MADISON (WKOW) -- A Dane County judge ruled to throw out Wisconsin's collective bargaining law on Friday, and it will likely get an ultimate ruling by the state Supreme Court. Last year, the court reversed a similar ruling by a different judge, and kept the law in place.
Judge Juan Colas' ruling decided that Act 10-- Gov. Scott Walker's first piece of legislation in office that took away most public employees collective bargaining rights-- violates the state and federal constitutions.
Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach says he's happy with the decision.
"I firmly believe that what the governor did with Act 10 was unconstitutional, a lot of people in this state did as well, so this judge obviously backs up what a lot of us have thought," says Erpenbach.
Attorney Lester Pines says collective bargaining rights will be immediately restored for municipal public employees, but technically only those in the Madison Metropolitan School District and city of Milwaukee workers, because the lawsuit was filed by unions representing those two groups-- the Madison Teachers, Inc. (MTI) and Public Employees Local 61 in Milwaukee. But, Pines says the ruling sets a precedent, and now every union will demand collective bargaining rights.
Republican lawmakers like Sen. Glenn Grothman say the ruling is "ridiculous" and will be overturned.
"The people I feel sorry for are the local school districts, the cities and counties who don't know where they stand. After all, Act 10 was a tremendous benefit to them," says Grothman.
But the ruling comes as a relief for public employees who have fought for their rights since February 2011. Now, representatives from MTI say the ruling is a victory and a turning point.
"When teachers go to the collective bargaining table, they bargain for the entire health of the system. The teachers are stakeholders in any school system where they work," says Kerry Motoviloff, president of MTI.
Kati Walsh, an art teacher in Madison, says the ruling is a huge weight off her shoulders.
"Now, teachers are going to be able to have those lower class sizes, teachers are going to be able to give the attention to their students that their students need and deserve in the classroom," says Walsh.
Republicans don't expect the ruling to last long. Gov. Scott Walker's office released this statement on Friday afternoon:
"The people of Wisconsin clearly spoke on June 5th. Now, they are ready to move on. Sadly a liberal activist judge in Dane County wants to go backwards and take away the lawmaking responsibilities of the legislature and the governor. We are confident that the state will ultimately prevail in the appeals process."
The state Supreme Court is expected to decide the case. On Saturday, the law firm representing the unions in this case will hold a press conference to discuss the decision and its ramifications for collective bargaining in Wisconsin.
MADISON (WKOW) – A Dane County judge has struck down the state law that limits public employee collective bargaining rights.
A spokesperson for Gov. Scott Walker says he is confident the decision will be overturned on the appeal.
Judge Juan Colas ruled the law is null and void and violates both the state and U.S. Constitution.
The challenge to the law was brought by Madison teachers and Milwaukee city workers. Their attorney, Lester Pines, says the ruling is effective immediately and means the portion of Act 10 limiting collective bargaining rights is null and void for those two unions.
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