Liberal judge rules Wisconsin right to work law unconstitutional
A liberal circuit court judge in Madison, Wisconsin has ruled that the year-old Wisconsin right to work law is unconstititional because labor unions have a "property right" to the wages of employees.
That argument has been rejected by multiple courts and right-to-work proponents say they will appeal the judge’s decision.
“We are extremely disappointed that the Dane County Circuit Court struck down Wisconsin’s right-to-work law, but we are confident the law will be upheld on appeal,” state Attorney General Brad Schimel said.
The law ending compulsory union dues passed last March in the Republican-controlled Legislature, and was quickly signed into law by Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Wisconsin, at the time, became the 25th right-to-work state in the country.
Three labor unions immediately sued the state, Walker, and Schimel.
The unions insist that the law requires unions to provide a service – workplace “representation” to nonunion workers – without being compensated.
Foust, an entrenched Dane County liberal judge, agreed.
The state and right-to-work advocates argue that “neither the federal nor state law requires a union or other entity to become an exclusive bargaining representative.”
Foust described that position as “disingenuous.”
The judge said Act 1, as the right-to-work law is known, changed the “landscape” of organized labor by prohibiting fair share fees, or compulsory union dues for only those things related to collective bargaining.
“A free-rider problem is born—the ability of non-members to refuse to pay for services unions are compelled to provide by law,” Foust wrote.
But Scalia, no union defender during his distinguished career on the high court, was thought to have been the deciding vote in what would have been a 5-4 ruling in Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Assn. Scalia was expected to cast the deciding vote against unions, neutering their ability to collect membership dues and other fees. As it turned out, because of the vacancy, the high court split 4-4, saving – for now – big labor’s government-sanctioned protections.
The idea that unions are entitled to a workers' wages based on the notion of "property rights" is a huge stretch, and appeals courts have almost universally found that to be the case. In the meantime, liberals are celebrating their pyrrhic victory as a blow struck for workers' rights.
Because nothing quite says "liberty" like coercing workers to join a union against their will.
Yes, this is an issue of freedom versus tyranny. And if unions do a good enough job in representing the rights of workers, they will be rewarded with loyalty and dues from employees.
If not, they will fail. And assuming this decision is overturned on appeal, Wisconsin workers will be far better off with the choice of being represented rather than being forced to join a union.