The Wisconsin State Employees Union (WSEU) accused new Republican Gov. Scott Walker of unfair labor practices for refusing to bargain in a complaint filed Monday with a state employment commission.
The legal challenge comes amid a standoff between Walker and state legislative Democrats over a proposal to limit bargaining rights and require yearly recertification votes for many public sector employees represented by unions.
Instead of trying to find real solutions to the challenges facing the state, the governor is attempting to dictate terms. This not only in ineffective, it's against the law, AFSCME Council 24 Executive Director Marty Beil said in a statement.
The standoff has sparked two weeks of protests at the state capitol building in Madison, including one that drew more than 70,000 on Saturday, the biggest local protest since the Vietnam war.
The union asked the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission to require the state to bargain with the WSEU and to extend the current contract until the matter is resolved.
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The majority Republican Wisconsin Assembly approved the bill containing Walker's proposals last Friday after a 2-1/2 day debate. All 14 Senate Democrats had left Wisconsin earlier to prevent a vote on the bill in that chamber.
The WSEU had reached a tentative new labor agreement in December. But then-governor-elect Walker announced his opposition and actively opposed approval by legislators.
The Assembly voted to approve the agreement, but the Senate failed to adopt it after a tie vote.
The state has notified the union that it intends to end the extension of the current agreement on March 12.
(Reporting by David Bailey. Editing by Peter Bohan)