The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, April 22, 2016

News Briefs

By The Building Tradesman

For now, Wisconsin RTW law overturned

A Dane County judge struck down the Wisconsin right-to-work law on April 8 a year after the law took effect.

Judge William Faust agreed with a group of private sector unions that brought the case, who argued that state and federal laws requiring unions to provide service to all employees - whether or not they pay dues - creates an illegal "taking" of their services. In Michigan, which saw its right-to-work law adopted in 2012, and in every other state where RTW has been imposed, the system of allowing "free riders" to enjoy the benefits of union representation without having to pay dues has been upheld in the courts. Until now.

Faust wrote in his ruling: “a free-rider problem is born — the ability of non-members to refuse to pay for something unions are compelled to provide by law.”

The state's Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel, who defended the law in court, said "we are confident the law will be upheld on appeal,” he said. And GOP Gov. Scott Walker agreed.

Paul Secunda, a law professor and director of the labor and employment law program at Marquette University Law School, told he found Foust’s legal theory supportable but added there is enough ambiguity in the law that the 5-2 conservative majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court will likely overrule him.

“At this point the Wisconsin Supreme Court is clearly not inclined to engage in any kind of analysis that would lead to right-to-work laws being found unconstitutional,” Secunda said.

Walmart must pay for worker breaks

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of Walmart Stores Inc. vs. Michelle Braun, leaving intact a 2014 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling upholding a class action lawsuit which the retail giant was ordered to pay $187.6 million in back-pay for rest breaks and off-the-clock work that the company’s policy mandated. The court decision is a victory for workers, but Walmart has indicated that the legal battle is not over. Walmart also suggests that their policies have changed since the decade-old claims were made.

The class in the case includes all Pennsylvania Walmart workers from 1998 to early 2006. Donovan Litigation Group, the workers’ legal firm, says that interest means the company actually owes $224 million. Following the decision, Making Change at WalMart (MCAW) released a statement contextualizing the victory:

“Today, the highest court of the United States affirmed that Walmart workers have the right to be paid for every hour of hard work, not just the hours that Walmart wishes to acknowledge. Earlier this year, a labor board administrative law judge ruled in favor of Walmart workers who were unlawfully retaliated against for participating in strikes. The tide is turning in this country against Walmart.“

The Walmart case was one of three class actions against large companies upheld by the high court. As Forbes notes, the rejections reflect the new direction the court is likely to take following the death of former Justice Antonin Scalia.?

(From We Party Patriots)