ON-Lion Letter
In the wake of a March appeals-court order denying the State of Wisconsin's request to stay a county circuit-court judge's decision declaring parts of Act 10 unconstitutional, labor advocates have made incorrect claims about the effect of that decision.  Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, claims the decision "sends a strong message to school districts that now is the time to act and bargain in good faith with local associations."  State Sen. Jon Erpenbach claims the decision creates uncertainty and leaves "school districts and municipal employees without clear direction."  United Wisconsin claims the decision "continue[s] the stay put in place by Judge Juan Colas and bar[s] enforcement of Act 10."

All three of those assertions are incorrect, according to the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) in Milwaukee.

Colas did not put a stay in place; he did not enjoin or bar enforcement of Act 10.  Nor did the appeals court create or continue a "window" for other local units of government to ignore the requirements of Act 10.  The appeals court confirmed the long-standing rule that a decision of a circuit court has no precedential value, affirming WILL's February advisory that any unit of government that renegotiates or reopens a union contract in a way that violates Act 10 does so at its own risk.

The appeals court cleared any uncertainty, stating, "[T]he [unions] argue that the circuit court's decision here is binding statewide.  But we reject out of hand the proposition that the circuit court's decision has the same effect as a published opinion of this court or the supreme court."  The appeals court went on to note that in a lawsuit brought in another county, the judge there would have the discretion to reach the same conclusion as Colas, tacitly acknowledging that such a court could also reach the opposite conclusion.  Thus, any local government negotiating with a union in violation of Act 10's restrictions runs the risk of a taxpayer bringing a lawsuit and a court ruling that they violated Act 10.

As always, WILL says, it remains on the lookout for any unit of government that does not follow the law.

Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation substantially supports WILL.
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