Judge Strikes Down Parts of Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Law

Protesters surrounded the state Capitol in Madison in early Februrary, 2011, as Act 10 slowly moved through the legislature.

A Dane County Circuit Court Judge has ruled parts of Wisconsin’s controversial collective bargaining law for public workers unconstitutional.

The ruling by Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas does not apply to state workers, but it would restore most bargaining rights to teachers, city and county employees.The judge ruled the law violates their state constitutional rights to free speech, association and equal protection, in part because of the way it makes it harder to organize and in part because of the way it caps wages for union workers but not for non-union employees.

Democrats were elated.Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca issued a statement saying calling the ruling a huge victory and saying it would help re-establish the balance between employees and their employers.

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Governor Walker issued a statement saying the people spoke in his recall election and that they were ready to move on.He blamed the ruling on an “activist judge” and said he was confident lawyers for the state would prevail on appeal.

The final arbiter in this case would be the state Supreme Court.The high court overturned another Dane County Judge last year after she blocked enactment of the collective bargaining law.But that case was on the process used to pass the law.This one is on its merits.