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Wisconsin Senate Leader Wants Quick Right-to-Work Action; Impacts of Law, Unclear

justin kern

State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald hopes to advance a bill early in 2015 to make Wisconsin a right-to-work state. 

Right-to-work laws prohibit unions and employers from forcing private sector workers to pay dues.

Fitzgerald's remarks come after Gov. Walker has repeatedly said he doesn't want to pursue the issue because it would be a distraction.

Earlier this week, Republican Rep. Chris Kapenga said he would introduce a right to work bill, when lawmakers convene in January.

About two-dozen states have adopted such laws including Michigan and Indiana.

As for their impact, Cheryl Maranto, associate professor of management at Marquette University, says says it’s difficult to pinpoint, because diverse variables are play in states, and many studies produced have been done by advocates on one side or the other.

Yet based on what she considers the most academically rigorous articles, Maranto has drawn conclusions.

"It's clear that right-to-work laws reduce the level of unionization in the state. The overall estimates are about 5-10%.

"Secondly, I would conclude that these laws reduce wages by probably,  something in the area of 10-18%, and per capita income in states tend to be lower with right-to-work laws, as well.

"On the business side, self-employment is higher in right-to-work states and business bankruptcies are lower, but there's no significant difference in business capital investment or levels of employment," Maranto says.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.
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