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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

7th Circuit Upholds Wisconsin Public Employee Union Law

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion upholding Act 10, the Wisconsin law that changed that state's public employee labor laws for some public employees.  Wisconsin Education Association Counsel v. Scott Walker (January 18, 2013). The law, requiring annual recertification votes and prohibiting payroll deductions of union dues, was controversial from the start, resulting in protests at the Wisconsin state capital and causing a number of Wisconsin state legislators to hide out in Illinois in an effort to block a vote on the legislation. 
Public employee unions had filed suit to challenge Act 10 on a variety of grounds, including claims that the Act violated the Equal Protection Act because it treats public safety employees and other employees differently and the First Amendment because the Act targeted employees that were not political supporters of Governor Walker.  The district court found certain provisions in the Act unconstitutional including the recertification requirements and the prohibition on payroll deductions.
On appeal, the Seventh Circuit upheld the entire Act, reversing the district court’s invalidation of the recertification and payroll deduction provisions.  Despite the Seventh Circuit’s ruling, the future of Act 10 is still in question after a Wisconsin court struck down parts of the law last fall.  The state case is now before the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.
Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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