A Wisconsin judge who declared Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) union-busting law unconstitutional more than a year ago held the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission in contempt of court on Monday for continuing to enforce that law against school and municipal workers.
Walker’s law includes a one-two punch that dramatically weakens the ability of unions to improve workers’ wages while simultaneously encouraging those workers to drop the union. First, the law only permits public workers to collectively bargain for raises limited to the rate of inflation, thus curtailing one of the primary benefits of unionization — increased wages. It then requires unionized public workers to vote every year on whether they want to still be represented by a union.
Judge Juan Colas’ 2012 order blocks these restrictions from going into effect against city, county and school district workers, although state workers remain largely subject to Walker’s law. His order on Monday clarifies that the order applies statewide, and not just to the narrow group of plaintiffs before his court.
Yet, while Colas’ most recent decision is a victory for public workers in Wisconsin, this victory is likely to be temporary. His original 2012 ruling is pending before the very conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court. And the conservatives on that court already reinstated Walker’s law once after it was blocked (on a different legal grounds) by a lower court.