Wisconsin Lawmakers Strike At The Heart Of Unions

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Wisconsin lawmakers on Friday detailed a plan to call an Extraordinary Legislative Session next week to pass a right-to-work bill.

The policy, which has passed in 24 states, outlaws forced unionization as a condition of employment. Specifically, it means workers cannot be required to pay union dues or become a member in order to have a job. Advocates argue it should be the worker’s choice to join a union, while opponents claim right-to-work hurts workers because it allows employers to take too much advantage.

“We’re putting the finishing touches on the bill,” Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald declared to reporters during a press conference.

“It’s a fairly simple bill,” Fitzgerald went onto say. “We have an agreement between the Senate and Assembly of what it should look like.”

The bill will also have no impact on current labor contracts, according to Fitzgerald.

“On Monday morning at 9:00am, a ballot will be introduced for an Extraordinary Session to introduce right-to-work legislation,” Fitzgerald noted.

Fitzgerald and assembly leaders agreed that an Extraordinary Legislative Session was the best way to bring the bill forward. Under such a session, the governor is not required to be present.

The bill will hit the senate floor Wednesday for debate. After the debate, if it’s approved by the Senate, the bill will go to the State Assembly.  If both the Assembly and Senate approve, 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.

“My experience as leader is if you have the votes, you go to the floor,” Fitzgerald noted. “You don’t wait around.”

Republican State Rep. Chris Kapenga is also optimistic that the bill will end up with Walker’s signature.

“It’s about worker freedom,” Kapenga tells The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We know that individual liberty is the foundation of our country.”

Kapenga also refuted claims that right-to-work legislation is nothing more than an attempt to bust unions. Kapenga argues, “The legislation does not say you can’t be in a union.”

Kapenga recalls his first experience with forced unionization. When he was 19, working as an electric contractor, he noticed some unknown deduction from his paycheck. When he asked about it he was told if he wanted a job, he had to give part of his paycheck to his union. Kapenga notes that the experience never sat well with him.

There are also the economic benefits. Kapenga argues that right-to-work states often times have more job opportunities and income mobility which helps lower income workers earn more.

Though he is currently taking a hands-off approach to focus on other policies like education, Walker became a target for many national unions in his first term when he worked with the state’s Republican legislature to pass a labor reform initiative, known as Act 10. The act significantly changed the collective bargaining process for most public employees within the state. Since Act 10, union reform and the possibility of a full blown right-to-work law has captured much of the political dialogue in the state.

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