News Release

Teacher Files Brief in Wisconsin Government Unionism Reform Battle in Federal Court

Public-sector union bosses file desperate lawsuit seeking to protect forced dues stranglehold over Wisconsin’s public workers and taxpayers

Madison, WI (June 29, 2011) – With free legal assistance from the National Right to Work Foundation and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, a Kenosha teacher affected by Wisconsin’s recent public-sector unionism reforms has filed an amicus curiae brief in federal court.

Kristi Lacroix, who has been a teacher for 13 years and is an English teacher at the LakeView Technology Academy in Pleasant Prairie, filed the brief Monday in favor of the reforms which sharply limited government union officials’ monopoly bargaining power over public workers and taxpayers.

Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld Governor Scott Walker’s government-sector monopoly bargaining reform bill, which protects the Right to Work for most government employees and bans automatic forced-union-dues seizures from public employees’ paychecks.

In response, union lawyers filed a new lawsuit in federal court seeking to overturn the bill, claiming that Freedom of Association – the right of American citizens to voluntarily come together to express their opinions and petition the government – gives union bosses forced-dues and monopoly bargaining powers.

Foundation staff attorneys have won at the United States Supreme Court numerous times on this very issue, winning precedents that support the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s government-sector monopoly bargaining reform bill. For example, in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1976), Foundation attorneys successfully argued that compulsory union dues for union boss politics violate dissenting employees’ First Amendment rights.

More recently, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Davenport v. Washington Education Association (2007) that, because union bosses have no constitutional right to collect fees from nonmembers, a state may require union officials to obtain consent before spending nonmember government employees’ forced fees on political activities. The court upheld that precedent in Ysursa v. Pocatello Education Association (2009) when it ruled 6-3 that an Idaho law banning payroll deduction for union political dues from state and local government employees was indeed constitutional.

In their legal brief, union officials admitted that under the reforms public-sector union bosses would lose at least a quarter of their forced-union-dues revenues. For example, Wisconsin teacher union bosses would not be able to force independent-minded teachers to pay $5.4 million in forced dues and $375,000 toward teacher union boss political activism, thus highlighting the need for a Right to Work law for Wisconsin’s workers – in both the public and private sectors.

"Despite mounting budget deficits and a public that demands accountability, Big Labor operatives have made their position clear: No concessions, no compromise, and no surrender," said Mark Mix, President of National Right to Work. "But union boss intransigence shouldn’t be allowed to derail the necessary reforms that free Wisconsin public-sector employees from being forced to pay union dues just to get or keep a job and strip union operatives of their ability to drive up the cost of government."

"We intend to vigorously defend the Foundation-won Supreme Court precedents that guarantee government employees cannot be fired for refusing to subsidize union boss politics and to withstand Big Labor’s all-out assault to restore its forced-dues privileges over Wisconsin’s public workers."

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, is assisting thousands of employees in over 200 cases nationwide.

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