MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) - A federal judge threw out a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the constitutionality of restrictions placed on public workers unions in Wisconsin under Act 10. The ruling is a victory for Governor Scott Walker and a defeat for organized labor.
Reaction to this decision was immediate from those on both sides of the issue; each still a long way away from finding common ground on this controversial law pushed by the Walker administration.
The 12-page ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed by two unions representing public employees for the city of Madison and Dane County. They argued Act 10, which gives unions the ability to solely negotiate wages, violated workers First Amendment right to freely assemble. In addition union lawyers claimed that requiring wage increases for union members, be tied to the rate of inflation also violated their right to equal protection because non-union workers were exempt. U.S. District Judge William Conley disagreed.
The Judge wrote, "Under Act 10, general employees remain free to associate and represented employees and their unions remain free to speak; municipal employers are simply not allowed to listen."
"I think it's a mistake," said State Senator Dave Hansen from Green Bay. "I'm disappointed in the court's ruling. Senator Hansen says Act 10 robbed union workers of their right to earn a fair living and this ruling only adds to their pain.
"The court's ruling is very disappointing - a blow to the rights of Wisconsin workers - to work together for safe and better working conditions," Sen. Hansen said.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen praised the ruling "This case proves, once again, that Act 10 is constitutional in all respects and that challenges to the law are baseless."
Gov. Walker reacted "This is a significant victory for Wisconsin taxpayers. Act 10 is a constitutional law enacted by the people's representatives."
But according to Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the state AFL-CIO "Act 10 always has and always will infringe upon a workers' right to collective bargaining and democracy in the workplace."