Local Union Members Want Answers in Light of Collective Bargaining Ruling

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

An employee for the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, who represents thousands of public workers in North Central Wisconsin, has been busy.

John Spiegelhoff represents union members employed by more than 50 government agencies from Stevens Point to Iron County.

A year and a half ago, he was shocked to find out Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill included ending collective bargaining rights for most public workers.

But the recent court decision finding parts of the law now known as Act 10 unconstitutional, restored hope for the union.

"At this time we remain hopeful. It was a decision based on constitutional grounds and we remain hopeful that ultimately we'll prevail," Spiegelhoff said.

Spiegelhoff has been at his computer and on the phone since the decision. Curious union members want to know what happens next.

"They're asking about, what does this mean right here right now, does this mean that we can collectively bargain with our employers," he said.

He's telling people to sit tight and wait until a court decides whether it will grant State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's request to uphold the law until an appeal decision has been made.

Van Hollen says he will make the request Tuesday.

If the court does not grant Van Hollen's request, there may be a new fight for contract negotiations across the state.

"I can only speculate that we'd want to start collectively bargaining to employers over wages and hours and safety and conditions," Spiegelhoff said.

The ruling overturns the law for city, municipal and school district employees, but not for state or UW-System employees.


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