On late Friday afternoon, a Wisconsin judge struck down a Wisconsin law passed last year that severely limited the ability of most public sector workers to collectively bargain. The decision was handed down by Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas, who ruled that not only does the law violate the Wisconsin state constitution, but also the United States Constitution.
The 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, also known as the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, was championed by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker as a necessary measure to close a projected $3.6 billion funding gap in the state's budget. The proposed legislation became a flashpoint of controversy starting in February 2011, as thousands of pro-union protesters demonstrated against the bill in solidarity with those employees who would be adversely affected by the law. The protests gained worldwide attention.
A spokesperson for Walker says he is confident the ruling will be overturned on appeal.
The Wisconsin law was enacted around the same time other anti-union pushes were being made in Ohio and Michigan by newly-elected Republican governors John Kasich and Rick Snyder.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel explains the ruling:
"The law remains largely in force for state workers, though a federal judge struck down part of that section of the law as well earlier this year. But for city, county, and school workers the decision by Dane County Judge Juan Colas returns the law to its status before Walker signed his law in March 2011.
"The ruling means that, unless it is overturned on appeal, school districts and local officials will have to return to the bargaining table with their workers in a much more significant way. The decision raises a host of questions about changes in pay, benefits and work rules that have taken place in the meantime while bargaining was essentially dead."
In June, Walker successfully fended off an attempt to recall him by defeating Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Earlier Friday, the AP reported that the recall election had cost taxpayers $13.5 million.