New ruling in state union case creates confusion

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Associated Press | September 19, 2013

MADISON — A judge added more confusion Tuesday to the question of whether his ruling invalidating Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining restrictions on municipal workers applies across Wisconsin.

Two unions representing Madison teachers and local government workers in Milwaukee filed a lawsuit in 2011 alleging the restrictions are unconstitutional because they capped union workers' raises but not those of their nonunion counterparts. Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled the restrictions are unconstitutional as they pertain to members of those two unions.

It's unclear whether the ruling applies to municipal public workers statewide or just in Madison and Milwaukee. The state Supreme Court agreed to take the case in June.

The unions' attorneys contend Walker's administration is still moving forward to implement the restrictions against other unions not involved in the lawsuit. They asked Colas in April to issue an injunction making clear that work must stop.

On Tuesday, Colas issued a three-page decision saying the Walker administration cannot enforce the restrictions against anyone. But he refused to issue the injunction, saying the Madison and Milwaukee unions haven't been harmed because the restrictions haven't been enforced against them.

"For that reason, though the defendants are bound by the court's judgment, even with respect to their actions toward non-parties, the court cannot issue the requested injunction," Colas concluded.

Lester Pines, one of the Madison and Milwaukee unions' attorneys, declared victory.

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