By Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel
A federal court of appeals has upheld Gov. Scott Walker's legislation repealing most collective bargaining for most public employees, though a separate case remains ongoing at the state level.
Last year a federal judge in Madison largely upheld the legislation but struck down parts of the legislation dealing with prohibitions on government employers withholding union dues from workers' payrolls as well as a section requiring labor unions to vote to recertify yearly. The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago reversed that lower court's ruling in a split decision Friday that upheld the law in its entirety.
"The district court invalidated Act 10's recertification and payroll deduction provisions, but upheld the statute's limitation on collective bargaining. We now uphold Act 10 in its entirety," the decision reads.
State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen praised the decision in a statement.
“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," Van Hollen said. "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.”
Judge David F. Hamilton dissented in part, saying he believed part of the collective bargaining law violated the First Amendment. Hamilton argued the state could not bar some unions from having their dues deducted from paychecks while it allowed public safety unions to do so.
Hamilton concurred with the rest of the decision.
Voting to uphold the law in its entirety were Judges Joel M. Flaum and William J. Bauer. Flaum wrote the opinion.
A judge in Dane County last year also struck down parts of the union law and that case is on appeal and is not affected by he federal ruling Friday.
A spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker had no immediate comment.
One attorney for the plaintiffs had no immediate comment Friday, saying she had to look at the decision.
Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) praised the ruling.
"We knew that this would happen when you get judges that look at the law, not the politics," he said.
He said he was hopeful the decision would provide momentum for overturning the Dane County decision that blocks portions of Act 10.