A group of unions asked a judge Tuesday to hold Wisconsin labor relations officials in contempt for continuing to enforce parts of Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining restrictions despite a ruling the provisions are unconstitutional.
Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas decided last year the restrictions were unconstitutional as applied to two unions, one representing Madison teachers and the other Milwaukee public workers. It's unclear whether the ruling applies to all municipal workers in the state, though.
The state Supreme Court has agreed to take the case but the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission has continued to prepare for union certification elections in November as laid out in the restrictions.
Six public employee unions, including the state's largest teachers union, asked Colas in April to block WERC's election preparations. Colas issued a ruling last week saying his decision applies across the board but he stopped short of issuing a formal injunction, creating more confusion.
The unions warned WERC to stop the election preparations by Monday or they would seek to have the commission held in contempt of court. WERC refused, saying more than 400 unions have asked for the elections.
The six unions argue public unions have no choice but to go through elections or they'd be automatically decertified. They filed a motion with Colas on Tuesday demanding the judge find WERC in contempt, arguing the commission is trying to enforce restrictions Colas deemed unlawful.
"(Commission members) are officials who took an oath to defend and uphold the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions," the motion said. "Their contemptuous behavior is unprecedented. It displays an utter disrespect and contempt for the judiciary, in general, and the Court ... in particular."
The unions asked Colas to order WERC to cease and desist its election preparations, refund all fees any unions have paid to fund the elections and pay $2,000 for each day they fail to comply.
The unions' attorneys planned a news conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss the motion.
Peter Davis, WERC's chief counsel, said he hadn't seen the motion yet but the commission will file any responses in court.
"We won't be trying our case in the press," he said, "as they've apparently decided to do."