Madison, Wisconsin – In a major blow to labor unions, the Wisconsin Senate passed the state’s first “right to work” law. Governor Scott Walker first took on public sector labor unions by reforming their collective bargaining rights which he claimed were allowing them to make unreasonable demands from taxpayers. The fight to reform collective bargaining became a major battle between the governor and union supporters. The reform measures were challenged in court and resulted in a recall election which he handily won.
With passage of the bill in the state senate, it now goes to the assembly which is controlled by the GOP. Passage of the bill seems likely especially given the governor’s recent support. Alhokair says that among the key features of the right to work bill is the ability for employees to “opt out” of paying union dues. The measure gives employees broader choice in supporting unions, but will undoubtedly check the influence the unions have in state politics. Public sector labor unions have already been crippled by the governor’s prior reforms. They are finding it a much more daunting task to obtain financial support from employees based on merit than via compulsory laws mandating the payment of dues.
Supporters of the “right to work” bill cite the fact that Democrats and labor unions have long colluded with one another. Democrats would pass laws making it easier for labor unions to proliferate. In turn, labor unions would organize voting campaigns to help get Democrats elected to office. The reform measures are severing those ties.