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Free Ride Override: Portion of Wisconsin’s “Right-to-Work” Law Deemed Unconstitutional

Judge Conley

Judge Conley

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A federal judge has ruled that a portion of Wisconsin’s right-to-work law is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge William M. Conley issued an order permanently forbidding enforcement of Section 9 of the law, which gave Wisconsin workers a free pass to back out of unions. The legal wrangling over Section 9 dates back to early 2016:

The dispute began in February when the machinists union and its local lodge filed suit over Section 9 of the state’s so-called right-to-work law, which allows workers to stop paying union dues even after agreeing to do so for a year.

Conley denied the union a temporary injunction in July, but otherwise allowed the case to proceed, finding unions have valid claims against the chairperson of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission and the secretary of the state Department of Workforce Development.

On December 27, Judge Conley ruled against the state, citing a 1969 Supreme Court case as precedent, according to Courthouse News:

Federal law expressly permits employers to deduct and remit union dues with an employee’s consent, Judge Conley wrote in Tuesday’s opinion, provided the employee can revoke consent at the end of a checkoff authorization’s yearlong term.

Conley found the Labor Management Relations Act preempts any state law setting a different timeline for withdrawing from paying dues, as decided by the Supreme Court in the 1969 case SeaPak v. Industrial, Technical and Professional Employees.

[…] Conley noted that the SeaPak ruling has not been undermined or overturned by subsequent decisions.

Neither party has filed an appeal yet. The Wisconsin Department of Justice is currently reviewing the decision.


One Comment on “Free Ride Override: Portion of Wisconsin’s “Right-to-Work” Law Deemed Unconstitutional”

  1. Protect Worker’s Rights! Check out the rousing new protest song: “The Good Fight” with scenes from The Women’s March nationwide!

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