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Unions seek to block collective bargaining law with federal lawsuit


MADISON, Wis. 9WSAU) - Attorneys for the state said a lawsuit by employee unions against the new limits on collective bargaining is quote, “baseless” and “imagined.”

The government asked Federal Judge William Conley of Madison today to throw out the unions’ lawsuit, which seeks to drop the bargaining limits. Secretary of State Doug La Follette had the law published today, and it’s set to take effect tomorrow.

The unions said the law violates the U-S Constitution’s First Amendment right to freely associate. But in replying to the lawsuit today, the state called the claim “imagined.” And it said the unions made a “baseless” claim by saying the measure unconstitutionally discriminates against certain classes of public employees. The bargaining limits do not apply to fire and police unions. And they don’t apply emergency response teams either, after Governor Scott Walker approved that exemption when he signed the new state budget on Sunday. Lawyers from Michael Best and Friedrich filed the state’s response. They said the unions’ lawsuit was flawed, because it mentions the “right” to collectively bargain when the groups should legally call it a “privilege.”

Also, the state said the unions have no grounds for relief, because their potential harm is quote, “greatly outweighed by the harm to the state, municipalities, and the people of Wisconsin.” The state denied the unions’ claim that the new law is political payback, since the Milwaukee police-and-fire unions supported Governor Scott Walker in last year’s election.The state’s response said it was “absurd” that the law was meant to punish unions that supported Walker’s opponent Tom Barrett.

No date has been set for arguments in the case.