The Heartland Institute | Wisconsin Judge Declares State’s Right-to-Work Law Unconstitutional

Wisconsin, Dane County Court Judge William Foust has ruled that the state right-to-work law violates labor union’s legal entitlement to money earned by public workers. Many large unions have collaborated their efforts in the lawsuit to overturn Wisconsin’s right-to-work law, which was signed by Gov. Scott Walker in March 2015. Unions have grown frustrated with the law due to decreases in memberships in labor unions, which could result in potential decreases in unions’ budgets and revenues, as a result of the loss of dues collected from workers against their will. Luke Karnick, covers the debate in an article for the Heartland Institute.

Many supporters of the Right-to-Work law, including Rick Esenberg, the president and general counsel of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, believe unions benefit from unfair and unequal treatment under federal law, making right-to-work legislation necessary to provide workers with an equal advantage in participating in the job market and negotiating their terms of employment if they prefer avoiding collective bargaining through union bosses.

“Unions are afforded very valuable privileges under the National Labor Relations Act,” Esenberg said. “They have advantages in organizing and protection in organizing. They can become the exclusive bargaining representative for all the workers so that there is no competition. If you’re in the bargaining unit and you want someone else to bargain for you, you can’t. You have to go along with the exclusive representative that was chosen”.

“[Under right to work,] if a worker does not like the web of legal responsibilities and privileges that the statute creates, they are free to walk away from it,” Esenberg said.

Right-to-Work laws are meant to protect Wisconsin workers who are uninterested in being forced to participate in a union. The law is meant to allow workers to join a union if they wish, but employers cannot force or compel employees to join a union as a term or condition of employment.



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