The Midwest is quickly becoming a treacherous place for unions, with right-to-work laws passing in Michigan and Indiana. Wisconsin may not be a right-to-work state, but a controversial 2011 law severely restricted the power of public-sector unions and led to the attempted recall of Governor Scott Walker.
The failed attempt to recall the governor was not the only backlash. Seven large Wisconsin public-sector unions sued to overturn the law, claiming it violated union members’ equal protection and First Amendment rights. But on Friday, the 7th Circuit found the law to be constitutional.
Act 10, as the law is known, denies workers the right to collectively bargain on all issues except base wages, bans employers from automatically deducting union dues from workers’ paychecks and makes it tough to recertify a union.
"Wisconsin educators are extremely disappointed with the appeals court ruling," Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Counsel (WEAC), said in a statement. "[Act 10 is] a ploy to eliminate workers' rights to have a voice through their union—political payback for citizens who didn't endorse the governor." The WEAC was one of the plaintiffs in this case.
The governor took a different view. "[The] court ruling is a victory for Wisconsin taxpayers," Walker said in a statement. "The provisions contained in Act 10, which have been upheld in federal court, were vital in balancing Wisconsin's $3.6 billion budget deficit without increasing taxes, without massive public employee layoffs, and without cuts to programs like Medicaid."
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