Union files suit challenging provisions of Wisconsin Act 10

On Aug. 26, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139 and two of its members, Karen Erickson and Heath Hanrahan, filed a suit in U.S. District Court challenging Wisconsin Act 10, legislation enacted in 2011 that made multiple changes to the state’s public-sector labor relations laws.

Who are the parties to the suit?
Plaintiffs Erickson and Hanrahan are municipal employees of Marinette County, Wisconsin. Their union, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, represents approximately 9,500 workers in Wisconsin. The defendant is James Daley, chairman of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.

What’s at issue?
Act 10 prohibits municipal employers from negotiating with a union over “any factor or condition of employment except wages.” The law prohibits employers from deducting union dues from municipal employees’ paychecks. Act 10 also establishes annual recertification elections for municipal employee unions. In these elections, a union must receive at least 51 percent of the votes of all employees in the bargaining unit in order to be certified as the exclusive representative of those employees.

The plaintiffs allege these provisions of Act 10 violate the free-speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs also argue that previous court decisions upholding these provisions of Act 10 should be reconsidered in light of the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision. This contrasts with the ways in which Janus has been invoked in other suits to challenge union-backed laws and practices (e.g., dues-deduction authorization windows, paid time off for union activities, etc.).

What comes next?
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. A judge has not yet been assigned to the case. The case name and number are International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139 v. Daley, 2:19-cv-01233-DEJ.

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 102 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

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Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

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Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of legislative actions taken since our last issue. Bills are listed in alphabetical order, first by state then by bill number.

  • California AB314: This bill would require employers to grant employees paid time for certain union activities.
    • Senate Appropriations Committee hearing scheduled Aug. 30.