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Milwaukee attempts to intervene in collective bargaining case

The city of Milwaukee filed a petition Tuesday to intervene in a lawsuit alleging Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining law is unconstitutional.

The high-profile appeal pending before the Dist. IV Wisconsin Court of Appeals is between Madison Teachers Inc. and a Milwaukee public employees union versus Gov. Scott Walker.

The petition, signed by City Attorney Grant Langley, Deputy City Attorney Rudolph Konrad and Assistant City Attorney Stuart Mukamal, asks to intervene in the suit both as a matter of right or alternatively as a discretionary call by the court.

Madison Teachers is challenging the constitutionality of Sec. 62.623 as violative of a city’s home rule powers and an illegal impairment of contracts.

The memo supporting the city’s petition states that the new statute “prohibits a first-class city in its capacity as employer from paying any of the employee’s share of required pension contributions on behalf of its employees, and requires the employees to pay all such contributions themselves. This provision uniquely and directly affects the City, the only first-class city located in the State of Wisconsin.”

The memo sides with the teachers’ position in the litigation and Judge Juan Colas’ trial court opinion, now on review. It states that the city received three written opinions to form its stance, one from the city attorney and two from private law firms.

With regard to the standards for intervention, the memo states:

“The City’s pension system is the only system governed by Wis. Stat. sec. 62.623. Thus the City is squarely in the cross-hairs of these issues. …. This Court’s disposition of the matter of the constitutionality of Wis. Stat. sec. 62.623 directly and decisively impacts the ability of the City to: (1) govern the City’s pension city and (2) protect the vested, contractual rights of the retirees and the employee-members of the pension system. …. This issue goes to the heart of the City’s right to determine how to finance and govern its own pension system.”

The appeal is still in the briefing stage.


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