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Right-to-Work Opponents Make Their Voices Heard in Madison

As the Wisconsin Senate opened its extraordinary session Wednesday on right-to-work legislation, police escorted two vocal opponents out of the room.

The first began shouting while Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald was reading his opening statement. Fitzgerald has placed right-to-work on the fast track, insisting Wisconsin's economy and private-sector workers need to be freed from mandatory union dues.

As police escorted the protester out of the room, another interrupted Fitzgerald and was removed. Senate President Mary Lazich then threatened to close the meeting room to spectators, if outbursts continued.

At noon on Wednesday, union supporters staged another rally outside the Capitol, featuring speeches and chants against right-to-work. Organizers asked union advocates to gather Saturday for a larger scale demonstration.

Among all those who registered opinions or to testify at Tuesday's public hearing on the proposed legislation, 25 went on record as favoring right-to-work while 1,751 were opposed.

The chair of the Senate labor committee cut the hearing short by 40 minutes, after he reported hearing that demonstrators planned to disrupt the vote. After clearing the room, the committee advanced the bill on a 3-1 vote.

During Wednesday's Senate debate, minority Democrats introduced amendments to the bill, which Republicans quickly dismissed. Majority Leader Fitzgerald called the right-to-work proposal the most significant jobs bill the Legislature will consider this session.

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