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Assembly Democratic Leader responds to Act 10 ruling

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:19:56 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 18 2013 04:34:08 PM CST
MADISON, Wis. -

A federal appeals court has upheld Gov. Scott Walker's contentious law stripping most public workers of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights.

Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca released the following statement on the Act 10 ruling:

"While the Seventh Circuit Court upheld Act 10 on narrow legal grounds, the court did acknowledge that Act 10 appears to be an act of favoritism for 'friends' and punishing enemies. While that approach may be legal, the Judge David Hamilton notes that 'the United States Constitution does not forbid all legislation that rewards friends and punishes opponents.'
"Given the recent focus on bipartisanship, now would be a good opportunity to move away from positions the court acknowledges are likely favoritism and punishment. We must find real solutions the Wisconsin way of sitting down together and rolling up our sleeves to tackle problems with all stakeholders to repair some of the damage that has been done by this law. We are not a state that should have laws in place to settle partisan vendettas."
From the decision written by Judge Flaum:
"As unfortunate as it may be, political favoritism is a frequent aspect of legislative action."
“Hearne v. Board of Education, 185 F.3d 770, 775 (7th Cir. 1999). 
The court said, “there is no rule whereby legislation that otherwise passes the proper level of scrutiny . . . becomes constitutionally defective because one of the reasons the legislators voted for it was to punish those who opposed them during an election campaign.” Id. at 775. We went further stating,“[i]ndeed one might think that this is what election campaigns are all about: candidates run a certain platform, political promises made in the campaign are kept (sometimes), and the winners get to write the laws.”
From the dissent written by Judge Hamilton:
“The United States Constitution does not forbid all legislation that rewards friends and punishes opponents. The principal provisions of Wisconsin’s Act 10 may fit that description, but they are still constitutional under the generous standard of rational-basis review.”

One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross released the following statements on the release of the Act 10 decision by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals:

"The court acknowledged the rationale behind Gov. Walker and the Republicans' attacks on worker rights was to gain partisan political advantage – just like their gerrymandering of legislative districts and restricting voting rights. Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald’s boast that Act 10 was designed to prevent President Obama from winning Wisconsin’s Electoral College votes were specifically cited as unseemly.

"It is extremely disappointing that the result of this court’s majority decision is to continue to allow those with political power to attack the people and their rights to organize for safe working conditions, a more secure economic future and to elect representatives that will fight for them."

A 32-page dissent adds an exclamation point, writing:

"The net effect is that all public employees represented by unions that endorsed Governor Walker continue to enjoy collective bargaining … On the other hand, nearly all members of the public employee unions that did not endorse Governor Walker are categorized general employees. Their bargaining rights have been reduced to a hollow shell..."

Democratic Senator Miller released the following statement regarding the Act 10 decision:

"I am disappointed in the decision. Wisconsin has had a long tradition with freedom of association and was the earliest adopter of collective bargaining rights which resulted in relatively good relations between workers and public employers to the benefit of the people of Wisconsin."

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate released this statement on today's Act 10 ruling:

“We continue to believe that Scott Walker’s Act 10 is divisive, harmful and polarizing policy that sought to reward Walker’s political allies at the expense of working Wisconsin families.
“Even the federal appeals court that today upheld Act 10 on narrow legal grounds noted that the principal provisions of Act 10 fit the description of legislation that 'rewards friends and punishes opponents.'
“Regardless, nothing about Act 10 has created Wisconsin jobs, as evidenced by our recent ranking of 42nd in the nation in job creation. Today’s ruling should serve as a reminder that Scott Walker’s first priorities in office were acts of political favoritism, and not plans to fulfill his central campaign promise to create 250,000 new Wisconsin jobs.” 

United Wisconsin Executive Director Lisa Subeck released the following statement regarding the Act 10 decision:

"We are extremely disappointed by the decision of the 7th Court of Appeals which has upheld Scott Walker’s anti-worker Act 10 legislation. Act 10 was proposed and passed as a blatantly political maneuver to tip the scales in favor of Republican interests.

"Today’s decision tarnishes Wisconsin’s proud history as a pioneer of workers’ rights.
"It is a slap in the face to our public servants and the workers who fought so hard for the right to collectively bargain. Today our state has taken a giant step backward."

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