Right-to-Work Law Upheld

July 17, 2017

Without much fanfare, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the Wisconsin Right-to-Work Law.  The Right-to-Work Law passed in Wisconsin is similar to a law passed in Indiana and holds that a company may not enter into a labor agreement with a union representing company employees that requires the employees to join the union or to have union dues withheld from their paycheck.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which oversees federal court matters for Wisconsin, held that the Wisconsin Right-to-Work Law was the same as the Indiana Right-to-Work Law that was previously found to be constitutional and that there was no basis for changing the prior Court of Appeals decision.  Unions had claimed that the Right-to-Work Law constituted a taking of union property rights (union dues) without due process and thus was a violation of the federal constitution.  The Court of Appeals held that this was not the case and the state legislature had the right to adopt this statute which limited the obligation of union membership for employees of a company.

The fight regarding the Wisconsin Right-to-Work Law is now really focused on when the law becomes effective for each company which depends upon existing labor agreements and the language in the labor agreement.  Many companies have proceeded with implementing this new law and giving notice to new employees that they are not required to join a union or have union dues taken from their paycheck.  A company should still honor voluntary dues deduction requests by an employee, but it is no longer something that can be mandated under the terms of a labor agreement.

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