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Bredhoff Files Complaint Challenging Wisconsin Act 10

November 30, 2023

Represented by Bredhoff & Kaiser, a group of ten unions and individuals filed a complaint in Dane County Circuit Court (Wis.) challenging certain provisions of Wisconsin’s 2011 Act 10, which fundamentally changed the landscape of Wisconsin’s decades-old system of public-sector labor relations.

Although the stated purpose of Act 10 was to address the state’s projected budget deficit during a temporary economic downturn, the vast majority of the Act’s provisions targeted Wisconsin public servants who had decided to join together and form labor unions. Act 10 fundamentally changed Wisconsin labor law by dividing public employees into two groups—a disfavored class of “general” employees and a favored class of “public safety” employees—and then imposing severe burdens on employees in the disfavored group while allowing employees in the favored group to proceed as though Act 10 were never passed. Those severe burdens on “general” employees include virtually eliminating their collective-bargaining rights by limiting bargaining to the single subject of base wages, capped by the consumer price index.

The complaint alleges that Act 10’s distinctions between “general” employees and “public safety” employees bear no rational relationship to the stated budgetary objectives of the Act or to any other legitimate State purpose. These classifications instead bear the hallmarks of unconstitutional distinctions that violate the equal protection guarantee enshrined in Article I, Section 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution. As a result, the complaint requests a declaratory judgment that the provisions of Act 10 treating “general” employees differently from “public safety” employees are unconstitutional, and it requests an injunction preventing state officials from enforcing these provisions.

The case is captioned Abbotsford Education Association et al. v. Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission et. al., Case No. 23CV3132 (Dane Cnty. Cir. Ct.).