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WI Supreme Court upholds 2011 union law

MADISON – Last week the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided to uphold the 2011 law that ended collective bargaining for most public workers.

The union law generated massive protests around the state capitol with a large majority being teachers. The end to collective bargaining led to Governor Scott Walker’s recall election.

The WI Supreme Court upheld the law on a 5-2 vote last Thursday, July 31 under a challenge filed by the Madison teachers union and a union representing Milwaukee public workers.

The union groups argued that the law violated workers’ constitutional rights to free assembly and equal protection.

The law has also been upheld twice by the a federal appeals court and called constitutional.

When collective bargaining ended, that meant union workers lost their ability to have a say in things such as benefits, benefit providers, their hours of work, their retirement and salary as well.

In addition, an agreement or settlement had to be reached between the employer and union for a new contract to be issued. If nothing could be agreed upon by the two parties, a third-party arbitrator was hired to make the decision on conditions of employment.

Now, since Act 10 has been put into place, the only item that is negotiable is salary. But there is a maximum cap of whatever the previous year’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) was.

In terms of a school district, there would have to be a public referendum if the salary amount is wished to exceed the CPI.