Madison Mayor Opens Up On Right-To-Work Opposition


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As Wisconsin lawmakers prepare to debate an upcoming right-to-work bill, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin detailed why he opposes the idea.

The policy, which has passed in 24 states, outlaws forced unionization as a condition of employment. It means workers cannot be required to pay union dues or become a member in order to have a job. After making clear his opposition to the proposal over the weekend on WKOW, Soglin further detailed his stance on Monday as the state legislature prepared to debate it.

“It is evident that strong unions build a strong healthy economy,” Soglin told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The impediments to economic development and job creation are not high taxes or organized labor.”

“Historical and present evidence makes it clear that wise public investment in human capacity and infrastructure are the key to priming private investment,” he detailed. “Madison is driving Wisconsin’s economy, a city with a strong union presence.”

Though it did not go as far as an actual right-to-work law, Soglin points to Act 10 as an example of how reducing union power hurts workers. Governor Scott Walker passed the act during his first term with the help of the Republican controlled legislature. 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.

“We are creating the new jobs, raising incomes, lowering unemployment – all in the shadow of the devastation of Act 10 which has wrecked havoc on the state’s economy,” Soglin said.

However, Walker has previously argued that Act 10 helps Wisconsin by saving taxpayers billions of dollars, along with allowing for more flexibility with local officials and improving the state’s school system.

Soglin also argued that a better approach would be to focus on education and workplace training to improve the state economy.

“We agree with informed entrepreneurs – the most important factor in making a company work is an educated, skilled, workforce,” Soglin concluded.

Detractors argue a right-to-work bill is not just good for the economy, but also good morally, because it gives workers a choice on whether they want to join a union.

A recent report by the Heritage Foundation found that forced union membership oftentimes hurts workers much in that same way business monopolies hurt consumers. The report found those states that allow required union membership for employment, unions will have higher dues and be far less efficient as opposed to states that don’t require union membership as a condition of employment.

Nevertheless, Americans for the most part approve of right-to-work laws. According to Gallup, union approval is at 53 percent while right-to-work is at 71 percent.

The AFL-CIO, with support from other unions, is planning a rally to oppose the proposal Tuesday and Wednesday as the state legislature begins debating it.

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