By TODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — State attorneys formally asked a Madison judge on Monday to stay his ruling declaring Wisconsin’s right-to-work law unconstitutional while they appeal the decision.
State Justice Department attorneys filed a motion requesting a stay with Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust as well as a notice of appeal with the District 3 Court of Appeals. If Foust grants the stay, the law would remain in effect until the appeal is settled.
The DOJ attorneys argued in their motion that leaving right-to-work in place won’t cause labor unions substantial harm and the law clearly benefits the public since 25 other states have such statutes. Without a stay, non-union members could be forced to pay dues, upsetting families that rely on weekly paychecks, they added.
“This (ruling) will have significant, immediate impacts on the State and its citizens,” the motion said. “Due respect for the presumption of constitutionality and the public interest requires that the judgment should be stayed until the appellate courts can finally decide whether Wisconsin, alone among its sister States, is prohibited from enacting a right-to-work law.”
Right-to-work laws prohibit businesses and unions from reaching agreements that require all workers, not just union members, to pay union dues. Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed Wisconsin’s law last year and touted it during his brief presidential bid last summer.
The Wisconsin AFL-CIO, Machinists Local Lodge 1016 and United Steelworkers District 2 filed a lawsuit challenging the law, alleging it amounts to a taking of union services without just compensation since the unions must represent all employees in a workplace even if the workers don’t pay dues. Foust sided with the unions earlier this month, handing down a ruling finding the law unconstitutional.
Fred Perillo, the lead attorney for the unions, said he hadn’t been served with the motion yet and had no immediate comment.
Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, said in a statement that Walker and Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel shouldn’t play politics with workers’ freedom to stick together.
“If we want a strong economy,” he said, “we should be strengthening unions so that workers can continue to collectively negotiate better workplaces for future generations.”