Wisconsin Judge Strikes Down Union Law, Governor Vows Appeal

Posted September 14th, 2012 at 9:10 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

A Wisconsin judge has struck down the state's controversial collective bargaining law, saying the legislation championed by Governor Scott Walker unconstitutionally limits the rights of public sector workers.

Friday's circuit court ruling said the legislation, which triggered weeks of union protests last year in the state capital, violated union members' rights to free speech. It also said the law fails to uphold equal protection rights in the state and U.S. constitutions.

Governor Walker immediately responded to the local court ruling, calling the jurist a “liberal activist judge” who wanted to take away the lawmaking responsibilities of the state legislature and the governor. Walker also voiced confidence the legislation will be upheld on appeal. Several other legal challenges are also pending, and Friday's ruling was not expected to have any immediate impact on bargaining issues.

The union restrictions require public workers to pay more for health insurance and pension benefits, while taking away their rights to collective bargaining on those issues. It also limits collective bargaining on wages to increases no greater than the rate of inflation.

Anger over the law led to an effort to recall the governor from office. More than 900,000 signatures were collected on recall petitions, triggering a recall election in June that Walker won. He became the first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall election. Walker argued the restrictive legislation was needed at a time when Wisconsin faced a $3 billion budget shortfall.