Wisconsin Right-to-Work Law Inspires Federal Suit

     MILWAUKEE (CN) — Wisconsin’s currently suspended right-to-work law has another legal attack on its hands, this one in federal court.
     Two local units of International Union of Operating Engineers, 139 and 420, filed suit Thursday against Attorney General Brad Schimel and Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission chairperson James R. Scott, claiming the law violates the National Labor Relations Act.
     The suit comes one year after three different labor organizations brought the first challenge to the law. So far that action in Dane County Circuit Court has been successful.
     Just last month, Judge William Foust found that forbidding unions from collecting fair share payments from non-members who benefit from their services is an unjust taking.
     Foust even refused to stay the law pending the state’s appeal, over the state’s objection that this would create confusion.
     U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller presides over the new federal lawsuit, which adds a slightly different tack.
     These unions claim the right-to-work law “attempts to regulate concerted activities that are arguably or actually protected or prohibited by the NLRA.”
     The complaint also calls the law a civil rights violation, stating it “interferes with the free play of economic forces in collective bargaining over a mandatory bargaining subject, and because it attempts to regulate a subject of collective bargaining that Congress intended to leave for the parties to negotiate, free of state regulation.”
     Three attorneys signed the unions’ complaint, with Stephen Berzon of Altshuler Berzon in San Francisco taking the top spot.

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