Law & Courts News in Brief

Judge Invalidates Most of Wis. Anti-Union Law

By Mark Walsh — September 25, 2012 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A state judge has struck down key provisions of the 2011 Wisconsin law that curtailed the collective bargaining rights of teachers and other public employees.

Judge Juan B. Colas of Dane County Circuit Court in Madison ruled Sept. 14 that the anti-union law championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker violates public employees’ rights to free speech and association under the state and federal constitutions. The law was passed amid a tumultuous legislative special session, and unions later helped force a recall election for Mr. Walker, which the governor survived.

In response, a union that represents about 100,000 employees in Milwaukee County, the Milwaukee public schools, the city of Milwaukee and other municipalities sent letters last week requesting negotiations on new contracts, the Associated Press reported. Some local affiliates of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the state’s largest teachers’ union, have also begun the process of asking their districts to return to the bargaining table.

The state judge ruled in a challenge brought by Madison Teachers Inc., an affiliate of the National Education Association representing teachers and other school employees in the Madison district, as well as by a Milwaukee municipal employees’ union.

The unions challenged the key provisions of the Wisconsin law, such as ones that prohibit municipal and school employers from offering union-represented workers a base wage increase greater than the cost of living, bargaining on issues other than wages, entering into “fair share” agreements covering employees who refuse to join the union, and deducting union dues from government paychecks.

The lawsuit also challenged the statute’s annual-recertification procedures for the unions.

Judge Colas ruled that the law’s provisions burden the rights to free speech and association of the unions and their members.

Gov. Walker, in a statement, said the people of Wisconsin “clearly spoke” on June 5, the date of his recall-election victory, but “sadly, a liberal activist judge in Dane County wants to go backwards and take away the lawmaking responsibilities of the legislature and the governor. We are confident that the state will ultimately prevail in the appeals process.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the September 26, 2012 edition of Education Week as Judge Invalidates Most of Wis. Anti-Union Law


English-Language Learners Webinar The Science of Reading and Multilingual Learners: What Educators Need to Know
Join experts in reading science and multilingual literacy to discuss what the latest research means for multilingual learners in classrooms adopting a science of reading-based approach.
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Law & Courts In a Chat, Two U.S. Supreme Court Justices Talk Civics, Media Literacy
Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Amy Coney Barrett discussed civics education in a recorded interview presented by the Ronald Reagan Institute.
3 min read
Civics Justices 07292022 172183035
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Law & Courts Conservative Parent Group Sues School District Over Curriculum That Discusses Race and Gender
The lawsuit, among the first to cite a state law curbing discussions of those topics, could have broad implications for school districts.
9 min read
Image of a pending lawsuit.
Law & Courts Appeals Court Revives Student's Free Speech Suit Over Antisemitic Social Media Post
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit reinstated a case involving an off-campus post referring to the extermination of Jews.
3 min read
Image of a gavel
Law & Courts The Supreme Court and Education: Key Rulings That Impact Schools
A recap of the court's decisions that are relevant to schools and educators.
4 min read
Paul D. Clement at the lectern for the petitioner.
A sketch by Art Lien, who just retired after a long career as a courtroom artist, shows U.S. Supreme Court arguments in April in <i>Kennedy</i> v. <i>Bremerton School District</i>, a case about a high school football coach's post-game prayers and one of several cases of interest to educators during the court's 2021-22 term.
Art Lien