Unions File Another Lawsuit Against Bargaining Bill

7/8/11 – A second lawsuit has been filed in federal court against the new Wisconsin law that virtually ends collective bargaining by most public employee unions. The new lawsuit was filed by two A-F-L C-I-O chapters that represent unionized workers for Dane County and the city of Madison. Its claims are similar to those in the first lawsuit, filed in late June by a coalition of seven public-and-private labor organizations. The new lawsuit says the state law violates the equal protection clause of the U-S Constitution, because the bargaining limits do not apply to police, fire, or transit unions. Also, it claims that the state violated the unions’ First Amendment rights of free association. The state Justice Department, which could defend the new lawsuit, has not commented on it. A private law firm is defending the first lawsuit – and it calls the unions’ claims “baseless” and “imagined.” The union law allows most state-and-local public unions to bargain only for wages at-or-below inflation. Members no longer have union dues deducted from paychecks, and they must hold re-certification votes each year. Employees must also pay more toward their health insurance and pensions – although plaintiffs in the first suit said that provision was okay with them, and they don’t seek to strike it down. The new lawsuit asks that the law be killed.