A Dane County, Wisconsin Circuit Judge has ruled invalid most of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s “budget repair” bill, saying it violates both the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions. Walker’s so-called “budget repair” bill, passed after stimulating weeks of massive street protests by hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin citizens last year, effectively swept away collective bargaining rights for most public sector employees. Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas, in ruling against the law, wrote that certain sections of the law “single out and encumber the rights of those employees who choose union membership and representation solely because of that association and therefore infringe upon the rights of free speech and association guaranteed by both the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions.” Colas found that by removing the rights of public sector employees like city, school and county employees, the law effectively created a separate class of workers who were treated differently and unequally, thus violating the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the section that guarantees equal treatment under the law. Walker fought back by calling the judge a “liberal activist” and vowing to appeal. The ruling rolls back the law to where Wisconsin public employees were before the law was signed. Walker introduced the law just six weeks into his first term as Governor. During his campaign for governor, Walker did not disclose his intent to introduce the union-busting measure, instead focusing primarily on promises to create jobs in Wisconsin. The Court’s ruling was a major blow to the Republican Party’s efforts to weaken unions.
Main Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press, September 14, 2012