WISCONSIN — A Dane County judge ruled Wednesday that parts of the state’s Act 10 law are unconstitutional.  

 The judge ruled that Act 10 violates the equal protection guarantee in the state’s constitution. Act 10 is former Gov. Scott Walker’s landmark legislation, which limits collective bargaining for public workers.

The Dane County judge made that ruling because the law applies differently to police, firefighters and public safety workers than it does to other public employees.

Professor Michael Childers specializes in labor education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He said he thinks the likelihood of the case going to the Wisconsin Supreme Court is all but guaranteed.

“This finding — if it was allowed to stand — would, in essence, remove the changes to collective bargaining laws and allow for the provision for all the public sector workers to again collective bargain similar to all the private sector workers in Wisconsin are able to do,” Childers said.

Act 10 became law 13 years ago.  

“It represented the first time in the United States history where Wisconsin was the first state to grant public workers the right to bargain collectively and then we became the first state to almost repeal those rights, except for a select group of workers,” Childers said.

In terms of what happens next, Childers said Act 10 could be wiped out completely if the ruling is allowed to stand.

“That’s exactly what the ruling means, which is why I think it’s a virtual certainty that this is going to be appealed and then on appeal, it’s going to go all the way until there is a final answer,” he said. “I know there’s been some confusion in terms of hasn’t this already been tried or haven’t there already been cases and that is true, but this case brought forward a specific detail about the way the law was implemented that the judge found disagrees with the state constitution.”

A Wisconsin Policy Forum study found that since 2000, no state saw a larger decline in the proportion of its workforce that is unionized than Wisconsin.