An English teacher in Kenosha County is concerned that a lawsuit to overturn Act 10 will force her to join a union and restrict her classroom teaching. Kristi Koschkee, a teacher at LakeView Technology Academy in Pleasant Prairie, and her attorneys at the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) have filed a motion with the federal court hearing the case asking to intervene in the latest lawsuit by unions to overturn the 2011 collective bargaining reforms.
“As a public school teacher who refused union membership, the lawsuit will restrict my freedoms in the classroom,” Koschkee said in a statement released Friday. “The public unions are once again trying to use the courts to handcuff all teachers, union or not, to collective bargaining agreements. If the unions are successful, it will hurt my ability to do what I love: teach students.”
The federal lawsuit by the Operating Engineers union seeks to have Act 10 ruled unconstitutional after the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME. Ironically, that decision stated, “State’s extraction of agency fees from nonconsenting public sector employees violates the First Amendment,” and public employees would no longer be forced to contribute to public sector unions.
The case is being heard by federal Judge Lynn Adelmann, a former Democratic state legislator in Wisconsin and generally a reliable judge for liberal special interests.
Despite Democratic hopes that Act 10 would be ruled unconstitutional, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul has stated his willingness to defend the law in court. Legislative Republicans, perhaps wary of Kaul’s intentions, have also filed to intervene in the lawsuit.
The motion by WILL on behalf of Koschkee says the involved parties do not necessarily represent the interests of the Pleasant Prairie teacher. “Intervenor timely seeks to intervene in this case in order to protect her interests, which interests are not adequately represented by any of the existing parties,” the motion says.
Koschkee’s attorney explained in a statement on Friday why WILL has filed the motion on her behalf.
“Once again, unions are trying to use the courts to overturn Wisconsin’s historic and successful collective bargaining reform law,” WILL attorney Anthony LoCoco said. “On behalf of our client, a school teacher, we’re fighting to ensure that workplace freedom is upheld in federal court. Our client deserves to have her day in court because she is uniquely positioned to argue for her legal and First Amendment rights.”
Act 10 was passed in 2011 by the Republican-controlled legislature despite mass protests, the occupation of the Capitol, death threats, a work-stoppage by teachers, and even Democratic state senators fleeing the state in an attempt to deny quorum. The law changed the rules for public employee union certification, ended the collection of union dues by government bodies in Wisconsin, and eliminated collective bargaining over benefits and work rules for public employees. The law was estimated by the MacIver Institute to have saved taxpayers over $5 billion by 2018.