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International Association of Machinists District 10 and Local Lodge 873 v. State of Wisconsin

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

July 12, 2016

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MACHINISTS DISTRICT 10 AND LOCAL LODGE 873, Plaintiffs,
v.
STATE OF WISCONSIN, SCOTT WALKER, DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, AND RAY ALLEN, [1] Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM M. CONLEY District Judge

         Plaintiffs International Association of Machinists District 10 ("District 10") and its Local Lodge 873 filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and § 302(e) of the Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 186(c)(4), challenging a single provision of Wisconsin's recently enacted "Right to Work" law, 2015 Wisconsin Act 1. Specifically, plaintiffs contend that the provision of the law making "dues check-off authorizations" revocable upon 30 days' notice by an employee, Wis.Stat. § 111.06(1)(i), is preempted by § 302(c)(4) of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. § 186(c).[2]

         Plaintiffs have moved for a preliminary injunction to enjoin defendants from applying Wis.Stat. § 111.06(1)(i) to any dues check-off authorization governed by the LMRA. (Dkt. #2.) For their part, defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the entire suit should be dismissed because (1) plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the statute and (2) plaintiffs have failed to name a proper defendant. (Dkt. #25.)

         Defendants' motion will be granted with respect to its arguments that the State of Wisconsin, Governor Walker and the Department of Workforce Development ("DWD") should be dismissed as defendants. The motion will be denied in all other respects, however, because the court concludes that plaintiffs have standing to sue and that the Secretary of the DWD is an appropriate defendant.

         While their lawsuit may continue, plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction will also be denied. Although plaintiffs have shown some likelihood of success on the merits, they have failed to make any showing that they will suffer irreparable harm absent an injunction. Ultimately, in order for plaintiffs to obtain the broad scope of injunctive relief requested, they must also amend their complaint to add a claim against the chairman of the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission ("WERC"). Accordingly, this case shall proceed with plaintiffs filing an amended complaint and then with dispositive motions under the current schedule.

         FACTS[3]

         International Association of Machinists District 10 ("District 10") is a labor organization located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is composed of approximately 30 lodges, including Local Lodge 873. Both District 10 and its lodges represent employees for purposes of collective bargaining and are parties to numerous collective bargaining agreements with various employers. Local 873 represents employees at the John Deere plant in Horicon, Wisconsin, and is party to a collective bargaining agreement with John Deere. That collective bargaining agreement is effective October 1, 2015, through October 1, 2022. Among the employees the union represents under the collective bargaining agreement is Lisa Aplin, who works as an assembler at John Deere.

         On or about November 18, 2002, Aplin signed a dues check-off authorization authorizing the deduction of union dues from her wages, which the parties agree continued in effect under the latest collective bargaining agreement. The authorization stated that:

This authorization shall be irrevocable for one (1) year or until the termination of the collective bargaining agreement between my Employer and the Union, whichever occurs sooner. I agree that this authorization shall be automatically renewed for successive 1-year periods or until the termination of the collective bargaining agreement, whichever is the lesser, unless I revoke it by giving written notice to me Employer and Union not more than twenty (20) and not less than five (5) days prior to the expiration of the appropriate yearly period or contract term.

(Dkt. #1-8.)

         On July 31, 2015, however, Aplin sent a letter to John Deere stating that she no longer wished to pay union dues. Invoking 2015 Wisconsin Act 1, Aplin's letter explained that she was now allowed to terminate her dues check-off authorization at any time, rather than having to wait until the end of the year of the authorization's life, so long as she provided at least 30 days' written notice of termination. On or about September 11, 2015, District 10 advised Aplin that her request would not be granted because it was not presented during the narrow 15 day window leading up to expiration of the appropriate yearly period or contract term.

         After receiving the union's letter, Aplin filed a complaint with the Labor Standards division of the DWD, alleging that "union dues were taken out after opting out of the union." John Deere responded to Aplin's complaint by producing copies of her authorizations for check-off of dues and the collective bargaining agreement, advising that Aplin could only revoke the automatic check-off once a year during a narrow window leading up to the anniversary date of her signing the checkoff agreement or upon termination of the collective bargaining agreement, whichever occurs sooner.

         On November 12, 2015, an investigator from the Labor Standards Division of the DWD issued a decision finding that the dues taken from Aplin's paycheck after she submitted her withdrawal were "unauthorized and illegal."

Under Wisconsin Statute 111.06(1)(i) such a deduction is illegal unless you have the employee's signed authorization to make the deduction and the authorization is terminable by the employee giving the employer at least 30 days' written notice of the termination. The changes to Wisconsin Statute 111.06(1)(i) required the 30 day termination notice period were enacted as of March 10, 2015 and were certainly in effect as of July 1, 2015 when the Labor Agreement between the employer and union was modified and extended.
The Complainant provided the employer with written notice that she no longer wished to pay union dues or any fees on July 31, 2015. In accordance with Wisconsin Statute 111.06(1)(i) any union dues or fees deductions taken after the 30 day notice period, August 30, 2015, are considered unauthorized and illegal deductions from wages earned. Under Wisconsin Statute 109 the wages Ms. Aplin earned are due and payable.

(Dkt. #1-12.) The letter also informed John Deere that it could seek administrative review within the DWD within 15 ...


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