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Public Sector Labor Relations: Wisconsin

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Authors: Ronald S. Stadler and Aaron J. Graf, Gonzalez, Saggio & Harlan, LLP


  • Wisconsin was the first state to permit public sector collective bargaining in 1959.
  • All public sector employees who are not considered confidential, managerial, executive or supervisory have the right to join a collective bargaining unit, though the advantages of doing so have been curtailed by recent legislation. Municipal employee relations are governed by the Municipal Employment Relations Act (MERA). See Governing Law and Municipal Employment Relations Act.
  • State employee relations are governed by the State Employment Labor Relations Act (SELRA). See Governing Law and State Employment Labor Relations Act.
  • The administrative body charged with enforcement and oversight of such laws is the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission. See Governing Law.
  • Recent changes to Wisconsin law have significantly reduced general municipal employees' (GME) collective bargaining rights. See General Municipal Employees and Recent Changes in Wisconsin Public Sector Labor Law.
  • Recent legislation also largely abolished collective bargaining for University of Wisconsin system faculty and academic staff, UW Hospitals and Clinics Authority, and day care and home health care providers. See SELRA.
  • Strikes by any public sector employees are prohibited. See Strikes.