Key portions of Governor Scott Walker's controversial legislation limiting collective bargaining -- or Act 10 -- were ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge yesterday. The court ruled that the law, which has sparked a recall campaign against the Wisconsin governor, creates an arbitrary, and possibly politically-motivated distinction between "public safety" employees and other public employees. This, according to the court, violates the Equal Protection Clause in the Constitution and the First Amendment.
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A federal judge has struck down key provisions of Act 10 -- Governor Scott Walker's controversial legislation limiting collective bargaining -- on grounds that the arbitrary, possibly politically-motivated distinction between "public safety" and other public employees violated equal protection and First Amendment rights.
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Several public employee unions had challenged the fact that Walker's bill exempted certain law enforcement and firefighter's unions from Act 10's restrictions, including the law's requirement that unions recertify annually with an absolute majority of members and its prohibition on voluntary union dues deductions.
"So long as the State of Wisconsin continues to afford ordinary certification and dues deductions to mandatory public safety unions with sweeping bargaining rights, there is no rational basis to deny those rights to voluntary general unions with severely restricted bargaining rights," wrote U.S. District Judge William M. Conley.
The suit was filed by multiple public employee unions, including the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the Wisconsin Council of County and Municipal Employees, multiple district councils of the AFL-CIO and AFSCME, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, CTW, CLC; American Federation for Teachers - Wisconsin; and the Wisconsin State Employees Union. Defendants in the suit included Governor Walker and head of the Department of Administration Michael Huebsch, as well as the heads of the offices tasked with implementing the law.
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