Wisconsin appeals court grants stay, reinstates right-to-work law

Reuters News
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Posted: May 25, 2016 4:32 PM

(Reuters) - A Wisconsin state appeals court has reinstated a right-to-work law that was struck down by a lower court that said it was unconstitutional, granting a stay while the earlier ruling is appealed, the state's attorney general said.

In April, Dane County Judge William Foust ruled the measure was unconstitutional because it takes property, in the form of fees, from labor unions without compensating them.

The right-to-work law made it possible for workers to be represented by a union but to opt out of paying dues. The International Association of Machinists, United Steelworkers and AFL-CIO sued the state after the law went into effect saying that they were being forced to provide services without compensation.

"We feel confident the law will ultimately be found constitutional, as it has been in more than half the states across the country," the Wisconsin Department of Justice said in a statement late on Tuesday.

In 2015, the legislation was spearheaded by state Republican lawmakers, including former U.S. presidential candidate Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

The governor faced large protests from unions and won accolades from conservatives nationwide in 2011 when he ushered through legislation curtailing the powers of most public-sector unions in Wisconsin.

The passage of the right-to-work measure was greeted by smaller protests a few years later. Wisconsin became the 25th U.S. state to have such a measure on the books.

(Reporting by Fiona Ortiz in Chicago; Editing by Alan Crosby)