A federal appeals court has upheld Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's contentious law stripping most public workers of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago found the law is constitutional and its ban on the automatic deduction of union dues is acceptable.
Seven public unions, including the state's largest teachers' union and the largest statewide public sector union, challenged the law's constitutionality in 2011. U.S. District Judge William Conley in March overturned a part of the law requiring unions to hold elections each year for members to decide whether the unions should continue to exist. The judge also said the law illegally halted the automatic withdrawal of union dues.
Walker issued a statement calling the ruling a victory for Wisconsin taxpayers.
"As we've said all along, Act 10 is constitutional," the statement said.
Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who handled the appeal on behalf of the state, issued a statement saying the ruling confirms "what I have stated from the beginning. (The law) is constitutional."
Republican and Democratic state legislative leaders, who fought over passage of the bill two years ago, did not immediately return messages.
In a separate case, a Dane County circuit judge in September ruled that the law violated constitutional rights of free speech, free association and equal representation. That ruling blocked the law from being applied to school and local government workers, but it remains in effect for state workers and employees of the University of Wisconsin System.
That case was brought by Madison Teachers Inc. and Public Employees Local 61. The state has appealed.