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Wisconsin Seeks Union Recertification Order Stay During Appeal

April 10 (Bloomberg) -- Wisconsin asked a federal judge to put on hold a ruling that overturned a law requiring members of some public employee unions to vote yearly on whether to continue their union representation.

State officials asked U.S. District Judge William Conley in Madison, Wisconsin, to stay enforcement of his decision that portions of the collective bargaining law are unconstitutional during an appeal. On March 30, Conley invalidated a part of Wisconsin Act 10, signed into law by Republican Governor Scott Walker last year.

Conley struck a portion of the law that prohibited voluntary deduction of union dues from paychecks of general employees while exempting “public safety” unions. He also overturned a requirement for annual certification of a union by more than half of the members, not just those voting.

If Conley’s order is put into force and then set aside on appeal, the result could be a “ping-pong effect on issues that have significant legal consequences,” the state said yesterday in a filing.

After Conley’s March 30 ruling, seven or more unions that had been decertified “demanded that the state immediately begin negotiations over total base wages” for their bargaining units, Wisconsin officials said in yesterday’s filing. If the court doesn’t stay the decision, the state will have to negotiate with those unions on wages, they said.

Mark Sweet, a lawyer for the unions, said the appeal wasn’t surprising, considering that Walker is facing a June 5 recall election.

“We are confident that the constitutional ruling by Judge Conley will be upheld just as the people of Wisconsin, will soon have their voices restored through the electoral process,” Sweet said in an e-mail.

Thousands of local municipalities covered by the law may face unfair labor practice claims if they don’t negotiate wages with unions as a result of Conley’s order, the state said.

The case is Wisconsin Education Association Council v. Walker, 11-cv-00428, U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin (Madison).

To contact the reporter on this story: Marie Rohde in Milwaukee at fmarierohde@gmail.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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