MADISON, Wisc. (CN) – Unions representing 4,000 Madison public school teachers and 300 Milwaukee sanitation workers claim Gov. Scott Walker’s union-busting “Budget Repair Bill” violates their rights “to form, join and assist labor unions and to petition and advocate through such organizations.”
Madison Teachers Inc. and Public Employees Local 61, AFL-CIO, sued the governor and the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission in Dane County Court, challenging Wisconsin Act 10 – the so-called Budget Repair Bill – as modified by Act 32. Both bills were passed this year.
Under the union-busting bill, which led to nine recall elections in the Wisconsin Senate this summer, and a slew of copycat laws around the nation, municipal employees cannot collectively bargain for anything but salary. Job security, hours, workplace health and safety issues, grievance resolution procedures and so on are out. The bill also severely limits public employees’ ability to bargain for wage increases, but does not impose such restriction on non-unionized employees. The law also restricts the topics that unions and their members can discuss with municipalities and school districts.
Two previous lawsuits, filed in Federal Court in Madison, have challenged the constitutionality of Act 10. The teachers’ lawsuit also claims that the Special Session in which Walker and his Republican majority pushed through Act 10 was illegal.
Madison Teachers and Local say Walker designated the special session for “budget repair,” but the bill “contained numerous policy items having no fiscal effect on the then-projected shortfall in the 2009-11 biennial budget period.”
The bill was pushed through without a quorum, and then published in defiance of a judge’s order.
The teachers and sanitation workers say the bill was enacted because of “Walker’s and the Legislature’s motive to stifle and retaliate against public employee unions because of their protected associational, speech, petition and advocacy activities.”
They say that state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald “publicly stated that the changes to the collective bargaining law were about eliminating unions so that ‘the money is not there’ for the labor movement and to make it ‘much more difficult’ for President Obama to win reelection in Wisconsin.”
The unions seek declaratory judgment that Act 10 (as modified by Act 32) is unconstitutional, and want the state enjoined from implementing its unconstitutional provisions.
They unions are represented by Lester Pines with Cullen, Weston, Pines & Bach in Madison, and Padway & Padway in Milwaukee.