Sunday, November 10, 2013
WI Supreme Court to hear Act 10 but excludes six unions from oral arguments
On Monday the Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Act 10, the anti-collective bargaining law that led to the largest worker uprising in Wisconsin history in the spring of 2011.
Late Friday night the Court issued an order barring six unions from participating in the oral arguments. Those unions had successfully filed suit asking Dane County Circuit Court Judge Colas to find the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) in contempt of court, thus prohibiting the WERC from conducting “recertification” elections that were to have started November 1. The mandatory annual recertification elections were one of several anti-worker components of Act 10.
The three dissenting judges in Friday night’s 4-3 ruling called the denial, “unfair and illogical.”
They noted that both the defendants and the plaintiffs suggested that the six unions and the WERC be allocated 10 or 15 minutes each to make their arguments regarding the contempt of court finding which the Supreme Court is going to be ruling on as part of the overall case.
The majority denied that request.
The dissenting judges wrote, “the court’s order today undermines this court’s role as a neutral, fair, impartial and non-partisan arbiter by excluding (without adequate explanation) the victorious-at-the-circuit-court unions from arguing at the supreme court about the contempt motion that the unions filed and won at the circuit court.”
The six unions that successfully sought and won the contempt of court finding include WEAC (which includes the MTEA); AFT-Wisconsin; SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin; Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Care Professionals; Kenosha Education Association; and District Council 40, AFSCME.
The original case, Madison Teachers, Inc. v. Scott Walker, will be argued by Madison attorney Lester Pines representing the MTI. The other plaintiff is Public Employees Local 61, AFL-CI0.
The only other time Act 10 came to the Wisconsin Supreme Court was on a procedural matter regarding whether the way the Republicans passed the law violated the states open meetings law. During deliberation there was a physical confrontation between two justices. Conservative Justice David Prosser put his hands around the neck of Justice Ann Walsh Bradley.