AFSCME Joins Federal Suit Against Anti-Worker Legislation
“This suit is just one more way we are standing up to Gov. Walker and his allies who have shown no regard for the rule of law in their rush to scuttle decades of labor peace in Wisconsin,” said Rick Badger, executive director of AFSCME Council 40.
The lawsuit charges that the Budget Repair Bill violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution by stripping away basic rights to bargain, organize and associate for the purpose of engaging in union and political activity, which have been in place for the last half century. Only employees working in job classifications represented by the handful of unions who supported Governor Walker in the last elections were spared from these punitive cutbacks.
“Walker and his allies are picking winners and punishing losers in a cynical political game. They are trying to create two classes of workers – one that has rights and one that has no voice. It clearly violates the constitution to discriminate between classes of workers,” said Marty Beil, executive director of AFSCME Council 24.
The suit contends that it is a violation of the U.S. Constitution for a legislature to discriminate among classes of public employees, particularly when doing so does not advance legitimate policy objectives but instead simply rewards political allies and punishes political opponents.
“We have made clear from the beginning that our members are willing to accept economic concessions in these difficult times, but we will not give up our right to a voice in the workplace,” said Rich Abelson, Council 48 executive director.
The lawsuit seeks to enjoin some, but not all, of the provisions of the Budget Repair Bill that enact this discriminatory treatment into law. Significantly, the unions do not seek to enjoin the significant pension and health insurance contribution requirements imposed by the Budget Repair Bill. The unions have long been on record accepting these substantial economic cuts and seek only to preserve their basic rights to bargain and freely associate.