High court won’t review Marinette Co. labor dispute

The entrance to the Wisconsin Supreme Court is seen, Feb. 25, 2014.
The entrance to the Wisconsin Supreme Court is seen, Feb. 25, 2014. (WLUK/Andrew laCombe)

After losing a decision in the court of appeals – where the judges admonished Marinette County and its attorneys for “attempting to mislead” the judges – Marinette County will not get the chance to argue the case before the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Marinette County and Marinette County Professional Employees Local 1752-A disagreed about the interpretation how a contract extension was handled. An arbitrator ruled in the union’s favor – extending the contract by a year – and the county appealed. The appeals court ruled in the union’s favor.

The county asked the high court to review the case, but the Supreme Court said Thursday it would not take up the case, leaving the lower court ruling in effect.

In the decision issued Feb. 11, the appeals court made note to “remind counsel of their professional obligations” to offer “meritorious claims and contentions… And Candor toward the tribunal.” It called the county’s arguments about the illegal contract “disingenuous.”

“We find it patently absurd to argue an arbitrator’s award could be overturned for failing to consider arguments or authority that were never presented to the arbitrator. Not surprisingly, the County cites no authority for this proposition,” the court wrote.

Andrew Phillips, the county’s attorney, told Fox 11 the county asked the Supreme Court to review it because believed the initial contract violated state statutes and, as such, should be deemed void. The county maintained it can raise that as a defense at any stage but because there has not been court rulings of if that is proper during an arbitration hearing, it asked the high court to review it – but the justices declined to do so.

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