Legal decisions on collective bargaining

AFT-Wisconsin President Kim Kohlhaas

AFT-Wisconsin President Kim Kohlhaas


A message from, Kim Kohlhaas, President AFT-Wisconsin:
This morning [Thursday, July 31, 2014], the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued its ruling in Madison Teachers, Inc. v. Walker, in which the Court’s conservative majority overturned Judge Juan Colas’s 2012 decision that found most of Act 10 unconstitutional for municipal employees. The decision did not affect our state employee and UW System unions, which have been operating under Act 10 since 2011. As expected, a majority of the Court upheld the law, which is no surprise—the conservative ideologues that make up the Court’s majority have reliably sided with Scott Walker and big-money special interests in nearly every major case over the past few years. This decision is aptly summarized by Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, joined by Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, in her dissent, which states that “the majority’s failure to address the actual issues presented in this case allows it to reach results that countenance the needless diminution of multiple constitutional rights.” While I (and our legal counsel) strongly disagree with the Court’s opinion, today’s decision closes the books on the major legal challenges to Act 10.
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The case, said speakers at the press conference, seeks to divert attention from the real issues in public education in order to demonize teachers.  At the mic is fifth grade teacher Gaby Ibarra from ABC Unified School District. Behind her, from right, CFT president Joshua Pechthalt, CTA president Dean Vogel, parent Martha Sanchez, and college student Kenia Alcocer.

The case, said speakers at the press conference, seeks to divert attention from the real issues in public education in order to demonize teachers. At the mic is fifth grade teacher Gaby Ibarra from ABC Unified School District. Behind her, from right, CFT president Joshua Pechthalt, CTA president Dean Vogel, parent Martha Sanchez, and college student Kenia Alcocer.


On Wednesday, June 11, 2014, California Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu issued a decision in the case of Vergara v. State of California that struck down teacher tenure protection, seniority-based job protection and existing disciplinary policy.

The judge agreed with the plaintiffs’ constitutional challenge to several state statutes that provide job protections to teachers, particularly to teachers with greater seniority. The judge enjoined (prohibited) the enforcement of the statutes and then placed a stay on his ruling pending the expected appeal, meaning that the injunction is not currently in force.

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Big changes are in store for college football teams. On Wednesday, March 26, 2014 National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Regional Director, Peter Sung Ohr, issued a ruling granting Northwestern football players the right to unionize and directed an election to take place.

NWU player Kain Colter presented his case to the NLRB in February. (USATSI)

According to a lengthy analysis of the decision and its effects provided by SB Nation: “The results of the election will determine whether the football team will be represented by the College Athletes Players Association. A Sports Illustrated legal expert said that they are nearly certain to get the number of votes needed to establish the union. From there, the union would be entitled to collectively bargain with Northwestern over the players’ benefits.”

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Today (Monday, November 11, 2013), the Wisconsin Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in the case of Madison Teachers, Inc. v. Scott Walker — the challenge to the state’s collective bargaining law.

Until the Wisconsin Supreme Court rules on this case, Dane County Judge Colás’ decision overturning aspects of Act 10 for municipal employees remains in effect. According to Lester Pines, an attorney for the plaintiffs, the Supreme Court’s ruling on this case is not likely to be issued until late winter or early spring of 2014.

The Wisconsin State Journal published a lengthy analysis of the pending court case in it’s Sunday, November 11, 2013 edition, which you can read online.

In addition, the newspaper published a useful chart of all pending cases — including Madison Teachers, Inc. v. Scott Walker — showing their current status and the paths they’ve followed to attain that status You may download a PDF of that chart.

On October 2, 2013, the members of Madison Teachers. Inc. voted to ratify a one-year extension of their contract, extending their collective bargaining rights through the 2014-2015 school year. It includes a modest 0.75 percent wage increase — but more importantly, it provides worker security.

On September 6, 2013, MTI sent a letter to its members under the joint signatures of MTI Exceutive Director John Matthews and new Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham announcing that negotiations on a successor contract would commence later that month. Several weeks later, a successor contract was agreed upon and ratified.

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Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear appeal of case overturning aspects of Act 10 on November 11th

October 8, 2013

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has announced that it will hear oral arguments in the case of Madison Teachers, Inc. v. Scott Walker — the challenge to the state’s collective bargaining law — at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, November 11, 2013. This is more than a year after Dane County District Judge Juan Colás struck down […]

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