Skip to main content

Wisconsin judge strikes down collective bargaining restrictions

By the CNN Wire Staff
Demonstrators gather outside the Wisconsin Capitol in March to protest a bill that sharply restricts collective bargaining rights.
Demonstrators gather outside the Wisconsin Capitol in March to protest a bill that sharply restricts collective bargaining rights.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Judge Maryann Sumi says GOP legislators violated open meetings law
  • Wisconsin Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments June 6
  • Republicans say bill is needed to control budget; Democrats consider it attack on unions
RELATED TOPICS

(CNN) -- A Wisconsin judge struck down that state's controversial new collective bargaining law Thursday, ruling that GOP legislators failed to provide sufficient public notice before passing the measure this year.

Judge Maryann Sumi had previously issued a temporary restraining order to prevent the measure from taking effect.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on June 6 to determine whether it will consider the case.

The law, which sharply curbs the collective bargaining rights of most state employees, has sparked an extremely heated, high-stakes political fight. Republicans insist that the measure is necessary to control skyrocketing public employee benefit costs and close a $137 million budget shortfall. Democrats argue that it is little more than an attempt to gut public sector labor unions, one of their core constituencies.

Similar battles are being fought in other state legislatures across the country.

Under the Wisconsin law, all public workers except police and firefighters would be required to cover more of their retirement plan contributions and health care premiums.

Raises would be tied to the rate of inflation, unless state voters approve an exception. Unions would be required to hold a new certification vote every year and would no longer be allowed to collect dues from workers' paychecks.

State Democratic leaders claim that Republican legislators violated the state's open meetings law by calling a committee meeting to amend GOP Gov. Scott Walker's budget bill without providing the necessary public 24-hour advance notice. Democrats say they were given only two hours notice.

The amended bill, which had been stalled for weeks by 14 Democratic state senators who left Wisconsin to prevent a quorum -- and thus a vote on the measure -- then sailed through with an easy vote on March 9.

The state House of Representatives passed the bill, and Walker signed it into law March 11.

CNN's Alan Silverleib contributed to this report.

 
Quick Job Search