Judge strikes down Wisconsin Act 10

Earlier today Dane County Judge Juan Colas struck down Wisconsin Act 10, which virtually eliminated collective bargaining rights for public employees.

While Judge Colas’ decision is certainly good news, I don’t expect his ruling to last, given the conservative bent to our State Supreme court. No doubt Justice David Prosser will have another opportunity to prove that he is in fact an excellent complement to Republicans in the Legislature and Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Here’s more on Judge Colas’ decision.

The law remains largely in force for state workers, though a federal judge struck down part of that section of the law as well earlier this year. But for city, county, and school workers the decision by Dane County Judge Juan Colas returns the law to its status before Walker signed his law in March 2011.

Colas ruled that the law violated workers’ constitutional rights by denying to union workers certain powers available to their nonunion counterparts. The decision could still be overturned on appeal – the Supreme Court has already restored the law once in June 2011 after it was blocked by a different Dane County judge earlier that year.

“The decision essentially creates the (2011) status quo for municipal employees and school district employees because it declared that the essential provisions of Act 10 to be unconstitutional,” said Lester Pines, an attorney for the Madison teachers and city of Milwaukee employees who are plaintiffs.

School districts and local officials will have to return to the bargaining table with their workers in a much more significant way. The decision raises a host of questions about changes in pay, benefits and work rules that have taken place in the meantime while bargaining was essentially dead.

Under Walker’s law, both the state and local governments were prohibited from bargaining over anything besides a cost of living salary adjustment. Other issues such as health benefits, pensions, workplace safety and other work rules were strictly off limits.

Those can all now be bargained.


Related Articles

31 thoughts on “Judge strikes down Wisconsin Act 10

  1. I expect no better from Walker or the judicial “strangler,” but the real betrayer of the people and Walker’s chief enabler is J.B. Van Holland.

    If anyone deserves a recall, it is Van Holland who as the GOP mouthpiece will appeal the collective bargaining decision along with that of the racist,voter disfranchisement legislation.

    The good news is J.B.Van Holland’s name will be recorded in the dark period of Wisconsin history in the same paragraph with the “union buster” and the judicial “strangler.” Dignum et justum est or in English, it is right and just.

  2. If Judge Colas found both state AND federal Constitutional grounds for overturning the law, doesn’t that imply that the WI Supreme Court CAN’T overturn this ruling on their own?

    1. He’s a circuit court judge for the state of Wisconsin; he’s not a federal judge. He can cite federal law all he wants but that doesn’t make his ruling above review by the State Supreme Court.

  3. I assume this doesn’t help those of us who lost our locals because members couldn’t or wouldn’t recertify?

  4. Sorry, you overstate the ruling, as everything I read is that it does not cover a huge number of public employees — state employees, still stuck with Walker’s huge increases in health insurance and pension insurance and still robbed of our collective bargaining rights.

    Why does this ruling not cover state workers? I’m looking and looking and not finding an explanation.

    I’m angrier than ever. School and local employees, remember how it felt for police and fire employees to be exempted from Act 10? Now, you are, too.

    But state workers still are stuck with Act 10. Why? And will you still stand with us to fight for our rights?

  5. Please!!! This judge is clearly in the pocket of WEAC. We “regular working” people pay out big for our health and pension benefits without the right to negotiate with our employers. I don’t need to fund their health care and pension while I pay a higher percentage of my salary for mine. Where is the fairness in that? Pay what everyone else does!

    1. Benefits are part of a compensation package. When you accept a job, you agree to the package. A certain amount on your check, and a certain amount for your benefits. Every single person I know working in a professional job has benefits provided to them that are separate than the money on their check. Cindy, you are clueless. At the university, we accept lower salaries because we have pretty good benefits. This ridiculous assumption that we should ‘pay our fair share’ is an oversimplification of the system. We have lost 100’s of employees who have left because of this. The majority of my friends who work in the private sector have better benefits (provided by the employer) and better pay.

    2. Cindy,
      Respectfully, please do not categorize all of us (teachers) in to one clump. I don’t like having to pay for a higher percentage of my insurance, but I understand the need for it; I don’t like paying in to my pension fund, but I understand the need for it. I personally do not know of anyone who has a pension fund that is 100% funded by their employer. As I said, I don’t like it, but I completely understand the need for it.

    3. Cindy, yours is an argument in favor of unionization, not an argument against. Perhaps if you and your co-workers organized, you’d be able to barter a better deal from your employer.

      Instead, you’d rather complain about the pay and benefits of folks like corrections officers, who do a job I’m willing to bet you couldn’t be paid enough to do.

