Good News for Wisconsin Workers: County Judge Strikes Down Scott Walker's Collective Bargaining Ban
As the Chicago Teacher’s Union struggles to make headway through their strike, the Wisconsin court system delivered a decisive blow for democracy just a state away.
A Wisconsin Circuit Judge struck down Governor Scott Walker’s controversial law banning collective bargaining, which precipitated strikes and, earlier this year, a failed attempt at a recall. What couldn’t be accomplished through the ballot has been decided through the judiciary. The unexpected ruling serves as a crucial victory for embattled union-members in Wisconsin.
However, the implications remain unclear. AP:
It was not clear if the ruling means the law is immediately suspended. The law took away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most workers and has been in effect for more than a year.
Labor remains a crucial ally of the broader progressive cause, as Harold Meyerson’s masterful piece on the history of the movement emphasized. Meyerson’s conclusion:
Can unions move beyond landlines? Even if they can, will our corporate-dominated political system still indulge their existence, let alone permit their rebirth? Labor can’t win this fight by itself. It not only needs to make common cause with the broader liberal community; it needs the liberal community to understand and embrace Schlesinger’s dictum that the only alternative to class dominance is class conflict. Heightening that conflict and strengthening unions, or whatever new institutions emerge to fight for working people, must now become liberalism’s primary task.
In a similar vein, last week we proposed, as one of our many policy solutions for the middle class, a plan to strengthen the rights of working people to organize. It would entail "strengthening penalties and replacing the easily abused mechanism of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) elections with a streamlined employee sign-up procedure," as well as increasing the miniscule fines that can be imposed on employers that violate collective bargaining rights.
While such a plan should be an urgent priority in Congress, the courts can instantly change the paradigm. Let’s hope that the Wisconsin appeals court makes the right decision as well.