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Yesterday, in WILL’s Act 10 lawsuit, Lacroix v. Kenosha School District, the Kenosha Unified School District (“KUSD”) and School Board agreed to a stipulation that declares their collective bargaining agreements null and void. KUSD will also have to pay attorney fees to WILL and is prohibited from forcing its non-union employees to pay union dues, i.e., a so-called “fair share” provision. Last fall, WILL and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation Inc. filed a lawsuit against KUSD, the Board, and its unions, over a CBA that violated state law, Act 10.
As explained by WILL President, Rick Esenberg, “Our agreement with KUSD is a win for our clients, for teachers’ rights, for taxpayers, and for the rule of law. We’re pleased that the Kenosha Schools have recognized that they made an error in negotiating with their unions and implementing collective bargaining agreements that so clearly violated Act 10.”
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Kristi Lacroix, a taxpayer who objected to her money being spent illegally, and a public school teacher who objected to her rights under Act 10 being taken away. Says Kristi Lacroix, “I argued from day one that taxpayer money was being spent illegally to support collective bargaining agreements negotiated behind closed doors between the unions and school district. This activity is prohibited under Act 10 and I am glad to see taxpayer rights prevail.”
As part of the agreement, the plaintiffs agreed to dismiss their claims against the Board, Board Members, and the District. They also agreed to not challenge a future unilateral act by the Board to replace the pay provisions of the CBA.
The School Board voted 4-3 on November 14, 2013 to ratify the labor agreements, which ran retroactively from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2015 and covered all KUSD employees. It contained numerous terms and conditions that are illegal under Act 10, such as $1.65 million in teacher “bonus” pay, changing teacher work days from an 8 hour work day to 7 ½ hours, automatic dues deductions, and “fair share” payments. Act 10 prohibits collective bargaining on any conditions of employment, other than total base wages.
On November 21, WILL filed a lawsuit, alleging that the CBA was the result of illegal bargaining, rushed through improperly-noticed school board meetings in response to a ruling by Dane County Judge Juan Colas. The lawsuit was filed in Kenosha Circuit Court, naming the Kenosha Education Association, the district, and the district’s board, and is being presided over by Judge David Bastianelli.
In March, WILL amended the lawsuit to include Board Members Jo Ann Taube [no longer on the Board], Rebecca Stevens, Carl Bryan, and Kyle Flood, on the grounds that they voted to commence collective bargaining in a meeting in violation of the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law. The amended complaint also added SEIU Local 168 and AFSCME Local 2383 as defendants because the School District negotiated with those unions at the same time it negotiated with the Kenosha Education Association.
The unions are not part of the settlement, and the litigation will continue with respect to the Plaintiffs’ claims against the unions and the unions’ recent demands that the district implement the “fair-share” provisions of the CBA.