Wisconsinites’ Right to Work for Less

In December of 2014, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said a right-to-work-for-less bill would be a distraction from his preferred legislative agenda.  But more recently, he opined that such a bill had become appropriate because his budget and legislative agenda have been finalized.  In a burst of frankness, Walker followed up by stating that passing right-to-work-for-less legislation would be a step toward achieving his presidential ambitions.  (Walker has made other similar “pander to the right wing” statements of late.  For example, in an interview in February, Gov. Walker refused to say whether he believed in evolution.)

A number of Wisconsin labor leaders point to the governor’s recent championing of right-to-work-for-less as self-serving, to say the least.  These same leaders also insist that the governor is rushing the bill through the legislature to discourage discussion.

Rick Badger, the executive director of AFSCME Council 40, was perhaps the most frank and succinct of these critics.  He said, "This bill makes us more like Mississippi."  The bill to which Mr. Badger objects would allow workers in private workplaces to opt out of paying fair share fees. Those are fees paid by people who don’t want to join unions. Because they receive benefits, they pay a fee that covers the cost of bargaining and enforcing the labor agreement.  Union busters want to enable workers to be free riders, benefitting from the union but paying nothing for it. The plan is to bankrupt labor organizations, giving corporations all the power.

Wisconsin’s Senate narrowly approved this right-to-work-for-less bill on Feb. 25.  It’s expected that the state’s Assembly will vote on the measure sometime in the first few days of March.  Like Wisconsin’s Senate, that lower chamber is controlled by Republicans.  Therefore it’s safe to anticipate that Gov. Walker will make good on his pledge to sign the bill.

When he does, that will bring to 25 the number of states that have right-to-work-for-less laws, and reduce union membership in Wisconsin further.