Labor & Employment

Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds law curbing collective bargaining for public workers


The Wisconsin Supreme Court has upheld a law that limits collective bargaining for public workers and requires them to make increased contributions to pensions and health care.

The state supreme court ruled in a 5-2 decision (PDF) on Thursday that the law does not violate associational and equal protection rights of government workers under the Wisconsin Constitution. “Collective bargaining remains a creation of legislative grace and not constitutional obligation,” Justice Michael Gableman wrote in his majority opinion. The Associated Press, Reuters and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have stories.

The law, known as Act 10, was proposed by Gov. Scott Walker, who touted it as a way to save money. It bars public workers from collectively bargaining on issues other than base wages tied to inflation, bars the automatic deduction of union dues from their paychecks, and requires annual elections to determine whether workers want continued union representation, according to the AP story.

The state supreme court treated the Wisconsin Constitution’s protection of associational and equal-protection rights to be no broader than that of the U.S. Constitution.

The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has also upheld the law. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling “put to rest the last of the major legal disputes over Act 10,” according to the Journal Sentinel.

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