Wisconsin Judge Holds Firm on Right-to-Work Ruling

IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Phil Gruber speaks during a rally opposing Wisconsin’s “right-to-work” bill before the state’s GOP-majority legislature passed the measure in February 2015. (Photo: Ben Brewer for The New York Times)

A Wisconsin Circuit Court judge who sided with the IAM and other unions by ruling the state’s “right-to-work” law unconstitutional has denied the state’s request to stay the ruling. This means the state will not be able to enforce the law while it is being appealed to the higher court.

IAM District 10 in Milwaukee, the Wisconsin AFL-CIO and United Steelworkers District 2 in Menasha, WI argued against the stay this week in court.

“The current non-members who are required to pay for the services they receive is not very significant irreparable harm compared to the size of the loss suffered by the unions – in that they are required to provide services without fees,” said Dane County, WI Judge William Foust.

“We are pleased with Judge Foust’s decision stating clearly again that right-to-work is unconstitutional in the state of Wisconsin,” said Wisconsin AFL-CIO President and IAM member Phil Neuenfeldt. “Rather than respecting the constitution, Gov. Walker and Attorney General Brad Schimel are trying every legal maneuver in the book to advance their own partisan agenda and deny workers their right to a meaningful union.”

The Wisconsin law is almost a word-for-word copy of what the Big Business-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) proposes for right-to-work legislation, which guts unions by making it illegal for companies and workers to negotiate contracts that require union-represented workers to pay their fair share of collective bargaining costs.

The average worker in a right-to-work state makes $5,971 less than non-right-to-work states, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The state is expected to challenge Foust’s decision in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals.