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Politics & Government

UPDATE: If Wisconsin Legislature Passes a Right-to-Work Bill, Walker Will Sign It


State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald made a surprise announcement Friday, calling the Senate into extraordinary session to take up right-to-work.

Fitzgerald wants Wisconsin to enact right-to-work legislation, and says he has enough votes to pass it. He says a bill will be introduced on Friday, with a vote expected next week.

A spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker, a fellow Republican, says Walker will sign such a bill into law, in the event that lawmakers approve it.

In recent months, Walker has said he would prefer lawmakers not consider right-to-work at this time, because it would be a “distraction” from work on the biennial state budget and other matters.

Right-to-work laws prevent private sector employees from being forced to join unions or pay union dues. Some pro-business groups back Right to Work laws, saying they make states more attractive to employers. Critics say the laws strip private sector workers of the negotiated wages and protections their unions can offer.

Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca released a statement in response to Fitzgerald’s call for an extraordinary session of the Legislature. Barca says Republicans are in a “rush” to approve right-to-work, in order to distract residents from a “disastrous” biennial state budget proposal.

Barca says the state already is “lagging behind most of the nation in jobs and wage growth” and says right-to-work “would only make things worse.”

Barca says the average worker in right-to-work states makes $5,000 to $6,000 less than the average worker in other states.

A number of others also commented on Sen. Fitzgerald’s call for an extraordinary session of the Legislature:

  • Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester): “As a strong supporter of right to work, I welcome the opportunity to take up legislation that gives Wisconsin workers the freedom to choose to join a union…the public widely supports worker freedom and the potential positive impact to the state’s economy can no longer be ignored.”
  • Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling: “It is absurd that Republicans would fast-track legislation to interfere with private business contracts and lower wages for all Wisconsin workers at a time when our state is facing a massive $2.2 billion budget crisis.”
  • Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce President/CEO Kurt Bauer: "The Legislature needs to move swiftly to pass Right to Work to provide freedom for workers and to improve our business climate. Let's get this bill to the Governor's desk so he can sign it."
  • Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt: “Right to Work rings a false promise for Wisconsin. Right to Work will not create jobs and will lower wages for all workers. Every worker suffers when states enact anti-worker Right to Work laws. Rushing this legislation through in an extraordinary session is a slap in the face to our democracy.”
  • Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin State Director David Fladeboe: “We thank Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Speaker Robin Vos for taking bold leadership on Right-to-Work and calling for an Extraordinary Session to consider this piece of vital legislation.  Passing a Right-to-Work law in the Badger State is long overdue and this bill will allow us to take major steps forward for the rights of workers across Wisconsin.”
  • One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross: “Right to work is wrong for Wisconsin workers and families. It’s a complicated scheme that tilts the system even further in favor of corporate CEOs who are concerned only with their profits. It’s sure not the people of Wisconsin who work hard and deserve a fair shot to succeed that are asking for the lower wages and reduced benefits that come with right to work.”