George Leef examines for Forbes readers a legal challenge to Wisconsin’s right-to-work law.

Once a state has enacted RTW, the unions will try almost anything to reverse that, with litigation being a preferred tactic — which brings us back to the Badger State. Opponents of RTW there (i.e., advocates of compulsory unionism) filed a lawsuit in which they argued that the law violates the state’s constitution. Of course, they were savvy enough to file in a friendly court and on April 8, Dane County judge William Foust ruled that the law was invalid. …

… So, why is RTW illegal in Wisconsin?

Judge Foust states that under RTW, “a free-rider problem is born – the ability of nonmembers to refuse to pay for services unions are compelled to provide by law.” And that, in turn, violates the state constitution because, reasoned Foust, it deprives the unions of their property without just compensation.

The first problem with Judge Foust’s decision is that it is based on an inaccurate but widely held (because Big Labor propagates it) notion that the applicable federal statute, the National Labor Relations Act, compels unions to bargain and represent individuals who do not desire such services.

Not so. As Rick Esenberg, president of the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty correctly states, “No union is compelled to represent any group of employees. When it chooses to do so, it receives extraordinary statutory privileges….If it is unwilling to … serve as an exclusive agent without the ability to compel payment, it does not have to do so.”

Unions can enter into members-only contracts, providing their services only to workers who are willing to pay the dues. The complaint that RTW is unfair to them because it allows an escape hatch for workers who don’t think the union is worth what it costs is baseless.

The same argument has been tried before and rejected by other courts. After Indiana passed RTW in 2012, the unions ran the same litigation. That case, Sweeney v. Daniels, was dismissed by the federal district court that heard it and that ruling was upheld by the Seventh Circuit.

While it is nice for once to hear unions talking, however insincerely, about property rights, the idea that they have a property right to the dues money of workers who don’t want their services is preposterous – just as it’s preposterous for any legally-sanctioned monopoly to argue that it is forever entitled to collect revenue from customers who’d rather go elsewhere.