Union Leader Objects To Petition Restrictions

The head of the largest union representing Wisconsin state workers said Gov. Scott Walker’s administration is placing unconstitutional restrictions on where signatures to recall Walker can be collected.

Wisconsin State Employees Union Director Marty Beil sent a letter of complaint Wednesday to the secretary of Walker’s Department of Administration.

Beil said at least three state agencies have said employees are forbidden from collecting signatures while on state property, during work breaks or on their lunch hours.

His letter said those restrictions are a violation of the workers’ free speech rights and asked that the policies be rescinded.

“We find this to be extremely restrictive, to the point that we think it actually violates the rights of state workers. So if (Secretary Mike Huebsch) decides not to resolve these issues, we’re prepared to move to court,” Beil said.

The Department of Administration said Thursday that this is only a reminder of a policy that has been in place since 1990, and that the state Employment Relations Office typically provides this guidance during election cycles.

The state said the Capitol Square is a general exception to this rule, and that state employees would be allowed to circulate petitions there on off-hours as it is considered an “open public forum.”

AFSCME said it has lawyers preparing legal documents for a lawsuit if the state sticks to the policy.

Organizers need more than 540,000 signatures by mid-January to force a recall election.