Wisconsin AG appeals ruling striking down collective bargaining law

[JURIST] Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen [official profile] on Tuesday filed an appeal of a ruling that struck down [JURIST report] a controversial law [text] limiting the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions. The appeal comes just four days after Judge Juan Colas of the Dane County Circuit Court [official website] held that the collective bargaining law, known as the Budget Repair Bill, violated union workers' rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association and equal protection under the US and Wisconsin constitutions. The Budget Repair Bill forces most state workers to pay more in health insurance and other benefits and compels unions to be recertified each year. Van Hollen also filed a motion to stay [text, PDF; brief, PDF] the court's ruling while the appeal is pending, arguing [press release] that "the decision is likely to be overturned on appeal and that a stay is needed to avoid confusion and to avoid other harm that might result if local governments are not able to take full advantage of Act 10 while an appeal is pending."

The Budget Repair Bill has been the subject of copious legal and political controversy since its passage in March 2011. In July the Wisconsin Supreme Court [official website] refused to reopen a case challenging the Budget Repair Bill because of a justice's refusal to recuse himself [JURIST report]. The Supreme Court's upholding of the Budget Repair Bill overruled a Dane County Circuit Court's decision [JURIST report] last year that struck down the law for violations of the open meetings rule. The law had previously been temporarily blocked [JURIST report] from publication and implementation by the same judge. The bill, which limits collective bargaining rights of state employees and requires them to contribute a percentage of their salaries to their health care and pensions, was signed into law [JURIST report] in March of last year.

 

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