The Wisconsin Senate Approves Right-To-Work Bill
After a rigorous two days of debate, a statewide right-to-work bill has passed through the Wisconsin Senate and will be brought to the state Assembly next week.
The policy, which has passed in 24 states, outlaws forced union dues as a condition of employment. In their closing statements, Wisconsin senators opposed to the bill, known as SB 44, argued it lowers wages for workers and does nothing to attract jobs, while those in favor countered with opposite conclusions.
In his final statement before the Senate, Assistant Minority Leader Sen. Dave Hansen, a Democrat, praised the NFL Players Association for its recent criticism of the bill. Hansen declared, “They get it and you don’t” to his Republican colleagues in favor of the policy.
Along with criticizing the bill, Minority Leader Sen. Jennifer Shilling also lectured her fellow lawmakers for sticking to party lines and not properly explaining their sides.
“I have not heard anyone persuade anyone,” Shilling scorned. “None of you have explained your votes.”
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican, talked with reporters after the vote to detail what is going to happen next. He noted that the bill may not affect many for years depending on when they signed their labor contracts, because it does not affect contracts made before the bill was passed.
Fitzgerald also argued that the bill will help the state tremendously, especially in the manufacturing industry. “If we don’t do this we will continue to be sluggish.”
After the vote, Phil Neuenfeldt, the president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, spoke to a crowd of union members and supporters during a labor rally outside the state capital. During his speech, he claimed the bill is the result of out-of-state corporate interests.
“They want more power, they want more profits and they want it on the backs of workers,” Neuenfeldt declared. “We’re here to fight for our workers rights to unionize.”
F. Vincent Vernuccio, the director of labor policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, who testified before the Senate in favor of the proposal on Tuesday, said right-to-work laws are good for workers, despite the hype from unions.
“Right-to-work simply takes away a union’s ability to get a worker fired for not paying dues,” Vernuccio told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Vernuccio also noted that the policy can be good for unions because it compels them to offer a better service, since members can leave if they are not satisfied.
“Competition and trying to be the best and proving you are the best to your customers makes you better,” Vernuccio said. “There are a lot of misconceptions that are being put out there by unions backed economists and others.”
Wisconsin Policy Research Institute found in a recent poll of Wisconsin citizens that the state overwhelmingly approves of the policy. The poll found 62 percent would vote in favor of such a law, 32 percent would not and 6 percent didn’t know.
Next week, if the Assembly approve of the bill, it will move to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk to be signed. Fitzgerald is confident they have enough votes in both chambers to pass the bill.
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