  6. Cindy, you are NOT paying a cent for my health insrance and pension funds as a public employee.

    Not. A. Cent.

    Those come from my paycheck. Repeat: MY paycheck.

    If you disagree that when I earn it with my work, it’s my money . . . then just hand over your paycheck to me, because it’s mine, because I bought the products of your business.

    And if you disagree, you are also a criminal, a thief.

    And remember what Jesus said about thieves. Repent, Cindy, and admit your transgressions, before you lose what’s left of your blackened, sinful soul.

    1. 100% of the cost of your health care and pension are from your paycheck? I don’t think so! You have been fed a bunch of lies from your beloved union thugs who extort money from your paycheck.

      1. It is called deferred compensation. When I accepted the job the benefits package was part of the offer. My salary is not competitive with the skills, experience, education and duties assigned. The state has long known and, before Walker, admitted it to the employees. People want high quality services and they need to understand that has a cost. Stop bitching and move to Alabama if you want low taxes, no infrastructure and shitty schools.

        As for why the lawsuit applies to teachers and local staff but not the state employee, it is because the laws controlling bargaining for state employees are different than the laws controlling bargaining at the local and school level. The Judge’s ruling struck down the Act 10 rules related to the municipal bargaining not the state. The state employees union was not party to the lawsuit because the state employees union was and is fighting in the federal courts and was party to Ozanne’s open meetings suit. This ruling doesnt immediately restore benefits and bargaining to state workers but it does help establish some potential precedents in our favor in our legal fights.

      2. “Union thugs?”

        Define “union thugs” for me. Am I a “union thug?”

        Are corrections officers who support their unions “union thugs?” What about those firefighters and police officers who stood in solidarity with public employees – are they “union thugs” too?

      3. Stupid forgotmyscreenname, I am not nor was I ever a “union thug,” because I am in the group of state employees whom, by state law, you banned from having collective bargaining rights for decades. And when we finally won them, but before we ever got the opportunity even to vote about whether to unionize, Walker stole them.

        That oughtat tell you something — that I’m in the group of state employees so scary that our finally winning the right to bargain made Walker run so scared that he pushed through Act 10 without writing it well.

        The message? Fear me, stupid fool forgetmyscreenname who does not know the facts. I do. So: Fear me.

        1. Interesting that you say that you don’t consider yourelf a union thug and then go on to say that I should fear you.

          I never said all union members were union thugs. I’m talking about the leaders, and of course some of the members who have demonstrated that they deal in intimidation tactics. Don’t tell me the bosses don’t strongarm their members when they get out of line. What about the letter that da union put out threatening to boycott businesses if they didn’t put signs of support in their windows. What about the shouting and thuggish behavior at the Capitol. That’s who I am talking about.

          1. Way to move the goalposts, goober. And what thuggish behavior at the capitol (other than the actions of the CP, that is)?

            1. How exactly have I moved the goalposts? I can see you never miss a chance to start the name calling either. Seems to be the norm on here.

              Like you really have to ask about what thuggish behavior? Pouring beer over a legislator’s head, yelling and calling them names on a daily basis, generally harassing them, shouting down children, and let’s not forget harassing a reporter so much that she had to move her office outside of the Capitol.

  7. Cindy, why don’t you move to China, or some other place the U.S. offshores jobs?

    You want prosperity? The numbers don’t lie, support unions.


    Without unions, the 1% soak up all money.

    I bought all of Reagan’s “trickle-down,” shtick. Wish I had known then what I know now. We’ve been lowering the MARGINAL tax rates on the 1% since the Eisenhower administrations.

    “Top Marginal Tax rates 1916 – 2011”


    NOTHING ever “trickled down.” They just used those tax breaks to buy both parties and the media.

  8. Cindy,

    Your view exemplifies what occurs when divide and conquer, envy-inducing propaganda infects our society. Migosh is right. You do not fund public employee health care and pension packages. You are not only misinformed, you are disinformed. Your attitude is inspired by the very worst elements which have convinced you that public employees are somehow not “regular working people.” You should be ashamed of such a thought, and you should be ashamed for allowing yourself to be gulled by twisted political warfare rhetoric. Just listen to yourself. If you stopped envying for a moment to think rationally you’d find that your anger is misplaced. Yes, it would be nice for ALL people to have the right to negotiate with their employers wouldn’t it? Were you to take a sensible view of the matter you’d realize that supporting public employee unions and safeguarding collective bargaining is the single most important path toward economic independence for ALL working people in this country.

