A Wisconsin appeals court has granted an emergency request to put on hold a Dane County circuit judge’s ruling striking down the state’s so-called “right-to-work” law.
The 3rd District Court of Appeals granted the stay request made in April by Attorney General Brad Schimel, a Republican who is defending the law signed by Gov. Scott Walker and passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature.
Right-to-work laws prohibit businesses and unions from reaching agreements that require all workers, not just union members, to pay union dues. Unions challenged the law, arguing that it enables nonunion members to receive free representation. Wisconsin is one of 25 states with a right-to-work law.
In April, Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust struck down the law as unconstitutional after it was challenged by three unions — the AFL-CIO’s Wisconsin chapter, Machinists Local Lodge 1061 and United Steelworkers District 2.
Schimel asked Foust to put his ruling on hold while the appeal was pending, arguing that doing away with the law has created confusion for unions and employers. Foust declined, but state appeals court Judge Lisa Stark sided with Schimel in late May.
The lower court’s ruling that the unions would be harmed if it were put on hold was not substantiated by the facts, Stark said.
Stark said he was granting the stay while Schimel’s appeal was pending “given a relative lack of harm shown to either party or the public interest, the presumption of constitutionality of this duly enacted statute and the preference under the law to maintain the status quo to avoid confusion.” Stark also said Schimel had established that the state was likely to succeed on appeal.
Johnny Koremenos, a spokesman for Schimel, said in a statement that the ruling gives more certainty as the appeal is pending.
“We feel confident the law will ultimately be found constitutional,” Koremenos said.
Fred Perillo, the unions’ attorney, did not immediately return a telephone message left after office hours.
While the case is pending before the state appeals court, it is expected to ultimately go before the state Supreme Court, where conservatives hold a 5-2 majority.