By TODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Dane County judge refused Monday to stay his ruling striking down Wisconsin’s right-to-work law, reiterating his position that the legislation wrongly enables non-union workers to receive free representation.
Judge William Foust said he doesn’t believe state attorneys have shown they’ll overturn his decision on appeal and have no evidence the state would suffer if his ruling stands. He said the core of his ruling is whether a union has to provide free services.
“The decision boils down to something as simple as ‘there is no free lunch,'” the judge said.
Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel, who is defending the law, immediately said he’ll seek a stay from a state appeals court “where we feel confident this law will be upheld.”
Right-to-work laws prohibit businesses and unions from reaching agreements that require all workers, not just union members, to pay union dues. Since unions must represent all employees in a workplace, the laws essentially allow non-union workers to benefit from union representation for free. Twenty-five states have such laws. Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed Wisconsin’s version 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 in March 2015, arguing the statutes amount to an illegal taking of their services without compensation.
Foust found the law unconstitutional earlier this month. The state Justice Department asked Foust last week to stay the ruling. They filed notice of appeal the same day with the Wausau-based District 3 Court of Appeals.
Assistant Attorney General Steven Kilpatrick argued at a hearing Monday that the judge should grant the stay because the state likely will win the appeal, all statutes are presumed constitutional and the state suffers harm any time it can’t enforce a law and unions aren’t likely to suffer substantial harm if the law remains in place pending the appeal.
Fred Perillo, the unions’ attorney, countered that a stay would harm the unions. He said keeping the law in place would cost the unions thousands of dollars in potential dues, prevent them from negotiating contracts requiring due payments and prohibit contract clauses reinstating union dues if right-to-work was struck down from taking effect.
The Wisconsin AFL-CIO issued a statement praising Foust for again affirming that the right-to-work law is unconstitutional.