MADISON (WKOW) -- A Dane County judge ruled on Friday to throw out parts of the state collective bargaining law. Now, we hear from the governor and the unions involved.
Judge Juan Colas decided that parts of Gov. Scott Walker's first piece of legislation after taking office in 2011 were unconstitutional. The decision restores equal power at the bargaining table on all topics-- for city, county and school employee unions like Madison Teachers, Inc (MTI) and Public Employees Local 61 in Milwaukee.
"When [legislators] do something that violates the basic law of this state, it is the duty of the courts to correct their behavior," says attorney for the unions Lester Pines. "That's what Judge Colas did [Friday] and he did the right thing."
Under the terms of this ruling, MTI teachers are now back to contracts they had before the law passed. MTI Executive Director John Matthews says right now, the union's biggest priorities are bringing back health care options and planning time for elementary teachers.
"The district has some modifications to make, particularly in this area of working conditions for those elementary teachers," says Matthews.
While most collective bargaining talk has been about wages, union leaders say bargaining is about more than just the budget. Other important topics include things like hours and conditions of employment-- issues unions believe really affect public employees lives.
"When we give employees our word that we're going to abide by certain terms and conditions of employment, we have an obligation as a government to stand by our word," says Nick Padway, with Local 61.
On Friday, in response to the ruling, Gov. Walker accused Colas of being liberally biased.
"I think you've got an activist judge in Dane County like you've seen so many times in the past," Walker says.
It's a comment Pines thinks is outrageous. He says Walker could have chosen to ask for a different judge for the case.
"Stop assuming that the judges of this state make their decisions based on their personal and political biases regardless of what the law is," says Pines. "It's a fantasy that's used to convince people that the only true defenders of the constitution are the governor and the legislature."
The state has already said it will seek an appeal and a stay of Friday's decision. Walker says he's confident the law will be upheld in both the court of appeals and the state supreme court. But the union attorneys believe Colas' ruling will stand, despite a similar ruling on voter ID that was thrown out.
Union lawyers expect it could be a long time before the case is finally closed. It could take five months to get to the court of appeals, and at least six months to get to the state supreme court. They both have no time limit to decide.
On Saturday, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's office released the following statement:
"We believe that Act 10 is constitutional in all respects and will be appealing this decision. We also will be seeking a stay of Friday's decision pending appeal in order to allow the law to continue in effect as it has for more than a year while the appellate courts address the legal issues."
MADISON (WKOW) -- A day after a Dane County judge declared parts of Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining law unconstitutional, union representatives will meet to discuss the decision.
On Friday, Judge Juan Colas ruled that Walker's first piece of legislation in office that took away collective bargaining rights for most public employees violated both the state and U.S. constitutions with respect to municipal employees rights.
The lawsuit was filed by an attorney for Madison Teachers, Inc (MTI) and Public Employees Local 61, representing Madison teachers and city of Milwaukee employees. On Saturday morning, leaders from those unions met to discuss what this ruling means for collective bargaining and public employees in Wisconsin.
Attorney Lester Pines called on the state's lawyers to stand up to Gov. Walker's comments on Friday, when he said Judge Colas was liberal and biased.
The Walker administration said the state would seek an appeal. Pines expects the state to petition to bypass the state court of appeals for the case to go straight to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Pines says actual bargaining for public employees can begin immediately, provided the court does not grant a stay in the case.
Tonight on 27 News at 6 and 10, we'll bring you the latest on the legality and meaning of this ruling.
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