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Wisconsin Anti-Union Law Struck Down by Judge

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By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on May 26, 2011 2:32 PM

Is Wisconsin's anti-union law legal? Apparently not, says one judge, who struck down the Wisconsin anti-collective bargaining law that had been given so much negative publicity from pro-labor advocates.

Judge Maryann Sumi ruled that the rushed way the legislature passed the bill made the bill void.

The law prevented public-sector unions, like teachers, from using powerful collective bargaining tools in negotiating for their health benefits and pensions. Police and firefighters were excluded from the law, reports The New York Times.

Last March, 13 of the state's Democratic state senators fled Wisconsin during the vote to prevent the Republicans from gaining quorum and the ability to pass the proposed bill. However, after the Democratic state senators left, Republican lawmakers split the bill in two and passed the anti-collective bargaining law.

Of course, Judge Sumi's ruling does not say that the anti-union law is void because of the terms and provisions in the law. It's essentially saying that due to the Open Meetings Law, the law was not passed using the correct procedures, making it void.

The Wisconsin Open Meetings Law is meant to keep government business open to the public. Generally, whenever a Wisconsin government body is conducting official business, it must be in "open session" which means that it is open to the members of the public. There are some instances where meetings can be closed, however. But, all open sessions must give appropriate notice, including the agenda of the meeting, when the meeting is going to be held, and where.

Judge Sumi's ruling is that the fast way the Republicans passed the anti-collective bargaining bill failed to give the public the 2-hour notice it should have been given under the Open Meetings Law, according to The New York Times.

The Wisconsin anti-union law might still be implemented, however. Many lawmakers expect that the Republicans to try to pass another Wisconsin anti-collective bargaining law in the next lawmaking session, according to the Huffington Post.

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