The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld Wisconsin’s Act 10, which puts limits on collective bargaining for public employees.
The case was brought by the Wisconsin Education Association Council and six other unions and argued the law is unconstitutional. The federal court upheld the law in its entirety, according to the decision released Friday.
U.S. District Judge William Conley in March overturned part of the law requiring unions hold elections each year for members to retain their official status. The judge also said the law illegally halted the automatic withdrawal of union dues.
“Today’s decision by the 7th Circuit confirms what I have stated from the beginning. Act 10 is constitutional. While there are no guarantees, it is my hope that this decision will pave the way for resolving any remaining challenges in a manner that supports the legislative decisions made by our elected officials, ” said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
The ruling stated that Act 10’s prohibition on payroll dues deduction does not violate the First Amendment.
The ruling states, "Nothing supports treating the selective prohibition of payroll deductions as a burden on or obstacle to the speech of general employee unions. Instead, Act 10 simply subsidizes the speech of one group, while refraining from doing so for another."
Gov. Scott Walker released a statement calling the ruling a victory for taxpayers.
"The provisions contained in Act 10, which have been upheld in federal court, were vital in balancing Wisconsin’s $3.6 billion budget deficit without increasing taxes, without massive public employee layoffs, and without cuts to programs like Medicaid," he said.
WEAC released a statement calling the ruling disappointing for Wisconsin educators.
The statement read, "What is so abundantly clear is that Act 10 was never about addressing the fiscal needs of the state but instead a ploy to eliminate workers’ rights to have a voice through their union – political payback for citizens who didn’t endorse the governor."
Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews said it's likely the case will proceed to the U.S. Supreme Court.