In what is seen as a win for public labor Unions, Governor Scott Walker’s controversial Anti-Collective Bargaining law was struck down.
Thursday Morning, Dane County Judge MaryAnn Sumi issued a permanent injunction against the bill, effectively killing it until the Supreme Court is able to act. Sumi’s 33 page decision said there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Republicans who control the Legislature violated the state’s open meetings laws. This referred to GOP actions at March 9th committee meeting where the measure was passed without providing proper notice to the public. Also at that time, the Capitol building was locked down tightly keeping many members of the public away.
“This case is the exemplar of values protected by the Open Meetings Law: transparency in government, the right of citizens to participate in their government, and respect for the rule of law,” Sumi wrote. “It is not the court’s business to determine whether 2011 Wisconsin Act 10 is good public policy or bad public policy; that is the business of the Legislature. It is this court’s responsibility, however, to apply the rule of law to the facts before it.”
“This is what we were looking for” said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, a Democrat who sued to block the law after Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) filed a complaint saying that Republicans had not given proper notice in convening a conference committee of lawmakers from both houses to approve Gov. Walker’s budget-repair bill.
In a press release, Mary Bell, President of the Wisconsin Education Association said “Wisconsin public school employees applaud the ruling today that strikes down this backward legislation. The motives behind the collective bargaining bill were clearly political. Governor Scott Walker has already admitted the bill was never intended to be about ‘budget repair’ but instead a way to bust public employee unions.”
“Scott Walker and the Republicans broke the law that night,” explained Stephanie Bloomingdale, Wisconsin State AFL‐CIO. “This is a democracy, not a dictatorship, and Judge Sumi’s decision today makes it final that the union busting bill was passed illegally and will not stand.”
Reaction to the budget repair bill that seeks to eliminate all collective bargaining rights from public unions- except police and firefighters- has included over 100 days of mass protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol and around the state. At times, over 150 thousand people have massed outside and inside the building in opposition to this measure.
The most recent mass protest was May 14th.
It is expected that the Supreme Court will hear arguments on June 6th to decide whether it will take up the case. GOP leaders have always had the option of noticing a hearing properly, and voting on the legislation again. Many democrats, activists and union supporters believe that the lock-step political will that existed at the time of the measure’s original passing no longer exists. This is why Republicans continue to spend thousands of dollars litigating the law, rather than calling for a re-vote.
Republican leaders and the Governor’s office have yet to comment on this decision.