A new union-backed group announced Monday it would defeat right-to-work legislation being discussed in Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Contractor’s Coalition, which consists of over 300 construction-related companies, argued that the construction industry would be harmed if the state passed a bill to prevent union membership as a condition of employment.
The group is an associate of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 18, which has helped fund and organize previous efforts to stop Wisconsin from adopting right-to-work legislation.
Wisconsin has been an organized labor battleground state ever since Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans in the legislature enacted Act 10, which significantly changed the collective bargaining process for most public employees. Most recently, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he wanted to make Wisconsin right-to-work.
“It’s refreshing to see private businesses stand up for workers and reject Right to Work legislation,” Pat Sink, a business manager for Local 18, said in a statement. “This type of legislation will only serve to reduce the quality of life for workers in Wisconsin as well as reduce the quality of workers businesses can hire. It’s a lose-lose scenario.”
“Right to Work will always be a threat, but for the moment it’s nice to be ahead of it,” Sink added. “As long as we continue to push forward I believe we can keep this type of legislation from impacting Ohioans.”
The union also supports prevailing wage laws, which keep public construction projects from underbidding the local industry for workers.
“They put prevailing wage laws in to recruit businesses,” Scott Manley, vice president for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Manley explained, “In fact, when we talk about businesses in the construction industry, especially big contracts, they are concerned about prevailing wage and not right-to-work.”
“We’re talking about employees having a choice,” Manley added. “It’s a pro-worker freedom policy.”
Manley also argued that right-to-work legislation isn’t just good for workers and companies, it can also benefit unions. He claimed that between 2010 and 2013, union membership in right-to-work states collectively grew by 57,000 while mandatory union membership states fell by 248,000 members.
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