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Update: Court strikes down Wisconsin right-to-work law

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MADISON — A Wisconsin court has struck down the state’s right-to-work law championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, calling it unconstitutional.

A Dane County Circuit Court judge issued the ruling Friday in a lawsuit filed by local unions. Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel promised to appeal the order, saying: “We are confident the law will be upheld on appeal.”

The Wisconsin AFL-CIO, Machinists Local Lodge 1061 in Milwaukee and United Steelworkers District 2 in Menasha filed the lawsuit last year.

The groups argued that the law was an unconstitutional seizure of union property because it required unions to extend benefits to workers who don’t pay dues.

We have received the following statements from officials on the court’s decision:

Attorney General Brad Schimel

“We are extremely disappointed that the Dane County Circuit Court struck down Wisconsin’s right-to-work law, but we are confident the law will be upheld on appeal.”

Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca

“This ruling is a victory for workers’ rights and middle class families. Middle class Wisconsin workers are in crisis and so-called ‘Right to Work’ laws have been shown to drive down wages and economic growth. The extreme right-wing Republican agenda has been incredibly harmful to working people and businesses in Wisconsin. It is especially disturbing to me that the ‘Right to Work’ bill was rammed through the legislature in a matter of weeks, yet Republicans took no meaningful action this session to grow Wisconsin’s economy and rebuild the middle class.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos

“Once again a liberal Dane County judge is trying to legislate from the bench. No one should be forced to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.  I’m confident that this decision will be reversed in a higher court and worker freedom will prevail.”

State Sen. Jennifer Shilling

“Everyone knew that ‘Right to Work’ laws would drive down family wages and interfere in private business contracts. Now we also know that this special interest attack on working families and locally-owned businesses is unconstitutional. This ruling is a major victory for hardworking Wisconsin families. Rather than wasting taxpayer dollars to defend the wishes of out-of-state special interest groups, the Department of Justice should side with Wisconsin families and allow this ruling to stand.”

Democratic Party of Wisconsin

“Today’s ruling confirms what families across the state have known for over a year now – that the so-called “Right to Work” legislation is an unlawful attack on wages and workplace rights.  We applaud the decision by Wisconsin’s judicial system and urge Governor Walker and his administration to avoid wasting taxpayer dollars on protracted legal battles and appeals. “Right to Work” laws have been shown again and again to drive down wages and harm economic growth – all to benefit CEO’s and out-of-state special interests. It’s time for Scott Walker and his GOP allies in the legislature to abandon their unconstitutional attacks on Wisconsin workers once and for all.

“Today’s ruling made it clear just how critical it is to elect new leadership in Wisconsin. Democrats believe that hard work should always be rewarded – not only with good wages, but also with respect, strong workplace protections, and the right to organize. We applaud the court’s decision and look forward to helping to elect leaders who will respect the rule of law and side with hard-working Wisconsin families over greedy special interests.”

John Mielke, President of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin

“It is unfortunate to see a Dane County judge overturn Wisconsin’s right-to-work law. Judge Foust’s argument for his ruling has been repeatedly rejected by state and federal courts throughout the nation, and I expect our state’s law to be similarly upheld upon appeal. ABC of Wisconsin fully supports Attorney General Brad Schimel’s decision to appeal the ruling. Our members believe that every worker in Wisconsin deserves the freedom to choose whether or not they belong to a union and that no one should be forced to pay union dues without consent.”

Phil Neuenfeldt, President of Wisconsin AFL-CIO

“Today, the courts put a needed check on Scott Walker’s attacks on working families by ruling that Wisconsin’s Right to Work law is in violation of our state constitution. Right to Work goes against the Wisconsin principles of fairness and democracy and hurts all of Wisconsin by eroding the strength of our middle class. Right to Work has always been unjust, now it’s proven unconstitutional.”

Senator Chris Larson

“Today is a huge victory for Wisconsin workers. The court ruling striking down RTW restores some of Wisconsin’s tradition of protecting worker freedom. Republicans forcing RTW through the Legislature last year was a betrayal of Wisconsin’s shared values.

“Just over a year ago, at the committee hearing on the damaging RTW scheme, Republicans abruptly shut down debate, silenced the voices of those who waited for hours to be heard, and forced a vote on a bill that diminishes worker health and safety and increases poverty.

“At a time when Walker and legislative Republicans are choosing corporate profiteering and special interests over protecting the rights of our neighbors, today’s court decision restores the voice of the majority of the people in Wisconsin who know that RTW laws are wrong for Wisconsin.”


  • David Ellison

    I am a retired union electrician who thinks that if companies were fair we would not need unions.Except some companies are not fair, also unions train their workers exceptionally well.One thing that must be mentioned ,that unions pull up the wages of non union workers.Another thing that needs to be considered is that most unions that are responsible like the IBEW unions is that they control their workers.Also they interact very well with the electrical contractors who have a lot to say in running the union.For instant if I come to the job I can be sent back to the union hall if they do not like my performance.The contractor can ask for one worker or five hundred electricians.In my union if you are fired twice in one year instead of laid off my union referral ticket is pulled and I must go before a E-board commitee who will rule on my case.We picked up alot of non union electricians since 1989 .I think quite a few of them are gone from the union. The former union electricians are back working in a non union capacity.This to me shows that the IBEW unions do not tolerant slip shod work and aim to show unions make a difference.

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  • Anonv

    Right to work is awesome! It’s not like we needed our freedom of association or contract anyways so I think it’s much more important that only corporate entities have those nice things!

  • Chrisco

    Why do you think they filled this in Dane county. The only place with incredible liberal judges. Nobody should be forced to pay for things they do not want. I do not think it would such a big deal if they did not give money to candidates. That is how this all started. People got made when their money went to people they do not support.

    • Jana Jensen

      You are correct, you should not have to pay for things you do not WANT but, you should pay for things you GET, like negotiated pay and benefits, no negotiating agent works for free.

    • Michael Neils

      I agree Chrisco. People should be able to contribute to the candidate of THEIR choosing. As for getting a raise, negotiating hours etc, people are pretty good at doing it on their own without a 3rd party. Why should everyone get the same raise when you have those who are always working and some who are the slow walking, slow moving, leaners and talkers who care less and put in the minimum just so they are not fired.

    • Andrew

      Smh unions cannot and do not use that money to donate to candidates. Smh because you know very little about this yet you insist on posting anyway

      • Michael Neils

        Really Andrew? Then why was that one of the points of the right to work-that you could opt out of the political party “donation” and contribute that amount to the charity of your choosing? While still remaining in the union and paying union dues. Why is the only choice at union meetings democratic signs to post in your yard…..hmmmmm curious that. I’d MUCH rather have the $ go to vets, PAVE, st jude’s, etc. Not a red/blue/green party.

  • Libsareliars

    Once again the idiots if Wisconsin go running to a liberal judge to try and block a law that is in the books. Just like voter ID the Supreme Court will over rule this judge and the law will stay as is. As for you liberals you wonder why you keep losing elections?

    • Michael Neils

      You can bet your last buck that if the $ went to Walker or Bradley a lot of union folk would run screaming to the union office for a refund, or stoppage. lol

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