Wisconsin’s Anti-Union ‘Right-to-Work’ Law Upheld

CHICAGO (CN) – Just as it upheld Indiana’s anti-union Right-to-Work law, the Seventh Circuit found that Wisconsin’s identical legislation is constitutional.

Adopted by Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature, Act 1 prohibits individuals from having to pay union dues as a condition of their employment.

Since all employees would benefit from their representation, regardless of union membership, however, the Locals 139 and 140 of the International Union of Operating Engineers challenged the law in a federal complaint.

Proving fatal to the challenge, the Seventh Circuit had already upheld the constitutionality of Indiana’s Right-to-Work law with the 2014 case Sweeney v. Pence.

A federal judge in Wisconsin cited this precedent in dismissing the new challenge, and the Seventh Circuit on Wednesday, rejecting claims that the law effects a taking of union property in violation of the Fifth Amendment.

“In this case, IUOE’s claim that Act 1 works an unconstitutional taking from all affected unions, and the relief IUOE seeks — invalidation of parts of Act 1 — both clearly ‘reach beyond [IUOE’s] particular circumstances,’” U.S. Circuit Judge Joel Flaum wrote for a three-judge panel.

“Further, the panel’s discussions of the Takings Clause issue in Sweeney indicate that an unconstitutional taking would arise, if at all, from the statutory language of the right-to-work statutes or the NLRA, a theory to which a facial challenge would have been well-suited. Likewise, in this case, IUOE asserts that the provision of Act 1 that forbids all union-security agreements amounts to an unconstitutional taking on its face. Thus, the district court correctly construed this claim as a ‘pre-enforcement facial challenge’ to Act 1, determined that the takings claim was ripe … and dismissed the claim with prejudice in light of Sweeney.

NLRA is short for the National Labor Relations Act.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel applauded the outcome.

“The decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirms what we have argued since this law was enacted in 2015, that Right-to-Work is constitutional,” Schimel said in a statement. “The Constitution does not protect a union’s right to take money from non-union members and I’m proud to have defended the rule of law in Wisconsin.”

The IUOE has not responded to a request sent for comment on their website.


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