Right-to-Work Law Survives Legal Challenge in Wisconsin

by | July 13, 2017

By Patrick Marley

A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld Wisconsin's law that bars collective bargaining agreements requiring workers to pay union fees.

GOP Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers in 2015 approved the measure, known by supporters as a "right-to-work" law. The law ended the ability of unions to reach labor contracts that require all workers in certain jobs to pay union fees, even when they don't want to belong to a union.

Two units of the International Union of Operating Engineers sued over the law.

Federal law requires unions to represent all workers in certain job classes, while the Wisconsin law prevents the unions from collecting fees from workers who don't want to pay. The unions argued it was unconstitutional for the government to prevent them from collecting money to cover their costs for representing non-union workers.

U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller last year ruled against the unions because the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a similar Indiana law in 2014.

A three-judge panel of that appeals court on Wednesday agreed with Stadtmueller and upheld Wisconsin's law.

The unions did not provide "any compelling reason" to revisit a recent decision, Judge Joel Flaum wrote in Wednesday's decision. He was joined by Judges Frank Easterbrook and Michael Kanne.

(c)2017 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel