Judge Voids Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Law

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The fight over stripping collective bargaining rights from Wisconsin’s public workers will move into the state Supreme Court, and possibly back into the Legislature, after a judge ruled Thursday to strike down the law that passed despite massive protests that paralyzed the Capitol.

Republican backers of Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal said they were confident the state Supreme Court would overturn the judge’s ruling that the law is void because lawmakers broke open meetings statutes during the approval process. She had temporarily blocked the law shortly after it passed in March.

The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear arguments in the case on June 6. Republicans who control the Legislature also could pass the measure a second time to avoid the open meeting violations.

Still, Democrats and union leaders who helped organize protests against the measure that grew to as large as 85,000 people praised the victory, even if it could be fleeting.

“It tells legislators `You can’t be arrogant,”‘ said Marty Beil, executive director of the state’s largest public employee union. “You have to do it in the light of day. You can’t take stuff away from people in a backroom deal.”

Mary Bell, president of the state’s largest teachers’ union, said she hoped the judge’s ruling would lead to lawmakers reconsidering passing the law again.

“It is not in the best interest of students, schools or Wisconsin’s future to take the voices of educators out of our classrooms,” Bell said in a statement. “We’ve seen how this issue has polarized our state.”

The last time the Legislature took up the issue, tens of thousands of protesters, including many teachers, descended on Madison in a futile attempt to persuade lawmakers to reject the proposal. The protests lasted for weeks and made Wisconsin the center of a national debate on union rights. Meanwhile, all 14 Democratic senators fled to Illinois to prevent a 20-member quorum to pass the bill. Senate Republicans eventually called a special committee meeting with roughly two hours’ notice so it could amend the bill to take out spending items to avoid the quorum requirement.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi noted in her ruling Thursday that the open meetings law typically calls for 24-hours’ notice of meetings, or, in cases with just cause, two hours. Sumi said nothing justified such short notice and declared the law void.

“Our form of government depends on citizens’ trust and confidence in the process by which our elected officials make laws, at all levels of government,” she wrote.

The Legislature’s budget committee’s Republican co-chairs reacted by labeling Sumi an “activist” judge. Sumi was appointed to the bench by former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson.

Walker pushed for the law as a way to help balance the state budget that was projected to be $3.6 billion short when he introduced the proposal in February. Walker was counting on the savings to help blunt the impact of more than $1 billion in aid cuts to schools and local governments he’s calling for in his budget, which could be ready to be debated in the Senate and Assembly in mid-June.

Walker’s spokesman Cullen Werwie said the governor would have no comment. Walker told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he would discuss his options with the state’s attorneys, but whether there’s an attempt to pass the bill again in the Legislature will depend largely on what the Supreme Court does.

Wisconsin Department of Justice executive assistant Steve Means said Sumi’s ruling was disappointing and that he was confident the Supreme Court would overturn the decision. The Justice Department argued that the lower court judge had no authority to block enactment of a bill passed by the Legislature.

Ismael Ozanne, the Dane County district attorney who argued for striking down the law, said he was now focused on preparing for the Supreme Court arguments.

On Wednesday, the day before the ruling, the Justice Department sent Sumi a letter urging her to consider recusing because she appears biased against the Republicans. The agency pointed to a brief she filed with the Supreme Court outlining her belief that she has the authority to void a law if the open meetings law was violated during its passage, saying she shouldn’t have set out her position before she issued a decision.

A message left at Sumi’s chambers Thursday wasn’t immediately returned.

The collective bargaining law called for public workers at all levels, from janitors at the state Capitol to local librarians, to contribute more to their pension and health care costs, resulting in savings to the state of $300 million through mid-2013. The law also strips them of their right to collectively bargain any work conditions except wages. Police and firefighters are exempt.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Good Ol Boy

    Scott Walker = Evil Sith Lord

    • Give me liberty

      Go back to your fantasy world boy. Tough decisions take real men of character.

      • katydid

        Real men of character don’t cater to the wealthy and their corporations while making the poor and middle class take all the cuts.

        • Julie

          Have you every had to pay close to 50% in taxes,no?, Then zip it and get the facts before you make a comment.
          There’s no such thing as a “free lunch”

          • Reasonable

            Actually I did, but that was when I worked at Blockbuster Video for a little over a year after High School and before college. Ever since then my taxes as a % of income have gone down drastically. My effective tax rate now is 7% in the $50-60k range whereas it was closer to 12% back then. Go figure!

            What most people fail to realize in the tax equation is that as your income goes up, so does your ability to get rid of it and hide it. Now that I’m making 7x my minimum wage income, I’m able to invest my money into IRAs and 401(k)s to reduce my taxable income, all the while providing myself a retirement income when the time comes. My expenses aren’t all that large, but they’re about 50% of my income. On minimum wage they’d be greater than my income, nor would I be able to save any money to reduce my tax burden while planning for retirement.

            Seriously, just because we have it easy doesn’t mean we should frown upon people that don’t. That’s very unchristian of you. Remember, your Jesus wanted to help the sick and the poor not prove the false dichotomy of trickle down and supply side economic theory.

            • LoveItOrLeaveIt

              Well said! A reasoned, fact based post! Kudos to you!

        • Sarah

          There should have been a 20 percent reduction in the overpaid state work force. And then no collective bargaining. Liberal employees and liberal Judges. Quite a dual.

          • Paulie

            You just don’t know what you are talking about.

          • Right on!

            Right on Sarah!! Down with overaid union employees and their defunct pension plans. “Tenured” system – the absolute height of mediocrity!

        • Tracey

          You mean like the unions that donated 23 million dollars last year to the campaigns of the democrats!

          • Shannon

            And corporations donate to the GOP. Your point?

      • Good Ol Boy

        Real men of character don’t call strangers with better jobs than them a “boy” or say they live in a fantasy world. Nice try. Swing and a miss.

    • Cat in the Hat

      Not unless having a backbone makes you an evil sith lord.

  • WHAT?????

    Just like Walker cannot make laws up to get his way. That is what happened and the judge said this was unlawful. Did you read the story Victim? If you did you should have read this, or are you just making things up to support him even though it was not legal? Thought so but keep trying.

    • Give me liberty

      Walker is not making laws up. The judge over turned this on a technicality of not providing 24 hour notice of the meeting which is riduculous because all of the Democrats were hiding in Illinios and were not going to show up anyway.

      • WHAT?????

        Give me liberty
        How is that not making up a law? He knew you need a 24 hour notice and did not do it. If he did not know this he should not be leading the state or should hire a better staff. Hence this is not legal no matter how your little mind wants to view it. Ignorance is no excuse is what people are told if they break a law. So you are telling me this should not apply to politicians? Even though the Dems were not there you still need to play by the rules.
        Funny how if this was the Dems that tried to pull this you would be all over them but not since it is the GOP. I do not affiliate with either side, I would rather follow the person and not the party as there will always be flawed people on both sides. Never could understand how people can blindly follow a party as this is just a stupid idea and no better than having a King in place if that is what you are loyal to for no reason.

  • Cat in the Hat

    Non union taxpayers paying for union workers salaries so that they can have things that non union taxpayers typically can’t have even though they work just as hard if not harder = total BS.

    • katydid

      Hmm, if they are all taxpayers, how can only one group pay for the other group? They don’t. If you think unions have higher wages, then the union workers are paying more in taxes. If you want better benefits, then change your work situation.

      • Cat in the Hat

        Because on group gets their wages paid by employers the other by taxpayers, that’s how, and if I wanted better working conditions or wages the that’s exactly what I’ll do is look for another work situation as opposed to protesting until I get my way like a toddler.

        • Paul

          Protesting like a toddler? Or protesting like the American Way? It seems like you’re jealous you aren’t part of a union. Rather then blame the people smart enough to join a union, maybe you should consider joining one.

          • All Unions not the same

            The only reason we have public workers unions (other unions are OK and not included in this discussion, please do not mix the two) is because they vote for Democrats who in turn pay them back by supporting them ripping off the tax payer. (non-government non-public employee unions do not get paid with tax dollars so they are OK) again it is the public government public unions vote buying by Democrats that we hate so much.

          • Cat in the Hat

            Protesting only for the benefit of your union is the union way. I’m not jealous and my employer treats me more than fairly and I didn’t have to bargain for it because I knew what I was signing up for.

            • LoveItOrLeaveIt

              Cat in the Hat, you “knew whar I was signing up for”. Of course, and so did the union workers. It’s not fair to change the rules in the middle of the game. How would you like it if tomorrow you’re employer took all your vacation and personal time off days away, would only contribute 2% to your health care, and only gave you one 15 minute break and 1/2 hour for lunch? (Those are ALL less than you receive now, I presume.) You’d cry like a little girl, I’m sure. It’s not fair to change the rules during the game.

            • Michele

              Cat, the employers also knew what they were signing up for. What I DON’T get, is being cool with government reneging on its promises. How do you know that YOU won’t be next?

    • union wages are fair

      I have not seen a non-union worker work harder – maybe dumber – but not harder. Please remember the union wages are what is deemed fair pay for the work, if you want to take away the union you better be prepared to work for $5.00 an hour, and yes change your work situation to a union job if you want better pay, unless you have no skills…….then you are stuck at Wal-Mart, they are not union and have great pay….hahahaha

      • Cat in the Hat

        My non union wages are fair too and If for some reason I had to replace a lightbulb at work (which I wouldn’t) I would replace the light bulb as opossed to hiring a non union electrician to do it for me because it’s not in my job description and that wouldn’t be fair.

        • teabaghater

          what a joke like in minn. rich pay 8% every one else 12% but if we ask them to pay the same its raising taxes? wow

    • PS

      so your saying that Union workers don’t pay taxes ! your a bigger MORON than scotty walker

    • As jack said...

      Sounds like the non unions should form a union to insure that they are rewarded for their hard work that seems to be ignored by their employers. You see when people collectively gather to address a grievance with the powerful, the employer in your example that is powerful, and collective action is the basis of democracy. Just like the founding fathers petitioned the British king for representation but when it wasn’t granted by the king they COLLECTIVELY ORGANIZED AND TOOK ACTION AGAINST TYRANNY. So you see unions are one form of Democracy. Democracy has never been gained by the individual acting alone but BY MANY ACTING TOGETHER.

  • Lance

    They didn’t -it was struck down because of open meeting laws.

  • katydid

    But there is something that says for the people by the people…but Walker only cares about his big donors.

  • Katydid

    I love Scott Walker

    • Katydid



  • HatCat

    Because one group gets their salaries paid by employers the other from taxpayers that’s how.

    • rg

      wrong both groups are paid by thier employer. State workers are paid by thier employer, the government.

  • John Marshall

    This is why we have separation of powers and checks and balances. The Judiciary has the job of determining whether acts of a legislature or actions of the executive are Constitutional.

    What’s truly sad is when people disagree with a ruling, the judges are “activist”. When the court upholds a ruling, it’s “see, I told you so!’

    Must be difficult to have two faces………………….

  • no tea

    Ha ha teabagging sacksuckers.

  • Jon Lindquist

    “The law called for public workers at all levels, from janitors at the state Capitol to local librarians, to contribute more to their pension and health care costs, resulting in savings to the state of $300 million through mid-2103.”

    are we sure wisconsin will still be a state come that year? twenty-one O three?

    • LoveItOrLeaveIt

      That’s what I thought to! 3.26 million in savings per year? THAT’s what this fight was about??!! What a joke! Actually, it wasn’t about the money. It goes deeper than that. It’s about lowering wages by eliminating unions, STARTING with the public ones. Lowering wages leaves more profit for the socially bankrupt corporations. I’ve long ago stopped listening to the reason Republicans give for the action they propose. It ALWAYS goes deeper than that.

  • Mark W

    “You have to do it in the light of day. You can’t take stuff away from people in a backroom deal.”
    Right. And you can’t take your ball and leave to Illinois when you start losing the game.

    Aside: Does anyone realize that this law would, essentially, make the collective bargaining of Wisconsin state union workers equal to those of federal government employees? Is that really so bad?

  • GN

    Hate to disagree with you katydid but the rich need a healthy middleclass to continue on. Its the folks like yourself that are misguilded by the union bosses.
    You’ll find that the biggest corporate welfare costs were initiated by the Democrats such as farm welfare, Davis Bacon Act, Railroad Disabilities Act, Corn based Ethanol, Social Security and Medicare for any and everyone — so on and so forth, it never ends. This is what is stripping the middle class. Look all these programs up and the costs to administer these programs (government employees and infrastructure) you’ll find who is really ripping off this country.

    • LoveItOrLeaveIt

      You forgot the Prescription Drug Plan! OOOOPS! THAT was a Republican “welfare” cost. My bad! LOL

      BTW, if there were NO safety net programs, we wouldn’t have to be concerned about living too long if you’re old, or have a disability, or born premature. The Republicans only help the strong and wealthy. I don’t know if in their eyes one can ever be “too strong”, but I’m sure they believe one can NEVER be too rich! Show me a self-made billionaire, and I’ll show you a Democrat. The rest either inherited it, or kicked down every one who got in his way. They are the Republicans.

  • Cat in the Hat


  • Paul

    Justice has been served

  • Koch brothers

    Exactly, just like corporations have no rights as well, right vic?

  • Kevin

    I am getting so tired of people using the government to control other people. Making them live a certain way, making them pay for things they don’t want, and on and on into the night. Government has gotten way to big and into too many things that it has no business in. I think Gov. Walker has seen this too, and finally somebody has the balls to do something about it.

  • Pavel

    From the comments I read at the beginning, it is easy to see some of you “constitutionalists” don’t have a clue. This law violated the “open meeting law” and hence, was struck down.

    If you don’t understand English ask someone to help you interpret what you read.

    • Kevin

      The law violated the open meeting law and that is why it was struck down. But everybody knows that there are ways around that, including rewriting the law.

      If you don’t understand politics, ask someone to help you interpret what you read.

      • WHAT?????

        Did you have a point or were you trying to be an a$$? Pavel actually made sense and explained something, you post the exact words from the story and it looks like you were just trying to start a fight. If you have nothing to state that is contributing to the conversation maybe you should leave the posting to the adults.

      • aholehater

        politics are for a holes

  • different Unions

    The only reason we have public workers unions (other unions are OK and not included in this discussion, please do not mix the two) is because they vote for Democrats who in turn pay them back by supporting them ripping off the tax payer. (non-government non-public employee unions do not get paid with tax dollars so they are OK) again it is the public government public unions vote buying by Democrats that we hate so much.

  • Wisconsin Tea

    The bottom line….this is FAR from over! So either side claiming “victory” proves how foolish you are.

    I support Gov Walker and HOPE this gets resolved, but this is proof of “politics as usual”. The GOP went through the correct way of creating a law, and Dems ran away like baby’s KNOWING it would cause an issue in the future…bottom line.

    Will the “correct” thing get done? WHO KNOWS! We see all KINDS of “incorrect” things get done by the judicial system! (The killer who gets 1 year and probation over life in jail) I would like to know how many Judges are on the take from one side or another. The whole system is corrupt and unfair.

    Still…..you all can claim victory…..it’s just how long you will be a winner….or a whiner….

    • WHAT?????

      Who is claiming victory other than 1 comment by Marty Beil? I must have missed that in the story because that is the only thing I can see where that is stated in the story or in the posts. If that is what you are looking at then way to go in lumping everyone in on 1 persons comment. I seem to remember you posting on many stories that you get upset when someone tries to put words in your mouth and then you go and do the same? No irony in that is there?

      • Victor-tea

        @What????? That’s funny…I guess I was using a blanket statement to PREVENT anyone from claiming victory….As I don’t see anywhere in my post where I state a specific person “claiming victory….”

        BUT, can you tell me that a statement like “Justice Is Served” in NOT “claiming victory? Justice has NOT been “served”. A stoke of a corrupt judicial ruling has been issued!

        Even though the word verbatim was not used…there are plenty of union supporters here claiming “victory” that the BS ruling made is the “final” word in this issue…..

        • WHAT?????

          Again I do not see your point at all. If it is not legal to have the vote unless you give a 24 hour notice and this was not done then what are you fighting about. Everyone that is posting here should know that they will just give the notice and put it through again. Therefore I have no idea why people are getting bent out of shape and doing the old “Dems are wrong no GOP is wrong” game as it never solves anything just like the rest of the posting that is done on the politics page. I was simply stating that you yourself have post that you do not like to be lumped in with everyone else and you are doing it yourself. As far as the statement of “Justice Is Served”, that is not claiming victory but claiming exactly what it states. This would be justice too as 1s again the rules were not followed and when they are corrected that would be justice. If you cannot see this maybe a dictionary would need to be involved to see what meanings words really have. I am not trying to start a fight as this would be futile on this issue as I stated since this will be corrected in the proper way sooner or later, but at least get things right when you are talking about it this time.

          • tea-ch me

            Thank you for your civil response…..I can see your point…and to a point I am “agreeing” with you? The reasons behind the 24 hour notice and lack of the follow through to me is just a reason for the other side to grasp @ straws and continue to drag the issues out……but if they didn’t do this, I guess someone would screen due diligence.
            I am unsure what you mean about posts about grouping me with other posters….but who knows….I may have said that….so I can’t tell you you’re wrong.
            We will see what the future holds…..I just have a feeling it will revert back to the original ruling one way of the other…

            • Judge ju-tea

              Oh..and I forgot to mention the judge is supported by the democrats…..again..just another check next to the corrupt judicial system in the US!!!!

  • a-worker-bee

    a union is a business – they represent themselves

    if you do not pay dues, you do not play with their toys and they have the bullying tactics to keep you in place

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