Unions were hoping for a victory before Labor Day, but once again the courts were not interested in hearing arguments against Wisconsin’s Right to Work Law. The full Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order on Friday that it is not interested in re-hearing the case after a three-judge panel rejected an appeal by IUOE Locals 139 and 420 of a lower court decision upholding the law.

As Law360 news service reported on Friday:

The full Seventh Circuit will not weigh a recently upheld Wisconsin right-to-work law prohibiting agreements that require union membership as a condition of employment and mandate “fair share fees” from nonmembers, according to a Friday order.

The same panel that backed the law in July denied a petition for en banc rehearing filed by the International Union of Operating Engineers. The union had argued that the Seventh Circuit should revisit a ruling it issued in 2014 in a case that upheld a right-to-work statute in Indiana, known as Sweeney v. Pence.

In Sweeney, the Seventh Circuit had divided evenly on whether to rehear en banc the 2-1 panel decision, and since then, similar right-to-work laws have been passed in places including Kentucky and West Virginia, the union had argued in its petition.

But the appeals court said in a short order Friday that no active judge had voted to take on the case and the panel denied rehearing, shutting down the request.

The unions claimed that they were providing union representation for non-union members for free under Right-to-Work laws. Therefore, the court should revisit its decision to uphold the Indiana law and strike down the Wisconsin law.

However, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel replied in August that the courts had decided the Sweeney case correctly and therefore there was no reason to revisit the Indiana case. A Seventh Court of Appeals panel agreed with Schimel and the full court has now refused to consider even taking up the matter.

Wisconsin is among 28 states that have Right to Work laws. Wisconsin’s law passed in 2015. Since then Missouri, Kentucky and West Virginia have also become Right to Work states.

National Right to Work Foundation

Map of states that have Right to Work laws. (Source: National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation)


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