Madison teachers filed suit against Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday claiming the state’s collective bargaining restrictions infringe on free speech rights.
Attorneys for the Madison Teachers Inc. union sued in Dane County Circuit Court and were joined by a Milwaukee sanitation workers union, Public Employees Local 61, AFL-CIO.
According to complaint, Act 10, known as the collective bargaining bill, unfairly discriminates against the right of union employees to seek better wages, hours and working conditions.
Madison attorney Lester Pines said the legislation, which took effect on June 29, is unconstitutional because it places extensive burdens on public employees who form unions and their ability to negotiate with employers.
“The legislation did not place any burden on non-unionized municipal employees,” he said. “If you want to get together and associate and negotiate with employers, you can do that.”
No so for teachers and other public employees, Pines said, which makes the law unconstitutional.
MTI is the exclusive collective bargaining agent for more than 4,000 public school teachers, assistants and substitutes in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
Pines said the lawsuit “gets to the heart of what the Legislature did” and the law was designed to “squeeze” people out of labor unions and not to save money.
“There is no compelling interest by the state to place that burden on their associational rights,” Pines said. “None.”
Dana Brueck, spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Justice, said the department had no comment on the suit.