Late Friday afternoon, March 30th, a federal judge in Madison ruled that portions of Act 10--Gov. Scott Walker's union busting law that stripped collective bargaining rights for most public employees--are unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution and that the new law violated the union members' First Amendment rights.
U.S. District Judge William Conley found that the portions of the bill that denied workers payroll deduction for union dues and that required yearly, absolute majority recertification elections were unconstitutional. The judge also ordered that public employers must re-instate payroll deduction of union dues after May 31, 2012.
Our labor attorneys are reviewing the decision and will give us more guidance soon. Also, there is a strong possibility that the Walker administration will appeal the decision to the 7th Circuit Court and ask that the decision be put on hold until that court makes a ruling. If the ruling stands, it will mean that none of WFNHP's public sector locals will have to go through certification elections. The local union will be reinstated as the bargaining agent for all seven WFNHP locals with expired contracts (regardless of the elections or lack of an election) and the remaining locals will not have to have elections when their current contracts expire. In addition, it is likely members can once again use payroll deduction to pay their dues, but not until the end of May.
Unfortunately, the decision did not restore the right to bargain over anything but base wages. So, while it is an important first step in the journey to restore workers' rights, we still have a long way to go.
Watch our web site for updates from our attorneys and the status of any appeals.
Read the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO's statement on the federal court ruling.