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Judge voids collective bargaining law

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news River Falls, 54022
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

A judge in Madison has struck down the law to virtually end collective bargaining by most of Wisconsin's public employee unions.

In a 33-page decision issued Thursday morning, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi said legislators broke the state's open meeting law when they passed the anti-union bill in March. Therefore, she said, the law must be voided.

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Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne filed the complaint that Sumi ruled on. Among other things, he said a joint Assembly-Senate panel did not provide enough public notice before endorsing the measure on March 9.

Meanwhile, the state Supreme Court is scheduled to take up the matter on June 6.

Gov. Scott Walker's administration has asked the justices to nullify Judge Sumi's previous decision to block the union law, and to put it into effect.

Assembly speaker comments

Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, a Republican, repeated Thursday that his party will insert the bargaining limits into the next state budget if the courts are not moving quickly enough on the matter in June. Fitzgerald said he realized it would bring the protesters back. He said the bargaining limits affect much of the next budget and they must be put into place.

He made his comments on Charlie Sykes' conservative talk show on WTMJ Radio in Milwaukee before Judge Sumi announced her decision.

Walker signed the measure before Sumi blocked it a few weeks ago. It would limit most union bargaining to pay raises at or below the rate of inflation.

Work rules and other benefits could no longer be negotiated. Employees would have a choice of whether to pay union dues - and unions would have to hold certification votes each year. It also requires state employees to pay more toward their pensions and health insurance.

Teacher resigns after e-mailing legislator

A Peshtigo High School teacher resigned this week after he wrote a profanity-laced e-mail to his state representative.

Rob Schneider quit before the school board could consider a punishment.

A choral instructor for 18 years, Schneider wrote that he wished a semi-truck would run over state Rep. John Nygren and Gov. Scott Walker, both Republicans.

Nygren had the state Justice Department investigate. The department found that Schneider was intoxicated at the time, and that he really didn't mean to hurt anyone.

The teacher said he was upset about what he called troubling events in his personal life, and that he was angry at Nygren for supporting the bill to restrict collective bargaining.

Schneider said he has always been a dedicated teacher and the anti-union bill and financial concessions put a lot of pressure on him and his family.

Schneider said he wrote the e-mail from home. He used his school account so Rep. Nygren knew immediately who sent it.

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