    But what do you do, Cindy? Do you throw your support behind those REGULAR WORKING PEOPLE who are desperately struggling to maintain a democratic existence within our decaying democratic republic? No. Instead, you belch out your puerile bellyaching spite which is laden with invidious resentment. Did it ever occur to you that THEIR struggle is YOUR struggle? Did it ever occur to you that what fails or succeeds in the public sector impacts working people in the private sector?

    I find these comments of yours of particular interest:

    “Where’s the fairness in that?”

    “Pay what everyone else does!”

    Fairness? Do you really mean that? Fairness? Fairness is universal unionization and universal healthcare. There is no fairness in a “competitive” “free” market orchestrated by non-human, corporate-elite entities. Fairness would be your ability, Cindy, to do what you moan you can’t do – work in a democratic environment so you and your fellow workers are not soaked to the bone by authorities more powerful than your single, solitary, petty-begrudging self.

    Pay what everyone else does! Do you really mean that? Is there some sort of equal compensation payment package in the private sector that the entire world except for you are unaware of? Are you pissing and moaning in a canny direction? Are you sputtering your outrage at those who in actuality are scraping the skin off your back and living high and dandy off your flailed, ignorant carcass?

    No. You’re not. You are battering the last bastion of financial independence in America because your light bulb either never went on or was dimmed into oblivion. If you are so indignant at the injustice of your inability to collectively bargain, put your ire to good use. Support Wisconsin’s public employee unions and fight for unionization of every American worker and don’t stop fighting until we have an actual, not de facto, democracy where all Americans exist with actual, not de facto, self-determining liberty.

  9. It will be interesting to see how many Republican controlled school districts will decide to ignore the Judge’s decision thus resulting in more litigation at the local level.

  10. I guess my first question is does this look like it will stick or will the WI Supreme Court just overturn it? In other words are people getting all excited (or pissed off, depending on what side you’re on) over nothing?

  11. OK, let me get this straight.

    Republican J.B. Van Hollen was elected Attorney General of Wisconsin because 20,000 more ballots were counted for him in Waukesha County than were cast.

    Van Hollen takes on the obvious conflict of interest by agreeing to be Tommy Thompson’s campaign chair in Tommy’s run for the Senate Seat now held by Herb Kohl.

    As AG, Van Hollen is trying to get the (Republican-stacked) State Supreme Court to bypass normal judicial routes and take on the “voter ID” bill that a lower court ruled unconstitutional. A bill purportedly designed to solve a problem that has never existed.

    What conflict of interest?

    He must arrested just like walker for lying to congress 15 times. They are all convicts

  12. How much more time and money do we need to waste on this, when it’s already been decided over and over and over again.

    1. Citations, please? Because evidently, it hasn’t been decided.

      And did you read the decision? If you had, you’d find that the judge made the same case for granting unions rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments as was made for corporations under Citizen’s United. You’re a conservative judge, what will you do?

  13. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizen’s United that money equals speech and that corporations are people, therefore preventing some unions from collecting dues through the workplace while allowing others to do so is a violation of free speech rights, the right to free association and equal protection under the law.

    The attempt by the “small government” Republicans to usurp the power of local government to manage it’s affairs has also come back to bite the extremist Cons in the ass. They are caught in their own trap. Idiots.

    1. Bingo Gareth. Right of free association and “speech” goes both ways.

      And you know the other reason this was struck down? Because of Walker’s political decision to use divider and conquer and pay back the fire fighters and cops for supporting him in 2010 by exempting them from Act 10. Both the public safety officers and Judge Colas saw right through that.

      And spare me the “live within our means” BS. Walker chose to shrink the means by giving tax cuts to corporate contributors, and threw hundreds of millions of additional dollars to the Road Builders. This was a partisan political choice to damage public education and public services and funnel money to private sector profiteers. PERIOD. What losers like Cindy don’t realize is I also pay for YOUR healthcare because you’re in the same insurance pool I am. Stop being a sucker and stop talking about things of which you have no clue.

      Now this corrupt Administration has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars by causing all this strife…and FOR WHAT? Just wait till local governments have to make up all the back pay caused by taking on the now-illegal Act 10 provisions.

  14. Hollywood should make a tragicomedy movie based on the sad/comical political events and characters in an imaginary mid western state If so,the following fictional names should be used to protect the guilty.

    Governor: Larry the target Walker

    Attorney General: Moe bad cop Van Holland

    Judge: Curly the strangler Prosser

    Visitor #1: Laurel the fixer Koch

    Visitor #2: Hardy the fixer Koch

Comments are closed.