By TODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Madison judge entered a final order Friday declaring Wisconsin’s right-to-work law unconstitutional, finalizing a decision he handed down last week and setting the stage for state attorneys to appeal.
State Justice Department officials said they would file a request Monday morning to put the ruling on hold while an appeal is settled.
“We wholeheartedly disagree with (the) decision and final order. We will seek a stay and immediately appeal the decision. I am confident the law ultimately will be upheld and Wisconsin will remain a Right-to-Work state,” Attorney General Brad Schimel said in a statement.
Right-to-work laws prohibit businesses and unions from reaching agreements that require all workers, not just union members, to pay union dues. Twenty-five states have such laws. Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed Wisconsin’s version early last year.
Three unions — the AFL-CIO’s Wisconsin chapter, Machinists Local Lodge 1061 and United Steelworkers District 2 — filed a lawsuit challenging the law. They contended it amounted to an unconstitutional taking of services since it essentially means that unions must represent workers who don’t pay dues.
Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust agreed in an April 8 decision. His order Friday formalizes that ruling.
Schimel had questioned whether Foust’s decision had statewide reach. But the judge’s order declared the sections of the law prohibiting unions from collecting dues from non-members — the crux of the law — null and void and enjoined the state from enforcing those provisions.
“That’s what we’ve been asking for from the very beginning,” said Fred Perillo, the unions’ lead attorney. “That’s not just null and void in Dane County. It’s not limited geographically or just to the named plaintiffs.”