Confusion in wake of Wisconsin union ruling

Associated Press Modified: September 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm •  Published: September 17, 2012
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin school and government employee unions on Monday were considering whether to seek new contract talks after a state court threw out a controversial law that restricts public workers' collective bargaining rights.

At least one major union representing about 4,700 teachers in Madison said it will demand new contract negotiations, while others said they were weighing their options.

A Dane County judge ruled Friday that the law, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2011, violates the school and local employees' constitutional rights to free speech, free association and equal representation. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said he will ask a court on Tuesday to put the ruling on hold while he prepares an appeal.

The law, championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker to address budget problems, has been the focal point of a broader clash between conservatives and unions over worker rights.

The ruling came in one of a number of lawsuits that are expected to determine the legality of curtailing employees' collective bargaining.

The law limits bargaining on wage increases to the rate of inflation. Other issues, such as workplace safety, vacation and health benefits, were excluded from collective bargaining.

Unions covered by contracts reached under the new law are considering whether to demand negotiations now that the law has been struck down. But the prospects for new action may remain unclear for some time as the appeals courts consider how to handle the legal challenges and lower court decisions.

"There are hundreds of questions about what this means for local school districts at this time and I don't think anybody has the answers," said Miles Turner, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators. "This is going to take some time."



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