by Félix Pérez
Is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s anti-worker agenda falling apart at the seams?
On Friday, March 30, Walker suffered two significant setbacks: a federal judge struck down two parts of his law that strips public service workers of their right to bargain collectively for fair wages and safe working conditions, and the state elections board set the date for the election to recall Walker.
U.S. District Judge William Conley ruled that two provisions of Act 10, the deeply unpopular governor’s so-called budget repair bill, are unconstitutional. Conley ruled that the state violated workers’ First Amendment rights by preventing public employee unions from collecting dues and requiring that they recertify annually.
The two provisions were “specifically intended to attack the operations and viability of unions that didn’t support Scott Walker by requiring us to go through excessive hoops in order to maintain basic operations,” said Mary Bell, a junior high school media specialist and president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, which joined six other public service worker unions in challenging the law.
The ruling, added Bell, “means the union will be able to once again focus on the issues that are tied most closely with the success of students and our schools – professional issues, safety issues – leaving educators to in turn focus on what they most care about: educating children.”
Conley’s decision came just a few hours after Wisconsin election officials voted 5-0 to hold an election to recall Walker on June 5. The election was spurred by voters upset with Walker’s heavy-handed tactics and anti-worker agenda. Organizers collected nearly 901,000 signatures; only 540,208 were required.
Kelly Steele, a spokesman for We Are Wisconsin, the leading organizer of the volunteer-driven signature-gathering campaign, said, “While we’re pleased that Scott Walker’s transparent attempts to destroy his political opponents have been ruled illegal under the First Amendment, this ruling only raises the stakes for the upcoming recall elections. The reality remains Walker lied his way into office by concealing plans to wipe out 50 years of collective bargaining.”
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