Federal Court Upholds Wisconsin Limits on Collective Bargaining By Government Workers


In a ruling issued today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit handed Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker a victory in his efforts to change state law governing labor relations with government employees. According to the AFL-CIO, Wisconsin's Act 10, which had largely prohibited collective bargaining by public-sector workers, violated the rights of the state's municipal employees. But the 7th Circuit disagreed, ruling today:

The unions…assert that "[t]he ability of municipal employees to engage in the activity of bargaining collectively with their employers, in the hope of reaching a voluntary agreement regarding their wages and other conditions of employment, is a fundamental right." The unions further aver that both the Supreme Court and our court have long recognized that the Constitution protects this right….

None of those cases [cited by the unions] establish what the unions assert here: that they have a constitutional entitlement to collectively bargain with the state. And we find that the unions' contention that this is a long-standing fundamental right difficult to square with the fact that several states have prohibited public-sector collective bargaining over at least some topics.

The 7th Circuit's ruling in Laborers Local 236, AFL-CIO v. Walker is available here.

Read Reason's coverage of the collective bargaining debate in Wisconsin here.