Six public school teachers from across the state are asking a Waukesha County judge to order the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission to hold certification elections for their unions.
The WERC has delayed union elections pending a ruling from both the state Supreme Court and a state appeals court.
A Dane County judge last week held the WERC in contempt and ordered it to stop preparations for the union certification elections that are required under Act 10: the new state law restricting public employee bargaining rights.
Dane County Judge Juan Colas had previously ruled the elections unconstitutional in a case brought by the Madison teachers' union, but Tom Kamenick, of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, said that ruling only affects Madison teachers.
“Once a court with jurisdiction over the entire geographic area rules with precedential effect,” he said, the higher court's ruling can overrule that of the lower court, “but up until that point, a different circuit court can come to entirely different conclusion.”
Kamenick is representing the teachers who filed this week's suit, all of whom want to vote on whether or not they want a union.
Kamenick compares Colas's ruling to those made during the early challenges of the federal Affordable Care Act.
“Some of the federal courts actually struck down the Affordable Care Act as unconstitutional,“ he said, ”and so within that one small district it was not in effect but they did not order the entire Obama (and( Sebelius administration to not enforce the Affordable Care Act nationwide.”
Colas, however, made his position clear in his ruling last week, when he found the WERC in contempt for carrying out elections anywhere in the state.
The state appeals court will rule on the contempt issue by next Monday and the state Supreme Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the elections on Nov. 11.