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Kaul won’t defend worker freedom, but fight goes on

Josh Kaul

MADISON – A D.C.-area legal foundation plans to do what Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul has failed to do: defend worker freedom. 

The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is representing a Wisconsin paper company worker in a key case contesting mandatory union does. 

“I will promise you this … unless our client says to end the case, the foundation will see that all the way through, just like the attorney general for the state of Wisconsin should have,” Mark Mix, president of the Right to Work Foundation, recently told Empower Wisconsin on the Vicki McKenna Show. 

Mix means “all the way through” to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

In April, Democrat Kaul dropped the state’s defense of the dues checkoff provision in Wisconsin’s right-to-work law, just as it appeared the U.S. Supreme Court was leaning toward taking the case brought by Kaul’s Republican predecessor. 

Kaul, the benefactor of big donations from Big Labor, broke a campaign promise that he would defend Wisconsin’s laws. Apparently what the partisan AG meant was that he would defend laws he and his union allies like. 

Last year, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a split decision ruled against a provision in state law that allowed private-sector workers the right to back out of automatic union dues agreements within 30 days. The court found that Wisconsin’s more generous timeframe was preempted by federal union dues checkoff laws allowing unions up to a year to siphon member payments from workers checks. 

The appeals court’s ruling provides more protection for forced union dues, portions of which feed the campaigns of Big Labor’s political allies on the left. Organized labor, a multi-billion-dollar industry, spent more than $2 billion on the 2018 election cycle. The vast majority of that money went to Democrat candidates. 

Last year, then-Attorney General Brad Schimel asked the Supreme Court to review the lower court’s decision. Signs pointed to the high court’s growing interest in the case when Kaul pulled Wisconsin out of the lawsuit. 

The Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed the Wisconsin federal lawsuit shortly after Kaul punted. 

Donald Dillabough, an employee at the Clearwater Paper Corp. plant in Neenah, alleges the United Steelworkers local locked him into forced union dues for 13 months, a month beyond the federal dues checkoff period, even though he sought to leave the union long before. 

The Supreme Court has in recent years curtailed the power of Big Labor, especially on First Amendment grounds. Mix’s organization won a huge victory last year in Janus v. AFSCME in which the high court ruled that non-union government workers cannot be required to pay union fees as a condition of working in public service. 

“Hopefully the Wisconsin case will make it to the Supreme Court as well,” Mix said. 

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