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Union files lawsuit challenging Wisconsin collective bargaining law

The Wisconsin Law Enforcement Association (WLEA) [union website] on Tuesday filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] in the Dane County Circuit Court [official website] challenging the constitutionality of a controversial law [text] limiting the collective bargaining rights of public sector unions. The WLEA is challenging the law, also known as the Budget Repair Bill, specifically as it pertains to law enforcement unions [AP report] on the grounds that it violates their associational, speech, petition, advocacy and equal protection rights. The Budget Repair Bill was signed into law by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker [official website] in March 2011. The Wisconsin Trooper's Association, who, along with motor vehicle inspectors are exempt from this law, endorsed Walker in the 2010 gubernatorial election. The WLEA is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.

The Budget Repair Bill has been the subject of copious legal and political controversy since its passage in March 2011. A Dane County Circuit Court judge struck down [JURIST report] the law as it applies to school district and local government workers in September. Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen [official profile] filed an appeal [JURIST report] days later. 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 [JURIST report] of the Budget Repair Bill in June 2011 overturned a Dane County Circuit Court's decision [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that struck down the law for violations of the open meetings rule. The law was temporarily blocked [JURIST report] in March 2011 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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