As Wisconsin lawmakers prepare to debate a right-to-work proposal Tuesday, labor unions are making clear their adamant opposition.
“The effort to lower wages in America is going to reach new heights in Wisconsin this week,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka declared in a statement.
The policy, which has passed in 24 states, has faced adamant opposition from many labor unions and other left leaning organizations. Advocates argue it should be the choice of a worker on whether they want to join a union, while opponents claim it hurts workers because it allows employers to take advantage of them.
“Wall Street billionaires and political extremists are joining together to force a vote on Right to Work legislation which is wrong for Wisconsin hardworking families,” Trumka continued. “This is a blatant attempt to silence workers’ voices to stop us from speaking out about lower wages and mistreatment at work.”
The Wisconsin state chapter of the AFL-CIO has even planned a rally for Tuesday and Wednesday in front of the state capital. The national headquarters of several unions, including the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union have taken to Twitter to support the rally.
“In America, we have a strong tradition of having each other’s backs,” Trumka noted. “Right now, workers from throughout Wisconsin and across the country are gathering in Wisconsin to fight back, together. They are using the tool Governor Walker is most afraid of: their collective voice.”
“Unions and collective action are a powerful line of defense against this aggressive attack on our working families,” Trumka concluded. “We need to use this fight to help all workers – union and non-union – unite in their collective voice and in their demand to raise wages throughout our country.”
Though unions argue right-to-work legislation is harmful to workers, some studies have shown that it’s actually very beneficial to give people a choice on whether to join a union because it compels the unions to offer a better service. According to a recent fact sheet by James Sherk, a labor policy expert at the Heritage Foundation, the lower wage narrative is also very misleading.
“Average wages in right-to-work states are indeed slightly lower than in non-right-to-work states,” the fact sheet notes. “Studies that control for differences in costs of living find workers in states with voluntary dues have no lower—and possibly slightly higher—real wages than workers in states with compulsory dues.”
The fact sheet also noted, “Without right-to-work laws, unions can take their members’ dues for granted and provide lower quality representation.”
Wisconsin State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican, said last week during a press conference that he is confident the bill will pass.
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