MADISON, Wis. – A sloppy, nearly indecipherable judicial ruling about the constitutionality of Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining reform law is causing confusion and triggering new lawsuits in Wisconsin.
Earlier this week, attorneys representing several state unions filed a motion asking Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas to hold “the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) in contempt of court for continuing to require (union) recertification elections,” reports The Wisconsin State Journal.
The unions want Colas to stop the state from holding the recertification elections this November, and to levy huge personal fines against two top WERC officials, the Journal reports.
The unions base their argument on a ruling Colas made last fall, in which the judge deemed certain sections of Walker’s Act 10 legislation as unconstitutional, including one section that forces local unions to have annual recertification elections to determine if employees still want union representation.
Colas’ ruling stopped recertification votes in Milwaukee and Madison, the two cities represented in the original anti-Act 10 lawsuit.
However, because Colas’ ruling didn’t explicitly tell the state to stop holding recertification votes in other communities, state officials believe they’re legally allowed to proceed with their plans until the Wisconsin Supreme Court issues a definitive ruling.
Union attorneys claim WERC officials are arrogantly and lawlessly violating Colas’ ruling, and want them hit with heavy penalties.
Colas attempted to clarify his position last week, but he only managed to make the situation more confusing.
As the Associated Press reports, “Colas issued a ruling last week saying his decision applies across the board but he stopped short of issuing a formal injunction (against WERC-led recertification votes), creating more confusion.”
What to make of all this?
First, Wisconsin’s public employee unions are quaking in their boots at the prospect of continued recertification elections. A great many teachers and other government employees have already used their newfound, Act-10 allowed freedoms to escape their local unions.
Why? Under Act 10, public labor unions are only allowed to negotiate over salaries – but any potential raises are limited to increases in the consumer price index.
In other words, union membership is virtually worthless and members are catching on. The unions are clearly afraid that future recertification votes will not go in their favor, and many local unions will cease to exist.
That would mean less dues money for the unions.
So it’s no surprise that the unions are eager for Colas to stop the state from arranging the recertification elections
The other takeaway is that an inept judge is worse than no judge at all. Colas has taken an already confusing situation and made it worse.