One Judge Can’t Reinstitute Forced Union Dues Throughout Wisconsin


Big Labor activist Dane County Judge William Foust won union bosses’ applause on April 8 by adopting a far-fetched rationale to find Wisconsin’s year-old Right to Work law to be unconstitutional. But his ruling is virtually certain to be overturned, and it will not even temporarily hinder courts in other Badger State jurisdictions from prosecuting illegal schemes to force workers to pay union dues or fees. Image: Dane County Circuit Court

For seven decades, union bosses across the nation have tried again and again to get federal and state courts to overturn state Right to Work statutes and constitutional amendments protecting employees from termination for refusal to pay union dues or fees as a job condition.

Union bosses’ legal crusade has been extraordinarily unsuccessful.  The occasional victories they have won in lower courts have been overturned again and again on appeal. But in Wisconsin this month yet another Big Labor activist jurist, Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust, has eagerly accepted union lawyers’ arguments and airily dismissed the findings of other courts, both state and federal.  On April 8, Foust issued a ruling in which he adopted a far-fetched rationale to overturn the Badger State’s year-old Right to Work law.  And Foust has not been content to block enforcement of the supposedly “unconstitutional” statute within his own jurisdiction.

Egged on by lawyers for the Wisconsin branch of the AFL-CIO and two of its member unions, Foust is now evidently trying to override, at least temporarily, the decisions of all other Wisconsin courts and reinstate forced union dues and fees statewide.

On Monday, Wisconsin’s Attorney General Brad Schimel will try to persuade Foust to put a stay on his order barring Wisconsin law enforcement officials throughout the state from prosecuting violations of its ban on compulsory union financial support.

Virtually all if not all Badger State legal observers who have commented on the matter agree that Foust’s lawless ruling will ultimately be overturned by the state Supreme Court.  But some freedom-loving citizens are concerned about union bosses’ trampling of independent-minded employees’ rights in the mean time.

Fortunately, despite Judge Foust’s overweening effort to enjoin the Right to Work statewide, employees in the overwhelming majority of Wisconsin workplaces can continue to assert their freedom not to bankroll an unwanted union under state law, and go to court if necessary to vindicate that freedom.  Despite the impression Foust tried to give late last week in his most recent anti-Right to Work ruling, no court outside of Dane County is bound by anything he wrote, and even other judges in his circuit could potentially protect employees from being forced to support a union financially if a relevant case is brought before them.