October 1, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Madison, WI – A federal judge on Sept. 26 dismissed a challenge to Wisconsin’s ban on unions requiring nonmembers to pay fees for representation, saying a higher federal court had rejected similar arguments.
International Union of Operating Engineers Locals 139 and 420 had argued that the state’s 2015 law violated their constitutional rights against having property taken without compensation, because it forced them to represent nonmembers for nothing. Local 139 had negotiated “fair representation fee agreements” with eight employers, but those could only be enforced if the law was struck down. U.S. District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller said he was bound by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2014 decision that upheld Indiana’s “right-to-work” law. In that case, the majority concluded that the union was “justly compensated” by having “the right to bargain exclusively with the employer.” Local 139 President Terry McGowan said the unions would appeal—but the appeal would go to the 7th Circuit. Read more