Wisconsin Plans To Appeal Right-To-Work Ruling

REUTERS/Las VegasSun/Steve Marcus

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The Wisconsin Department of Justice plans to request Monday that a recent court decision to block a statewide right-to-work law be put on hold.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge William Foust ruled Apr. 8 that right-to-work is unconstitutional. Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel disagreed with the decision and plans to appeal it after requesting it be put on hold. The law has been passed in 25 other states and upheld over the decades as a state right under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act.

“We wholeheartedly disagree with (the) decision and final order,” Schimel said in a statement Friday to The Associated Press. “We will seek a stay and immediately appeal the decision. I am confident the law ultimately will be upheld and Wisconsin will remain a Right-to-Work state.”

Right-to-work outlaws mandatory union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Foust gave his final order blocking the law Friday, effectively allowing the state to challenge the decision on appeal. His decision notes right-to-work equates to the taking of private property since unions have to represent everyone in a unionized workplace regardless if they pay dues.

“While [union] losses today could be characterized by some as minor,” the decision noted. “They are not isolated and the impact of [the law] over time is threatening to the unions’ very economic viability.”

The Wisconsin AFL-CIO, Machinists Local Lodge 1061 and United Steelworkers District 2 brought forth the lawsuit. Labor unions generally disagree with right-to-work claiming it prevents workers from coming together to demand workplace rights. Foust wrote the decision impacts the entire state right-to-work law and not just the parties involved or the district the lawsuit was filed in.

“That’s what we’ve been asking for from the very beginning,” Union Lead Attorney Fred Perillo told The Associated Press. “That’s not just null and void in Dane County. It’s not limited geographically or just to the named plaintiffs.”

Unions that get voted in as the exclusive representative for a workplace are required by law to represent all workers regardless of whether they pay dues. They can become member-only unions, but then they lose the right to have monopoly privileges over a workplace against other labor groups. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW) said the claim is disingenuous.

“Contrary to the union’s misrepresentations which the judge disingenuously accepted,” NRTW Vice President Patrick Semmens said in a statement. “It is union bosses who choose to exercise monopoly control over all workers, including those who oppose the union and who feel they would be better off without union officials’ imposed ‘representation.’”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed the policy into law March 2015 despite adamant opposition from the labor movement. Labor unions launched numerous protests against him throughout the legislative debate. The law only escalated tensions between Walker and labor unions over a plan known as Act 10 to overhaul state labor policy in 2011.

Act 10 allows state employees to choose whether they want to pay union dues. It also requires public unions to hold a renewal vote every couple of years to determine if workers still want them. Walker has defended the reforms as being beneficial to state residents.

The two laws became huge issues for unions when Walker decided to run for president. Walker officially announced his run July 13 but eventually ended it Sept. 21. He proposed a plan Sept. 15 to rein in union power nationally, but unions claim the reforms caused his campaign to fail.

The unions and Foust did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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