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Wisconsin Budget Bill Creates New Standard for Union Organizing

Under Act 10, public sector unions must recertify annually by obtaining the support of at least 51% of all employees within the bargaining unit. If the union fails to receive such support, it will be decertified and one full year must pass prior to any union attempt to re-organize.

After the one-year period expires, the former decertified union could file as a “new” union seeking to organize the same employees within the bargaining unit. As a “new” union, the previously decertified union only needs to obtain “yes” votes from a majority of those voting, rather than a majority of those in the bargaining unit. As a result, a union could be reelected by a small minority of the same bargaining unit that previously decertified that union.

In the recently passed Wisconsin Budget Bill, the Wisconsin Legislature addressed this issue by changing the requirements for certification of a new union to mirror those for recertification of an existing union. Now, in order to be elected as bargaining representative, a new union will have to receive support from 51% or more of the entire bargaining unit, rather than simply the majority of those who vote. Section 3138g of 2015 Wisconsin Act 55 now states, “[a] representative chosen for the purposes of collective bargaining by at least 51 percent of the general municipal employees in a collective bargaining unit shall be the exclusive representative of all employees in the unit for the purpose of collective bargaining.” This language is consistent with the statutory requirements for recertification elections and is intended to reflect the general intent of Act 10.

If you have any questions about this or other portions of the new State Budget that may affect your workplace, please contact Joel Aziere at jaziere@buelowvetter.com or (262) 364-0250 or your Buelow Vetter attorney.


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