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.