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Federal appeals court upholds all of Wisconsin's collective bargaining law


CHICAGO (WTAQ) -  A three-judge federal appeals court panel in Chicago has upheld all of Act 10 – the measure which virtually ended collective bargaining for most Wisconsin public employee unions.

However, a Dane County court ruling is still in place, which threw out the bargaining changes for local governments and public schools. A state appellate court is still reviewing that action.

Early last year, Federal Judge William Conley of Madison tossed out parts of the law which barred public employers from withholding union dues from workers’ paychecks. Conley dropped the requirement that most public unions hold recertification votes every year.

But the Chicago appellate judges restored all the actions that Conley threw out. The appellate judges said, “We now uphold Act 10 in its entirety.”

Appeals Judge David Hamilton gave a partial dissent. He said the state could not prohibit payroll deductions for union dues as long as police and fire unions are exempt from that provision and all others in Act 10.

State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said the appeals court confirmed his contention that Act 10 is constitutional.

Seven public unions – including the state’s largest employee union and the WEAC teachers’ union – filed suit in 2011 to challenge the law’s constitutionality. An attorney for the plaintiffs wanted to further examine the ruling before making a comment.

In a statement to the media, Governor Walker said: "As we’ve said all along, Act 10 is constitutional.

Today’s court ruling is a victory for Wisconsin 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. 

With this ruling behind us, we can now focus on the next state budget, which will invest in priorities to move our state forward."

State Senate Republican Luther Olsen of Ripon said he hoped Friday’s ruling would encourage the state appeals court to reinstate all of Act 10 as well.

The Dane County ruling still required local and school employees to pay more toward their retirement and health insurance.