Judge Rejects Parts of Wisconsin Law That Sharply Restricts Collective Bargaining

Academic faculty, staff, and other unions in Wisconsin won a partial victory on Friday, when a federal judge overruled parts of an anti-union law pushed through last year by the state’s Republican governor, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. But the judge let stand the bulk of the law, including its provision stripping many public-employee unions of their collective-bargaining rights.

In a 39-page ruling, the judge, William M. Conley of the U.S. District Court in Madison, Wis., struck down the parts of the law that require many of the unions to win annual recertification votes from their members and that prohibit the unions from collecting dues through automatic payroll deductions. Judge Conley ruled that such requirements could not be imposed on some unions while others—for the police, firefighters, and other public-safety workers—were exempt.

The law, which already survived review by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, was passed last year in a tumultuous process that featured a walkout by Democratic state legislators and days of protest at the Capitol by tens of thousands of union supporters.

The ruling, if upheld on a likely appeal, would give life to the affected unions, which could face a challenge to their survival if they were unable to collect dues automatically or forced to fight potential decertification votes annually.

Meanwhile, in a moment of political symmetry on Friday, state election officials announced that opponents of Gov. Scott Walker had submitted enough signatures—more than 900,000—on petitions to force a recall election. The governor will face the recall vote on June 5.

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