(UPI) -- A state judge Friday ruled a Wisconsin law restricting collective bargaining rights for many public employees is unconstitutional.
The law, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed into law by GOP Gov. Scott Walker in 2011, stripped teachers and local government of collective bargaining rights.
Dane County Judge Juan Colas ruled parts of the law "single out and encumber the rights of those employees who choose union membership and representation solely because of that association and therefore infringe upon the rights of free speech and association" guaranteed by the state and U.S. constitutions, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
The judge also ruled the law creates separate classes of state workers and treats them differently and unequally, in violation of the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause.
The decision would restore bargaining rights in place in 2011, before the law was signed, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.
A federal judge had previously ruled the part of the law affecting state workers unconstitutional, the newspaper said.
Lester Pines, an attorney for teachers and Milwaukee public employees, said Friday's decision "essentially creates the (2011) status quo for municipal employees and school district employees because it declared that the essential provisions of Act 10 to be unconstitutional."
Dana Brueck, a spokeswoman for state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, said the state will probably appeal Friday's ruling.
"We believe the law is constitutional," Brueck said.
A spokesman for Walker said the governor is "confident today's ruling will be overturned upon appeal."
If Friday's ruling is upheld on appeal, revisions in wages, benefits and working conditions that have been imposed under the 2011 law -- at a time when those workers essentially had no collective bargaining rights -- may be subject to renegotiation, the newspaper said.
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