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Wisconsin appeals court upholds right-to-work law

[JURIST] Wisconsin's Court of Appeals [official website] on Tuesday upheld [ppinion, PDF] the state's right-to-work law, stating that the law does not violate the constitution.

The right-to-work law prohibits requiring non-union members to pay union dues as a condition of employment. Challengers of the law claimed that it amounts to a taking without just compensation for the unions, who still must represent the interests on non-union members.

The circuit court had previously granted summary judgement to the unions, stating that the unions had a "legally protectable property interest in the money and services expended to fulfill their duty of fair representation to non-members." The court also found that the law threatened the unions' economic viability and created a "free-rider" problem in which non-members were still represented by the unions.

The court of appeals acknowledged that in order for an unconstitutional takings to have occurred, it must be shown that "(1) a property interest exists; (2) the property interest has been taken; (3) the taking was for public use; and (4) the taking was without just compensation." The court found that the unions have a property interest in the money in their treasuries and the services it provides. However, it also found no takings of property occurred through the Right-to-Work Law because no money is being taken from the treasuries and the law does not require the unions to provide services to anyone.

The decision comes just over two months after a three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld [JURIST report] the law. The first lawsuits against the law were filed [JURIST report] in March 2015.

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