Juan Colas, Wisconsin
Judge Strikes Down Union Law, Governor Scott Walker Vows Appeal
September 16, 2012
A Wisconsin judge has struck down the state's controversial collective
bargaining law, saying the legislation championed by Governor Scott
Walker unconstitutionally limits the rights of public sector workers.
Friday's circuit court ruling said the legislation, which triggered
weeks of union protests last year in the state capital, violated union
members' rights to free speech. It also said the law fails to uphold
equal protection rights in the state and U.S. constitutions.
Walker immediately responded to the local court ruling, calling the
jurist a “liberal activist judge” who wanted to take away the lawmaking
responsibilities of the state legislature and the governor. Walker also
voiced confidence the legislation will be upheld on appeal. Several
other legal challenges are also pending, and Friday's ruling was not
expected to have any immediate impact on bargaining issues.
The union restrictions require public workers to pay more for health
insurance and pension benefits, while taking away their rights to
collective bargaining on those issues. It also limits collective
bargaining on wages to increases no greater than the rate of inflation.
Anger over the law led to an effort to recall the governor from office.
More than 900,000 signatures were collected on recall petitions,
triggering a recall election in June that Walker won. He became the
first governor in U.S. history to survive a recall election. Walker
argued the restrictive legislation was needed at a time when Wisconsin
faced a $3 billion budget shortfall.