Wisconsin’s Right to Work Law has survived yet another legal challenge. A three-judge panel of 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled that two union affiliates, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139 and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 420, did not provide sufficient cause for the court to overturn a previous decision upholding the Right to Work Law in Indiana. (emphasis added)

Beyond re-arguing the merits of the Sweeney decision, IUOE {the union affiliates} notes that Chief Judge Wood published a strong dissent in that case, see Sweeney, 767 F.3d at 671–85 (Wood, C.J., dissenting), and that this Court’s vote to rehear Sweeney en banc was close, see Sweeney v. Pence, No. 13-1264 (7th Cir. Jan 13, 2015). Such facts, however, are not “compelling reasons” to overturn a recent decision. See Santos, 461 F.3d at 894 (“the previous decision [having been] upheld by a 5–5 vote” was not a compelling reason to overturn it); Kendrick, 647 F.3d at 734 (“a solid defense of the arguments that we rejected in [prior cases] … does not amount to a compelling reason to revisit” those cases) (citation omitted). Furthermore, IUOE points to no intervening developments in statutory, Supreme Court, or even intermediate-appellate-court law between Sweeney and today that undermine Sweeney’s validity. In sum, IUOE does not provide any compelling reason to revisit Sweeney, and we decline to do so.

The Right to Work law prohibits employers in Wisconsin from entering into agreements with unions that would require employees to join the union or at least pay dues to compensate the union for collective bargaining. The unions asked the court to overturn the law, claiming they had a right to dues from employees. Denying the unions the ability to compel union membership or payment of dues was an unconstitutional taking of those dues from the unions.

In a statement, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel praised the decision. “The decision from the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirms what we have argued since this law was enacted in 2015, that Right-to-Work is constitutional,” Schimel said. “The Constitution does not protect a union’s right to take money from non-union members and I’m proud to have defended the rule of law in Wisconsin.”

The decision was also praised by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce’s Chris Reader, the organization’s Director of Health and Human Resources Policy. “Once again, a court has rejected the ridiculous argument that labor unions have a right to workers’ wages,” Reader said. “The ruling today is a tremendous victory for workers in Wisconsin and affirms the constitutionality of the state’s Right to Work law. Our economy has benefited greatly from Right to Work, and today’s ruling should be celebrated.”

The Associated Press is reporting the unions are considering what to do next.

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