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Appeals court upholds changes for unions in Wisconsin law

| Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, 8:58 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. — A federal appeals court on Friday upheld Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's contentious law stripping most public workers of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights in a decision hailed by Republicans but not undoing a state court ruling keeping much of the law from being in effect.

The decision marks the latest twist in a two-year battle over the law that Walker proposed in February 2011 and passed a month later despite protests and Senate Democrats leaving for Illinois in a failed attempt to block a vote on the measure.

The law forced public union members to pay more for health insurance and pension benefits, which Walker said was needed to address a budget shortfall. It also took away nearly all their bargaining rights.

Walker and Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who fought for passage of the bill, called the ruling a win for Wisconsin taxpayers.

“As we've said all along, Act 10 is constitutional,” Walker said in a statement, referring to the law's official designation.

The decision, however, does not resolve a flurry of other lawsuits that have been filed over the law.

The most positive ruling for unions came in September when a state circuit court judge said the law was unconstitutional as applied to school and local government workers. That ruling is under appeal to the state appeals court.

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