A federal appeals court in Chicago heard oral arguments yesterday on the constitutionality of Wisconsin's 2011 law that restricts the collective bargaining rights of certain public employees. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case after a U.S. District Judge in Wisconsin threw out two parts of the law. One ended a union's ability to automatically withdraw dues from worker's paychecks. The other made unions hold annual votes to confirm their organized labor status.
The Wisconsin judge ruled that these laws were not illegal per se, but that they violated the equal protection clause since public safety unions were excluded from the new requirements. Police and firefighter unions backed the 2010 election bid of Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker, and Walker's subsequent crackdown on collective bargaining rights has mostly not included public safety unions.