Wisconsin is Set to Become the 25th Right-to-Work State
Friday, March 6, 2015
By Niraj Chokshi
Wisconsin is poised to strip union power even further after the state Assembly passed a so-called right-to-work bill Friday, which Gov. Scott Walker (R) has vowed to sign.
Once signed, the bill will make Wisconsin the 25th state to pass a right-to-work law. Neighboring Michigan and Indiana passed right-to-work laws in late 2012. In states without such laws, employees can be compelled to pay union dues even if they don’t want to become members if they benefit from union-negotiated contracts.
The Wisconsin bill was rushed through the legislature after being introduced late last month to avoid a repeat of the massive protests over similar union restrictions four years ago. The bill passed in a party-line vote, with no Democrats supporting it.
“It’s prudent to not let this languish for months,” state Sen. Steve Nass (R) told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In 2011, tens of thousands of protesters turned out in opposition to a bill curtailing public employee union power, which eventually became law. Thousands of workers protested last week as senators debated the right-to-work bill, according to reports.
Though he called the debate a “distraction” in December, Walker has also said that he supports the measure. In an interview with The Washington Post last month, he said that he “absolutely” would sign the bill.
During last year’s legislative session, right-to-work laws were proposed in 20 states, though none passed them. This year, lawmakers have proposed versions of such laws in New Mexico, New Hampshire, Ohio and Missouri.