “a liquidated damages schedule that begins assessing damages on June 1,” with fines beginning at $1,000, escalating to 2,500, for failing to sign contracts by June 15, or seeking release from contract; this “unlawfully assesses damages to teachers seeking release from their contracts prior to the statutory date for acceptance.”

The contracts state “that failure to return a signed contract … would result in non-renewal of the teacher’s contract,” the teachers say: “A stigma is attached to being non-renewed by a school district, as it suggests that a teacher’s employment was not continued for performance reasons or misconduct.”

The class cites violation of Wisconsin Statute 118.21, under which the school district must fix teachers’ wages, violation of Wisconsin Statute 118.22, under which the school district must set the contract acceptance date at June 15, and violation of Wisconsin Statute 118.23, under which it can terminate permanent only employees for good cause.

via Courthouse News Service.

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WI rejects anti-union bill

A state judge on Friday struck down Gov. Scott Walkers anti-union Budget Repair Bill, finding it unconstitutionally created separate classes of state workers, who are treated differently and unequally.     In a 27-page ruling, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan B. Colas found that 2011 Wisconsin Acts 10 and 32 “single out and encumber the rights of those employees who choose union membership and representation solely because of that association and therefore infringe upon the rights of free speech and association guaranteed by both the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions.”

Walkers Act 10 set off statewide protests and recall elections, and then nationwide copycat legislation. The bill stripped public workers unions of the power to negotiate anything but salary, and made it harder for them to retain certification – except for state patrol troopers and state patrol inspectors, who tend to vote Republican.

You can read the opinion here:  http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/09/17/WiscAct10Ruling.pdf

via Courthouse News Service.

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Federal judge strikes down part of Wisconsin union law

Federal Distrct Court Judge Conley struck down parts of the anti-union bill supported by Wisconsin Governor Walker.  The provisions that were struck were (1) requiring the re-certification of unions by a majority annually, and (2) making the payment of union dues voluntary.

The case is Wisconsin Education Ass’n Council, et. al, v. Scott Walker, et. al., 11-cv-428.  Plaintiffs (the Unions) challenged the anti-union bill (known as “Act 10”) on two grounds: Equal Protection and First Amendment. You may read the opinion here.

 

Via Federal judge strikes down part of Wisconsin union law – Yahoo! News.

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Filed under civil rights, labor, legal decision, Pending Legislation, union