Judge Juan B Colas of Dane County Circuit Court ruled late Friday on a 2011 anti-public-employee-union Wisconsin law, ruling most of it unconstitutional. The law was pushed through by Republican Governor Scott Walker. Known as Act 10, the law severely restricted union rights for public workers, nullifying most of the protections contained in Wisconsin’s fifty-year-old public employee collective bargaining law. Tens of thousands of municipal and school district employees will now regain their collective bargaining rights.
Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt stated: “As we have said from day one, Scott Walker’s attempt to silence the union men and women of Wisconsin’s public sector was an immoral, unjust and illegal power grab,” according to the Nation.
“This is a victory for women. Some 70% of public workers are women. Governor Walker tried to divide the public workers unions by taking away union rights for teachers, social workers, and nurses — most of whom are women — while keeping rights for fire fighters and police officers — many of whom are men. But it didn’t work…all public workers unions united against this outrageous act,” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Although this is a victory for unions, labor rights activists, and Wisconsinites, this year and a half long fight is not over yet. Walker released a statement immediately following the ruling, saying the state would appeal. Walker called the judge a “liberal activist” who was taking away “the lawmaking responsibilities of the Legislature and the governor.” The New York Times spoke to Andrew Coan, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, said that “it is well within the scope of a trail judge’s authority to issue an order declaring a state law unconstitutional.” The state will probably seek a stay in an attempt to delay the judge’s ruling from taking effect during the appeal process.
Media Resources: The Nation 9/14/12; Chicago Tribune 9/14/12; New York Times 9/14/12