Gov. Walker's Union Law Emerges From Federal Court Mostly Intact

Helen Whalen Cohen
Posted: Mar 31, 2012 10:58 AM

Act 10, the Wisconsin law requiring that unions recertify every year through an absolute majority vote and removing collective bargaining privileges has survived a challenge in federal court. A federal judge struck down the ban on collecting voluntary union dues through payroll deductions and the requirement that unions recertify annually. These parts were struck down because they didn't apply to public safety unions, such as police or firefighter unions. The heart of the law remains:

MADISON — A federal judge on Friday upheld most of Gov. Scott Walker's controversial collective bargaining law but struck down parts of it by ruling the state cannot prevent public employee unions from collecting voluntary dues through payroll deductions and cannot require they recertify annually.

The collective bargaining law, also known as Act 10, established a system in which most public unions were required to have an "absolute" majority of their members vote every year to recertify — a standard higher than traditionally used. The law also took away some unions' powers to collect mandatory dues and prevented unions from deducting voluntary dues directly out of employee paychecks.


"So long as the state of Wisconsin continues to afford ordinary certification and dues deductions to mandatory public safety unions with sweeping bargaining rights, there is no rational basis to deny those rights to voluntary general unions with severely restricted bargaining rights," read the order by U.S. District Judge William Conley.

Public sector unions still won't be permitted to collect mandatory dues or have dues automatically deducted from workers paychecks. It sounds like if public safety unions hadn't been exempted, these provisions would have stood as well. Overall, this is a victory. Union membership should never be mandatory. If unions don't have to worry about losing members, then they won't have a problem with voluntary dues as opposed to dues collected through force, right?