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.

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  1. Jesus fuck, this shit is STILL going on ?
    Act 10 was passed what, 4 years ago?

    1. The courts move slowly.

      1. As do most things where people get paid by the hour.

  2. One side has a “fundamental right” to bargain, but I guess the other side doesn’t. Because there’s no bargaining going on unless you can walk away from the deal, and labor law doesn’t allow the employer to do that.

    As I told my CFO the other day: “If you can’t walk away, you aren’t bargaining, you’re begging.”

    1. Maybe this should be the next Iron Law.

  3. city employees “negotiating” with other city employees. Yeah, no problem there.

    1. City and state employees that they lobby and heavily donate too. What conflict of interest?

  4. I don’t know that I particularly care about Gov. Walker, but I do enjoy the progressive’s salty ham tears every time he kicks them in the pants. He is actually one of the few politicians that have figured out how to consistently thwart them in any measurable way.

    I have a few progressive acquaintances from WI on FB. I can’t wait to bask in the schadenfreude as they hyperventilate themselves into a frenzy over this.

  5. Stupid court. Public sector collective bargaining IS a constitutional right. Like the right to health care and to not be exposed to hate speech or microagression from cis white males.

    Someday the people will take charge and the re-education camps will be filled. Join me, comrades!

  6. From what I saw when I worked in the public sector in WI, the unions were useless. The union officers were all high-senior employees who were only worried about what would directly benefit them as individuals — not the agency as a whole, not fellow employees (i.e. the lower-senior ones), and certainly not the clients. I’ve found the work environment much better in non-union states.

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