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Politics & Government

Right-to-Work: Next Stop, Assembly

MacIver Institute

The bill that would ban compulsory union membership or dues payment for private sector workers continued its speedy trip through the Capitol Monday.

An assembly committee took nearly 12 hours of testimony on right-to-work.

The majority of those who testified were opposed to the bill. Some fear if dues become voluntary, membership will drop dramatically -- weakening unions.

Manufacturer Peter Schraufnagel, chairman of Super Excavators, Inc., said his business would suffer, as a result. He says unions are good for his company, providing much of the job recruitment and training that he can’t afford to offer.

“If it passes throughout the country, I’ll have to have my own HR department, I’ll have to have my own training facilities, I’ll have to have all those things. It costs me a lot more money, because I can’t afford to do it on my own,” Schraufnagel says.

A couple of business owners said they are Republicans – like the lawmakers shepherding right-to-work through the Legislature -- and they don’t understand why GOP lawmakers believe it’s appropriate to “meddle” in private business.

Some of the other speakers said they believe GOP lawmakers are not representing constituents, but rather donors. Will Williams shared that sentiment.

“I can’t see how you can even sleep at night, and I don’t believe you do. You’re vampires. You suck the blood out of working people to go and satisfy the people that give you the money for your campaigns, to pass the legislation that the corporations want,” Williams said.

Meanwhile, proponents of right-to-work say private sector workers should have the choice of whether to join a union. State Rep. Chris Kapenga, a Republican from Delafield, is lead sponsor of the bill in the Assembly.

“As history has proven, promoting individual liberty and freedom maximizes the prosperity of the individual and society as a whole,” Kapenga said.

The founder of a non-profit group, Union Conservatives, also spoke. Terry Bowman says many union members don’t feel they get anything valuable from their union. He claims union officials are laughing “all the way to the golf course,” spending union members’ money, and not being accountable. Bowman says right-to-work would change that, because unions would have to prove their value.

“It returns some of a worker’s power back to them. Union officials realize that there are consequences to inaction, consequences to poor representation, consequences to poor management of worker funds, and consequences to immense political spending that largely goes to one side of the political aisle,” Bowman says.

The bill’s next stop is the Assembly, where lawmakers are expected to approve it before the end of the week. Republicans hold a big majority in the Assembly. Gov. Walker has said he would sign the bill into law immediately.

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