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Heartland Institute expert says Wisconsin collective barganing ruling good for taxpayer

By David Yates | Aug 5, 2014


MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) – A recent Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling dealing a bow to union collective bargaining agreements will benefit taxpayers and perhaps spread to other states, according to a Heartland Institute expert.

On Thursday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Act 10, a piece of legislation ending collective bargaining for general public union members, is constitutional.

The collective bargaining provisions of Act 10 led to massive protests by union members that consumed the state house in Madison for several weeks in February and March 2011, as well as the unsuccessful recall campaign against Gov. Scott Walker the following year.

“Wisconsin’s labor unions will be unhappy, but the taxpayers of Wisconsin should rejoice and the people of surrounding states – and their legislatures – should take note,” David Applegate, policy advisor for Heartland, said in a Thursday press release.

Justice Michael Gableman wrote the 5–2 decision, which stated collective bargaining is not a fundamental constitutional right under the First Amendment but rather “a creation of legislative grace.”

“Understanding this decision, as the court itself noted, ‘demands clarity on what precisely is before the court,’” Applegate said.

“It does not say that government employees may not unionize; it does not say that union workers cannot petition their government for redress of grievances; it is not an assault on the rights of free speech or free association. As a matter of statutory construction and separation of powers, the Wisconsin Supreme Court was and is obliged to uphold Wisconsin’s Act 10 ‘if any rational basis can be found for the contested provisions,’ so long as the Act did not infringe on the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights.”

Founded in Chicago in 1984, the Heartland Institute is a 30-year-old national nonprofit research organization dedicated to finding and promoting ideas that empower people, according to the organization’s website.

Reach David Yates at

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Heartland InstituteWisconsin Supreme Court