Wisconsin Judge Strikes Down Anti-Union Law - by Stephen Lendman
Since taking office on January 3, Republican Governor Scott Walker waged war on public workers and their unions, aiming to restrict collective bargaining rights to wage negotiations before ending them altogether.
He also demanded draconian health insurance and pension contribution increases, doubling them for state employees during hard times when they're already strapped to make ends meet. Doing so called for pay cuts ranging from 8 - 20% ahead of more planned reductions coming.
On March 9, a protracted Senate battle ended when hard-line Republicans violated Wisconsin's open meetings law, requiring 24 hours notice prior for special sessions unless giving it is impossible or impractical.
At issue was passing an old-fashioned union-busting law with no Democrats present, brazen politicians and corrupted union bosses selling out rank and file members for self-enrichement and privilege, complicit with corporate CEOs.
The epic battle ended along party lines after State Assembly members past Walker's bill 53 - 42, following the Senate voting 18 - 1 with no debate. The measure reads:
"This bill authorizes a state agency to discharge any state employee who fails to report to work as scheduled for any three unexcused working days during a state emergency or who participates in a strike, work stoppage, sit-down, stay-in, slowdown, or other concerted activities to interrupt the operations or services of state government, including specifically purported mass resignations or sick calls. Under the bill, engaging in any of these actions constitutes just cause for discharge."
In addition, the governor may unilaterally declare "state of emergency" authority to fire striking workers, and under the section titled, "Discharge of State Employees:"
"The Governor may issue an executive order declaring a state of emergency for the state or any portion of the state if he or she determines that an emergency resulting from a disaster or imminent threat of a disaster exists."
In other words, he can dictatorially do what he wishes, especially regarding public worker rights and job security. They're gone unless resurrected by a sustained, mobilized, united, and committed mass action statewide shutdown for rights too important to lose.
Other provisions stipulated worker responsibility for half their pension contributions, and minimally 12.6% of healthcare premiums. In addition, future pay raises are pegged to annual CPI increases, a rigged index not reflecting true inflation. Greater ones may only be approved by statewide referendum, a cumbersome process taking time.
Further, unions must hold annual votes to let workers decide whether or not to be members, and state authorities no longer will collect union dues from paychecks.
Dane County Judge Strikes Down Anti-Union Law
On May 27, Circuit Court Judge Maryann Sumi rescinded Walker's bill in a 33-page decision, ruling Republican lawmakers violated Wisconsin's open meetings law.
On March 18, she placed it on temporary hold, but Thursday's ruling voided it, pending an appeal to Wisconsin's Supreme Court that may reverse her.
Nonetheless, Dane County Democrat District Attorney, Ismael Ozanne, said, "It's what we were looking for," acknowledging the war isn't won, pending the higher court ruling. "The supremes are the supremes," he said. "They can do what they want."