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Good News Out Of Wisconsin, Makes A Better Case Against NH House Legislation

Yesterday, a Federal Judge in Wisconsin threw out sections of the Act 10 amendment that removed collective bargaining rights on the workers in Wisconsin.  While this was not a complete win for the workers, it does make a statement.

The court sided with state officials in upholding limitations on what can be bargained, but found the two other provisions violated the union members’ equal protection and First Amendment rights, considering that the same rules did not apply to unions for public safety workers such as police and firefighters. 

“So long as the State of Wisconsin continues to afford ordinary certification and dues deductions to mandatory public safety unions with sweeping bargaining rights, there is no rational basis to deny those rights to voluntary general unions with severely restricted bargaining rights,” wrote U.S. District Judge William M. Conley.”

What they did say is that you cannot say one union is different from another.  If you say that Public Safety Unions have rights to bargain, then all Unions have the right to bargain.  They did however say that the State maintained the right to limit what could be bargained. Therefor unions will not be able to bargain over pay.

Peg Lautenschlager, the attorney for the Wisconsin State Employees Union, called the decision a “great victory” for her client.  

“Obviously, we’re thrilled,” Lautenschlager said. “The collective bargaining part is a disappointment. But the notion that a federal judge has said to Scott Walker that he’s gone too far on this law is fabulous.”

Peg is right! This is a reason to celebrate.  The courts have stated that Governor Walker went to far.  This could also has implications in other states as well.  What does this mean to current legislation being pushed in the New Hampshire House?

However, Conley found that the two other changes – annual recertification and the ban on automatic dues deduction – violated the First Amendment rights of the affected workers. 

“The court would be remiss not to at least note the likely burden the annual recertification process imposes on the members’ speech and association rights,” he wrote.

This statement alone could mean that if the NH House passes HB1645 it is likely that it would be overturned in a court of law.  HB 1645 includes provisions similar to Act 10 that mandate a de-certification vote initiated by the employer.  With significate and recent federal case law to back it up the argument could here in NH that HB 1645 is unconstitutional.

Do we  really want to spend more of New Hampshire’s valuable time and resources to fight this battle in court.  I think the State Legislature should look at this recent ruling and what it would mean to the current batch of collective bargaining laws amendments.  It would be in the best interest of the State and the Taxpayers of New Hampshire to reject these laws now.  The ball is in your court NH Senate!

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