Laborers Local 236, AFLO-CIO v. Walker, No. 13-3193 (7th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Wisconsin’s Act 10 significantly changed Wisconsin public‐sector labor law: it prohibited government employers from collectively bargaining with their general employees (not public safety employees) over anything except base wages and precluded general‐employee unions from using automatic payroll deductions and fair‐share agreements. Act 10 mandated that general‐employee unions submit to a recertification election every year (instead of remaining certified indefinitely) and certification requires affirmative votes from an absolute majority of the bargaining unit, not just those voting. Public‐employee unions and an individual union member sued, claiming that these changes infringe their First Amendment petition and association rights and deny union members the equal protection of the laws. The district court rejected the challenges. The Seventh Circuit, having previously held that Act 10’s prohibition on payroll deductions did not violate the First Amendment and that Act 10’s distinction between public safety and general employees was viewpoint‐neutral, affirmed. The court concluded that the law does not implicate the First Amendment and applied rational basis review. Its limitations on the scope of statutory collective bargaining are rationally related to a legitimate government interest: promoting flexibility in state and local government budgets by providing public employers more leverage in negotiations.