Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gov. Walker's Union-Busting Bill Challenged In Court

Two unions asked a Dane County Circuit Court to declare unconstitutional the controversial state law that erased most Wisconsin public employee collective bargaining rights.

Approval of the bill, or Act 10, is at the heart of the recall movement underway against Gov. Scott Walker, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and three other Republican Senators.

Below is the text of a news release about the court action issued by Lester Pines, lead attorney; a link to the Journal Sentinel's story from Monday evening is here.

November 29, 2011

Madison Teachers, Inc. (MTI) and Public Employees Local 61, AFL-CIO (Local 61) from Milwaukee today asked the Dane County circuit court to rule that Governor Scott Walker’s effort to gut the collective bargaining rights of municipal and school district employees violates the Wisconsin Constitution.

A copy of the filing is attached.

Today’s submission specifies how the law, known as Act 10, violates various provisions of the state’s constitution. It details how Act 10 violates municipal and school district employees’ rights to freedom of association and equal protection of the laws as guaranteed by Articles 1, 3, & 4 of the Wisconsin Constitution.

It also explains that the legislature passed Act 10 in violation of the Constitution’s limitation on special sessions of the legislature found in Article VI, Section 11 and overreached its authority under the Milwaukee Home Rule provisions in Article III, Section 11(1).

“Governor Walker’s attack on public employees was rushed through the Legislature without any consideration of the ways that Wisconsin’s Constitution protects the rights of all of Wisconsin’s citizens,” said Lester Pines, MTI’s attorney. “We are confident that Wisconsin’s courts will enforce those protections.”

Attorney Nick Padway, who represents Local 61, said: “Act 10 specifically violates that part of Wisconsin’s Constitution which allows the City of Milwaukee to set its own rules for how it wants to treat its employees. The Legislature had no business interfering with the City of Milwaukee’s decisions.”

The State has thirty days to respond to the unions’ motion.

For further information, contact:
Attorney Lester Pines
(608) 251-0101


Reagan's Disciple said...

Good thing the appeal will now be heard in a different jurisdiction than the original filing.

Thanks for passing SB117 and getting it signed into law with bipartisan support! This bill was passed for precisely this reason.

Thanks to Vukmir & Kramer for leading the charge on this!

Anonymous said...

The idea that somehow the legislature undoing previous acts of the legislature somehow violates the constitution is quite funny.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Rowen - This is not germane to the item under which I am commenting but since I can't find an e-mail for you -- have you seen this?


Very ominous for gay rights.

Ted J. Rulseh
Manitowoc, Wis.

James Rowen said...

@Ted- - Thank you. Yes, I have seen the story and will be posting it. The email for this blog is listed in "Profile."

Lester Pines said...

To Reagan's Disciple,

SB117 allows a law to be challenged in any circuit court in the state. That law was passed after we filed the lawsuit but the law would have been irrelevant anyway because it is the plaintiff who chooses where the lawsuit will be commenced against the state. The new law does not give the state the right to move the case to a different circuit court.

And, by the way, you are wrong if you think that the judges in Dane County always rule against the state. It was a Dane County judge who upheld the Marriage Amendment.

Lester Pines said...


You may find that a primer on a concept called "checks and balances" There are three branches of government: legislative, executive and judicial. Each has powers to "check and balance" the other.

There is a document called the Wisconsin Constitution. If the legislature passes a law that a citizen asserts violates the Constitution, that person gets to go to a place called a "court" which is in the judicial branch. The court then decides if the legislature passed an unconstitutional law.

That's how our systme works.

Reagan's Disciple said...


I was referring to the ability to now appeal the case to an appeals court of the appellant's choice. The case was filed in Dane, but will now be appealed to a court outside of Dane Co. which will be chosen by the appellant.

Below was cut directly from line 9 of SB 117 in regards to appeals process:

shall be heard in a court of appeals district selected by the appellant but the court of appeals district may not be the court of appeals district that contains the court from which the judgment or order is appealed.