IAM v. Allen

Case Name: International Association of Machinists District Ten and Local Lodge 873 v. Ray Allen

Type of Case: Right to Work

Court: Western District of Wisconsin; Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals

Case Number: 16-cv-77 (District Court); 17-1178 (7th Circuit)

Filed On: February 2016

Current Status: Dues check-off provision struck down; new governor and attorney general abandoned appeal

As part of Right to Work reforms, Wisconsin law allowed union members to revoke their authorization for withholding union dues from their paychecks at any time with 30 days’ notice. Unions filed a lawsuit arguing that provision violated a federal law stating that a dues authorization “shall not be irrevocable for a period of more than one year.”

Basic rules of grammar and logic dictate the obvious conclusion that 30 days is not a period of more than one year, and that nothing in the federal law should preclude a state law provision like this. But courts have disagreed, and the Supreme Court has approved of a more tortured reading, but only in summary fashion. Still, even a summary ruling is binding on lower courts, so both the Eastern District and the Seventh Circuit ruled in the unions’ favor.

On behalf of the National Federation of Independent Businesses Small Business Legal Center, we filed amicus briefs arguing in favor of Right to Work. Unfortunately, when Tony Evers became Governor and Josh Kaul became Attorney General of the State of Wisconsin, they decided to drop the appeal in this case, leaving the lower courts’ rulings intact.