For a second time, labor unions and their allies have failed to unseat a member of the majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which badly undercuts their chances of getting the court to invalidate Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10. I’ve got details at Cato at Liberty.
The Toronto Globe and Mail prints my letter to the editor correcting some misrepresentations of U.S. labor law by Canadian Auto Workers union economist Jim Stanford. The text of the letter as it ran, slightly abridged, in the paper:
Jim Stanford says that in the 23 states with “right to work” laws, unions are “effectively prohibited; indeed, in right-to-work states, private-sector unionism is virtually non-existent” (Wisconsin’s Disease Crosses The Border – July 3).
This would come as a surprise to millions of employees in those 23 states who join and are represented at their workplace by unions. In Alabama, for example, which has had a right-to-work law since 1953, 183,000 workers (about 11 per cent of the labour force) are represented by unions, including 84,000 workers in the private sector. (source)
Emboldened or otherwise, Republicans in the states have no authority to alter the 1935 Wagner Act or other federal laws. In states like Wisconsin, they have sought to alter laws prevailing in about two-thirds of states that prescribe collective bargaining by public employees; these laws are of much more recent vintage than the New Deal, often dating to the 1960-85 period. Given Franklin Roosevelt’s well-documented skepticism toward collective bargaining by government employees, it is no surprise that he did not see fit to build any such element into his New Deal.
Walter Olson, senior fellow, the Cato Institute, Washington
Another infuriating extension of asset forfeiture law. [Radley Balko, Huffington Post]
Mitt Romney, following a long tradition of GOP candidates unable or unwilling to resist the continued expansion of employment discrimination law, has pre-emptively blessed Congress’s 2009 enactment of the ill-advised Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act gutting statutes of limitation. Hans Bader offers reasons why he should consider drawing the line. [Examiner] More: Ted Frank.
Related: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signs bill repealing duplicative damages law passed by his Democratic predecessors, thus contradicting the accepted narrative in which the scope of available damages in job-bias suits is supposed to be revisable only in an upward direction.
Sensible changes to the ground rules on labor relations — including the option to go around the union’s monopoly provider of health care insurance — are saving local governments hundreds of millions of dollars. [John Steele Gordon]
P.S. Bill McGurn on public employee unions in the still very unreformed state of New Jersey [Hillsdale "Imprimis"] And: how some public employees “spike” their pensions in California [L.A. Times via Amy Alkon]
“A Milwaukee lawyer who calls himself the ‘lemon law king’ is vowing to never take on a Republican client because of a new law limiting attorney fees in Wisconsin. … In a statement issued on Monday, [Vince] Megna compared Wisconsin to North Korea.” [ABA Journal]
“The Department of Justice has begun an investigation into Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction, probing whether Milwaukee’s state-administered voucher system is discriminating against students with disabilities.” [Joy Resmowits, Huffington Post]
American legislatures since the 1970s have widely employed “one-way” fee provisions — under which courts award fees to prevailing plaintiffs, but not to prevailing defendants — as a way of encouraging plaintiffs and their lawyers to bring a maximum of legal action; especially when the fee shifts are generously calculated, such provisions also put strong pressure on defendants to settle potentially defensible cases rather than take the risk of a big fee award that may exceed the sums in controversy. Now Wisconsin lawmakers are thinking of making the playing field a bit more level by reining in one-way awards, especially those that exceed the underlying dispute; another way of approaching the issue, of course, would be to make the shifts two-way. [Rick Esenberg]