Workers file amicus brief supporting Wisconsin union reform

Michael P. Tremoglie Oct. 24, 2011, 11:31am


MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Two Wisconsin school teachers and one other government employee have filed an amicus brief in federal court asking a judge to uphold a new law that reforms Wisconsin's public sector union activities.

Pleasant Prairie teacher Kristi Lacroix, Waukesha high school teacher Nathan Berish, and Ricardo Cruz, a trust fund specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds, filed the brief in favor of the reforms limiting government union officials' bargaining power.

The government employee unions, meanwhile, seek to suspend the law.

The teachers object to the union's use of their compulsory union dues for the union's political activities. Union officials admitted that under the reforms public-sector unions would lose at least one fourth of their compulsory dues revenues. For example, Wisconsin teacher union bosses would not be able to force independent-minded teachers to pay $5.4 million in forced dues and $375,000 for teacher union boss political activism.

All three workers expressed their desire to represent themselves with their employers, stating in their brief that "they equate the 'services' provided by (union officials) to be akin to those of some itinerant street window washers who sling dirty water on your car windshield, smear it around, and then demand payment." The three public employees also filed a motion to intervene in the same case in mid-July. The judge has yet to rule on their motion.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld Governor Scott Walker's government-sector monopoly bargaining reform bill in June. The bill protects the right to work for most government employees and bans automatic forced-union-dues seizures from public employees' paychecks.

In response, union lawyers filed a new lawsuit in federal court seeking to overturn the law.

"These courageous workers carry on the fight to uphold their Right to Work for all of Wisconsin's civil servants who want nothing to do with union bosses' so-called 'representation'," said Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work.

"With the help of the National Right to Work Foundation, these workers are prepared to withstand Big Labor's all-out assault to restore its forced-dues privileges over Wisconsin's public workers."

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