On November 20, 2013, a unanimous Wisconsin Court of Appeals affirmed the Racine County Circuit Court’s decision in favor of 500+ City of Racine employees whose collective bargaining agreements the City had repudiated in the summer of 2012. A brief history of the case is as follows: In late 2010 and early 2011, the City negotiated five separate collective bargaining agreements with union employee in its fire, police, public works, parks, water and wastewater, and city hall bargaining units. There were ten (10) contracts in all, one of which covered 2011-2012 and 2013-2014 for each of the five union bargaining units.
In the summer of 2012, more than a year after the City signed the ten collective bargaining agreements, the City’s common council announced that it was repudiating the five agreements that covered the period January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2014, claiming that they were illegal under 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, Governor Scott Walker’s union-busting legislation. Three unions joined forces to sue the City for breach of contract, namely, IAFF Local 321, AFSCME Local 67, and the Racine Police Association. On January 15, 2013, the Racine County Circuit Court held that the City had breached all five of the 2013-2014 collective bargaining agreements, and that the five were agreements were valid and enforceable in all respects. The decision means that the City will be obligated to fulfill its promise to pay the affected employees millions of dollars in wages, health insurance, retirement, and other benefits, as promised in the 2013-2014 agreements.
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals’ decision, affirming the Circuit Court’s decision, can be found here.