WILL Press Release | Dane County Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin’s Right to Work Law

Decison is an outlier and contradicts nearly every court to review RTW laws

April 8, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI – Today, Dane County Circuit Court Judge William Foust issued a summary judgment decision, striking down Wisconsin’s Right to Work Law which was passed in May, 2015.

The very day the law went into effect, unions filed suit challenging the law.

In partnership with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, we filed an amicus brief on behalf of the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center and four individual non-union member employees.

Responding to the decision, WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg commented:

Today’s decision by a Circuit Court judge holding Wisconsin’s right to work law unconstitutional is an outlier. The United States Supreme Court has long recognized that unions have no constitutional right to extract fees from nonmembers. No union is compelled to represent any group of employees. When it chooses to do so, it receives extraordinary statutory privileges. It is free of competition – no one else can represent employees in the bargaining unit – and it can avail itself of a variety of legal remedies compelling the employer to bargain. In a right to work state, these benefits come with an important limitation. Although it must bargain on behalf of all employees, it cannot force those who do not wish to be a member of the union to support it. In other words, it must persuade workers that it’s services are worth it. It cannot force them to support an organization that they do not wish to support. If it is unwilling to accept that obligation or to serve as an exclusive agent without the ability to compel payment, it does not have to do so.

To hold a union has been deprived of “property” because it does not like the burdens that the state imposes upon it in exchange for the legal benefits that it chooses to enjoy is a novel twist in the law – one that would call numerous regulatory schemes into question. It is not surprising that other courts have rejected such a novel approach.”

The decision can be read here.


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