Federal Court of Appeals Upholds Stripping of Collective Bargaining Rights of Public Unions
Those looking for excellent news in the midst of a clearly-souring global economy can find it in Wisconsin, where a Federal appeals court upholds Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s restrictions on public unions
A federal appeals court on Friday upheld Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s contentious law stripping most public workers of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights in a decision hailed by Republicans but not undoing a state court ruling keeping much of the law from being in effect.
The decision marks the latest twist in a two-year battle over the law that Walker proposed in February 2011 and passed a month later despite massive protests and Senate Democrats leaving for Illinois in a failed attempt to block a vote on the measure.
The law forced public union members to pay more for health insurance and pension benefits, which Walker said was needed to address a budget shortfall. It also took away nearly all their bargaining rights.
Walker and Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who fought for passage of the bill, called the ruling a win for Wisconsin taxpayers.
“As we’ve said all along, Act 10 is constitutional,” Walker said in a statement, referring to the law’s official designation.
While Friday’s 2-1 ruling by a panel of the 7th Circuit could influence the state appeals court and others hearing the cases, it’s not binding, said Paul Secunda, a Marquette University law professor. It certainly doesn’t signal the end of the legal fights, he said, and it could be appealed to the full federal appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The public unions will fight until every one of their arguments are considered in full,” Secunda predicted.
The law in question prohibits most public employees from collectively bargaining on anything except wages. It also requires public unions to hold an annual election to see whether members want the organization to continue to exist, and it bars unions from automatically withdrawing dues from members’ paychecks.
Walker specifically exempted public safety unions from the law’s effects, however. He said he didn’t want to risk police and firefighters going on strike in protest of the law’s provisions.
The appeals court upheld the law in its entirety Friday. The judges said the state was free to draw a line between public safety and other unions. The state had a rational basis to protect the public safety unions and the law didn’t explicitly discriminate against other public worker unions based on their political leanings, the court said.
“Distinguishing between public safety unions and general employee unions may have been a poor choice, but it is not unconstitutional,” the opinion said.
Poor Choice Indeed
Let’s review that last sentence above “Distinguishing between public safety unions and general employee unions may have been a poor choice, but it is not unconstitutional,” the opinion said.
The judges are correct. It was a poor choice to exclude any public workers.
The way to rectify that poor choice is to pass another law, including public safety workers as well.
A complete reform requires ending all collective bargaining “rights” of public unions.
No “Right” to Collective Bargaining
For starters there is no “right” to collective bargaining. I made the case at the height of the Wisconsin battle on March 21, 2011 in Collective Bargaining neither a Privilege nor a Right
The battle cry from Wisconsin is a union complaint that their “right” to collective bargaining has been taken away. Nothing could be further from the truth. You cannot take away something that does not exist and never did.
Please consider this simple sentence straight from the Declaration of Independence.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Public unions take away those “unalienable rights” via collective bargaining arrangements.
Five Ways Collective Bargaining Tramples Various Unalienable Rights
- Collective bargaining agreements take away the right of individuals to pursue a career of their dreams void of union affiliation
- Collective bargaining agreements force individuals into organizations against the free will of those members
- Collective bargaining agreements force union dues out of members who do not even want to belong
- Collective bargaining agreements dictate what members can and cannot do with their free time.
- Collective bargaining agreements even dictate what non-members can and cannot do with their free time!
The article lists examples for those five points. Collective bargaining is no bargain for anyone. It is a curse on taxpayers. FDR agrees.
Inquiring minds are reading snips from a Letter from FDR Regarding Collective Bargaining of Public Unions written August 16, 1937.
All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management.
The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations.
Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees.
A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable.
The biggest socialist president in the history of the US even agrees there is no place for collective bargaining of public unions, and he states the case very well.
Anyone who reads that logical explanation by FDR and disagrees, is a member of a union, has a family member in a union, or simply has a non-functioning mind.
I call on governor Scott Walker to rectify the law as passed. Excluding public safety workers was a bad idea, and he knows it.
So why did he do it?
He barely won the first election (winning the recall by much more) and probably would not have won if he took on all the unions at once.
For more on public union slavery, coercion, bribery, and scapegoating please see …
- Paul Krugman, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, others, Ignore Extortion, Bribery, Coercion, and Slavery; No One Should Own You!
- President Obama’s Slave Trade; Senator DeMint Says Team Obama Acts Like Thugs; Death of Right-to-Work?
Union-Busting is a Godsend
Actual Wisconsin results prove Union-Busting is a “Godsend”; Elimination of Collective Bargaining is the Single Best Thing one Can do for School Kids
It’s time to implement national right-to-work laws and put an end to public union collective bargaining nationally.
I salute governor Scott Walker for leading the way. Now he needs to follow through.
About the author: Mike “Mish” Shedlock is a registered investment advisor representative for Sitka Pacific Capital Management. His top-rated global economics blog Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis offers insightful commentary every day of the week. He is also a contributing “professor” on Minyanville, a community site focused on economic and financial education. Every Thursday he does a podcast on HoweStreet and on an ad hoc basis he contributes to many other websites, including UnionWatch.