Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Anti-Union Law

On June 14th, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld the state’s anti-union law, referred to as the “Budget Repair Law.” On May 26, 2011, a Wisconsin Circuit Court had invalidated Wisconsin’s anti-union law, finding the Legislature passed it in violation of the state’s open meeting law. Today’s decision overturns the Circuit Court’s ruling.

The Supreme Court found the Circuit Court decision interfered with the powers of the Legislature, violating separation of powers.  Separation of powers is a legal concept each of the three branches of government have separate rights and authority. Each branch may only exercise those powers granted by the Constitution and may not exercise any rights or powers which are exclusively granted to another branch. The Court also found the Legislature complied with state constitutional requirements by posting the bill on three bulletin boards approximately one hour and fifty minutes before the vote took place.

Wisconsin’s “Budget Repair Law” is a direct attack on public-sector unions. The bill significantly restricts the scope of bargaining and requires union re-certification every year. The law also bans local governments from deducting dues and allows union members to refuse to pay their fair share for union representation. The battle over the law now shifts to the ballot box where six of the nineteen state senators who voted for the bill face will face recall elections on July 12th.