Wisconsin Appeals Court Upholds Right-To-Work Law

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An appeals court in Wisconsin has upheld the state's "right-to-work" law, which prevents trade unions from automatically collecting dues from workers.

The decision was welcomed by Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who signed the right-to-work law in 2015, the Washington Examiner reported.

Judge Mark Seidl justified the court's rejection of the appeal, which was initiated by the state branch of the AFL-CIO and other unions.

"The unions have no constitutional entitlement to the fees of non-member employees," Seidl wrote.

Walker released a statement on the ruling.

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"The purchase of any service should be voluntary and not coerced," Walker stated. "Wisconsin's right-to-work law protects freedom, not special interests. I applaud the court in affirming the constitutional right of all Wisconsin workers to be free to choose whether they want to join a union or financially support a union."

Walker has clashed with unions on a number of occasions since widespread protests broke out in Wisconsin in 2011 against his plan to restrict collective bargaining rights for public sector workers.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel defended the law in court and noted that he felt "vindicated."

Lawyers for the AFL-CIO, International Association of Machinists and United Steelworkers, all of which were involved in the case, did not respond to Reuters' request for comment.

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In court, the unions argued that the law represented an unconstitutional taking of property from them.

"The unions may be required to expend resources to represent employees in a bargaining unit who do not pay fees or dues to the unions, but this result does not constitute a taking," the court ruled in response.

A similar "right-to-work" law was upheld in a ruling by the West Virginia State Supreme Court.

"Twenty-seven other states have adopted right-to-work laws similar to West Virginia's, and the unions have not shown a single one that has been struck down by an appellate court," Justice Menis Ketchum wrote in the ruling, according to the West Virginia MetroNews.

The court also criticized a lower court ruling, which imposed an injunction on the "right-to-work" law.

Chief Justice Allen Loughry described the lower court's decision as "inexplicable," and added, "I further encourage the circuit court to assiduously avoid further delay and grant this matter its foremost attention."

The Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which opposes union organizing, notes that 28 states have adopted "right-to-work" legislation. Congress agreed to allow such legislation in 1947.

Sources: Washington Examiner, Reuters, West Virginia MetroNews / Featured Image: Michael Vadon/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: MuZemike/Wikimedia Commons, Michael Vadon/Wikimedia Commons

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