Wisconsin state judge strikes down collective bargaining law

MILWAUKEE Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:35pm EDT

A union iron worker attends a rally outside of the Capitol building to protest against a proposed bill by Republican Governor Scott Walker in Madison, Wisconsin February 21, 2011. REUTERS/Darren Hauck

A union iron worker attends a rally outside of the Capitol building to protest against a proposed bill by Republican Governor Scott Walker in Madison, Wisconsin February 21, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Darren Hauck

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MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A Wisconsin judge struck down on Friday the state's controversial collective bargaining law pressed by Republican Governor Scott Walker, ruling that it unconstitutionally limits the rights of many public sector union workers.

Walker responded to the ruling by saying that a "liberal activist judge in Dane County" wanted to take away the lawmaking responsibilities of the legislature and governor.

"We are confident that the state will ultimately prevail in the appeals process," Walker said in a statement.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas ruled that the law passed by Wisconsin lawmakers in a contentious session in 2011 violated the union members' free speech, association and equal protection rights in the state and U.S. constitutions.

Several statutes enacted or changed "single out and encumber the rights of those employees who choose union membership and representation solely because of that association" in violation of their free speech and association rights, Colas found.

It was unclear what immediate impact his ruling would have.

Numerous legal challenges have been pursued since the Republican-led legislature approved the collective bargaining law last year in a session aimed at fixing a budget deficit.

The law forced most state workers, including teachers, to pay more for health insurance and pensions, limited their pay raises, made payment of union dues voluntary and forced unions to be recertified every year.

The proposals spurred massive protests at the state Capitol in Madison and a union-backed effort to recall Walker. Walker easily survived a recall election in June and has become a champion of fiscal conservatives in his first term.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

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Comments (6)
Animated wrote:
Walker responded to the ruling by saying that a “liberal activist judge in Dane County” wanted to take away the lawmaking responsibilities of the legislature and governor.

No…he was ruling that you overstepped your authority by creating an unconstitutional law.

Sep 14, 2012 7:44pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
JusticeNow4U wrote:
A great step forward for the middle class!!!!

Sep 14, 2012 8:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
VexLuthor wrote:
The public employee unions failed in the legislature, failed to recall legislators or the governor, but they want the government they paid for so they’ve shopped around and found a lib judge who will give them what they want. Not to worry, it will stand for about two minutes before a higher court slaps it down resoundingly. Sorry union goons, the people DO have a say in how much they pay for services.

Sep 14, 2012 8:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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