MADISON, Wis. - Unions and their members are thrilled about a Wisconsin court ruling Friday striking down the state law pushed by Gov. Scott Walker that killed collective bargaining rights for most public workers.
Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled that the law violates both the state and U.S. Constitution and is null and void. He issued the ruling in response to a lawsuit brought by the teachers union in this city and by unions representing Milwaukee city employees.
Although it was not immediately clear whether implementation of the overturned law would be suspended or even halted during expected appeals the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that the law remains largely in force for state workers but that for city, county, and school workers, the decision returns the law to its status before Walker signed the legislation in March 2011.
The president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, Phil Neuenfeldt, said that the ruling confirms what unions have been saying about the law banning collective bargaining rights ever since it was first introduced.
"Scott Walker's attempt to silence the union men and women of Wisconsin's public sector was an immoral, unjust and illegal power grab," said Neuenfeldt. "Now a court has ruled that the essential provisions of Act 10, Scott Walker's draconian attack on public worker's right to collectively bargain, is unconstitutional.
Friday afternoon there were large crowds gathered in Madison for a solidarity rally with striking Chicago teachers. When they heard the news of the decision striking down the anti-collective bargaining law they broke out into cheers. "There was huge excitement there. Every public employee ought to be excited about this," said Matty Bell, executive director of Council 24 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
"We've now had a federal and state judge say this law was unconstitutional and that it violated not only the state constitution but the U.S. Constitution as well," said Be;ll. "The working men and women from across this state deserve to have their rights, which Scott Walker stole from them, restored and today's ruling gave them hope.
Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said this weekend that the state would appeal the ruling.
Photo: Marcus Holowell/PW