AG Schimel Defends Right-to-Work Law in Trio of Cases

May 22 2017

MADISON, Wis. – Today, Attorney General Brad Schimel announced the completion of all briefing in a trio of state and federal cases challenging Wisconsin’s Right-to-Work Law. Enacted as 2015 Wisconsin Act 1, the Right-To-Work Law prohibits unions from forcing nonmember employees to pay them money. These three pending cases will be decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals and Wisconsin Court of Appeals in the coming months.


“As Attorney General, I have the duty to defend all of Wisconsin’s laws, and I am proud of our success in defending Wisconsin’s Right-To-Work Law,” said Attorney General Schimel. “Our attorneys, including those in the Office of the Solicitor General, have been crucial to our success in keeping the Right-To-Work Law on the books and protecting the paychecks of hard-working Wisconsin citizens who do not choose to join a union.”


Attorney General Schimel filed Wisconsin’s final brief in International Association of Machinists v. Allen today. In this case, pending in the Seventh Circuit, unions are challenging the Right-To-Work Law’s provision allowing employees to revoke an agreement to deduct dues. These agreements, called “dues-checkoff authorizations,” require employers to take dues out of an employee’s paycheck automatically. The Union believes that employees can only revoke these automatic-deduction agreements within a narrow, 15-day window each year. In briefing completed today, Attorney General Schimel argued that the Right-To-Work Law permits employees to revoke these agreements, and federal law does not preempt Wisconsin’s law in this area.


In two other companion cases, both named International Association of Machinists v. State of Wisconsin, the unions are claiming that the Right-To-Work Law is unconstitutional because it “takes” unions property without just compensation. One case is fully briefed and pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals, and the other case is fully briefed and has been argued in the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. As Attorney General Schimel argued in both of these lawsuits, the Right-To-Work Law does not take any union property, and does not force any union to perform any service.


Wisconsin is one of 28 states to have a Right-To-Work Law. No appellate court has ever struck down a state Right-To-Work Law.


These cases are being handled by the Office of the Solicitor General, with the assistance of the Division of Legal Services.


Relevant court filings are attached.