ON-Lion Letter

In April, a Circuit Court judge in Dane County, Wis., William Foust, issued a summary-judgment decision striking down Wisconsin's right-to-work law, passed in May 2015.  The law bans unions from charging dues and fees to non-union workers for collective bargaining and contract administration.  The very day the law went into effect, three unions filed suit challenging the law.

According to Foust, the law allows the "taking of the plaintiff's property without just compensation in violation" of the state constitution.  Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel immediately announced that he will appeal Foust's decision.

In defense of the law, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTWLDF) in Springfield, Va., and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) in Milwaukee filed an amicus curiae, or "friend-of-the-court," brief on behalf of the National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center and four individual non-union member employees.

"Right to Work laws have been passed by 26 states and have been repeatedly upheld in state and federal court," NRTWLDF vice president Patrick Semmens said.  "However, that didn't stop a lone Dane County Circuit Court judge from ruling against Wisconsin's Right to Work law on extremely questionable grounds.  According to the Court’s dubious reasoning, the State of Wisconsin cannot protect employees from union bosses who threaten to have them fired for refusing to pay dues or fees to a union they don’t support."

"Today’s decision by a Circuit Court judge holding Wisconsin’s right to work law unconstitutional is an outlier," WILL president and general counsel Rick Esenberg said.  "The United States Supreme Court has long recognized that unions have no constitutional right to extract fees from nonmembers.  No union is compelled to represent any group of employees.

"To hold a union has been deprived of 'property' because it does not like the burdens that the state imposes upon it in exchange for the legal benefits that it chooses to enjoy is a novel twist in the law -- one that would call numerous regulatory schemes into question," he added.  "It is not surprising that other courts have rejected such a novel approach."

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports NRTWLDF and WILL.

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