MADISON — A Wisconsin court has struck down the state's right-to-work law championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker, calling it unconstitutional.
A Dane County Circuit Court judge issued the ruling Friday in a lawsuit filed by local unions. Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel promised to appeal the order, saying: "We are confident the law will be upheld on appeal."
The Wisconsin AFL-CIO, Machinists Local Lodge 1061 in Milwaukee and United Steelworkers District 2 in Menasha filed the lawsuit last year.
The groups argued that the law was an unconstitutional seizure of union property because it required unions to extend benefits to workers who don't pay dues.
We have received the following statements from officials on the court's decision:
Attorney General Brad Schimel
“We are extremely disappointed that the Dane County Circuit Court struck down Wisconsin’s right-to-work law, but we are confident the law will be upheld on appeal.”
Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca
“This ruling is a victory for workers’ rights and middle class families. Middle class Wisconsin workers are in crisis and so-called ‘Right to Work’ laws have been shown to drive down wages and economic growth. The extreme right-wing Republican agenda has been incredibly harmful to working people and businesses in Wisconsin. It is especially disturbing to me that the ‘Right to Work’ bill was rammed through the legislature in a matter of weeks, yet Republicans took no meaningful action this session to grow Wisconsin’s economy and rebuild the middle class.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos
“Once again a liberal Dane County judge is trying to legislate from the bench. No one should be forced to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. I’m confident that this decision will be reversed in a higher court and worker freedom will prevail.”
State Sen. Jennifer Shilling
"Everyone knew that 'Right to Work' laws would drive down family wages and interfere in private business contracts. Now we also know that this special interest attack on working families and locally-owned businesses is unconstitutional. This ruling is a major victory for hardworking Wisconsin families. Rather than wasting taxpayer dollars to defend the wishes of out-of-state special interest groups, the Department of Justice should side with Wisconsin families and allow this ruling to stand."
Democratic Party of Wisconsin
"Today’s ruling confirms what families across the state have known for over a year now - that the so-called “Right to Work” legislation is an unlawful attack on wages and workplace rights. We applaud the decision by Wisconsin's judicial system and urge Governor Walker and his administration to avoid wasting taxpayer dollars on protracted legal battles and appeals. “Right to Work” laws have been shown again and again to drive down wages and harm economic growth - all to benefit CEO’s and out-of-state special interests. It’s time for Scott Walker and his GOP allies in the legislature to abandon their unconstitutional attacks on Wisconsin workers once and for all.
"Today’s ruling made it clear just how critical it is to elect new leadership in Wisconsin. Democrats believe that hard work should always be rewarded - not only with good wages, but also with respect, strong workplace protections, and the right to organize. We applaud the court's decision and look forward to helping to elect leaders who will respect the rule of law and side with hard-working Wisconsin families over greedy special interests."
John Mielke, President of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin
“It is unfortunate to see a Dane County judge overturn Wisconsin’s right-to-work law. Judge Foust’s argument for his ruling has been repeatedly rejected by state and federal courts throughout the nation, and I expect our state’s law to be similarly upheld upon appeal. ABC of Wisconsin fully supports Attorney General Brad Schimel’s decision to appeal the ruling. Our members believe that every worker in Wisconsin deserves the freedom to choose whether or not they belong to a union and that no one should be forced to pay union dues without consent.”
Phil Neuenfeldt, President of Wisconsin AFL-CIO
“Today, the courts put a needed check on Scott Walker’s attacks on working families by ruling that Wisconsin’s Right to Work law is in violation of our state constitution. Right to Work goes against the Wisconsin principles of fairness and democracy and hurts all of Wisconsin by eroding the strength of our middle class. Right to Work has always been unjust, now it’s proven unconstitutional.”
Senator Chris Larson
"Today is a huge victory for Wisconsin workers. The court ruling striking down RTW restores some of Wisconsin’s tradition of protecting worker freedom. Republicans forcing RTW through the Legislature last year was a betrayal of Wisconsin’s shared values.
“Just over a year ago, at the committee hearing on the damaging RTW scheme, Republicans abruptly shut down debate, silenced the voices of those who waited for hours to be heard, and forced a vote on a bill that diminishes worker health and safety and increases poverty.
“At a time when Walker and legislative Republicans are choosing corporate profiteering and special interests over protecting the rights of our neighbors, today’s court decision restores the voice of the majority of the people in Wisconsin who know that RTW laws are wrong for Wisconsin.”