MADISON (WITI) -- The Wisconsin Assembly is gearing up for 24 hours of debate on Right-to-Work legislation. This, as Governor Scott Walker says he expects to sign the bill into law next Monday, March 9th.
The Wisconsin Assembly plans to start debate of the Right-to-Work bill at 9:00 a.m. Thursday, March 5th and end no later than 9:00 a.m. Friday, March 6th.
Twenty-four states have passed legislation to prohibit businesses and unions from reaching agreements requiring all workers, not just union members, to pay union dues. Supporters say workers should get to decide about joining. Opponents contend it'll reduce worker pay.
The bill would prevent private businesses from entering labor agreements with unions that force workers to pay union fees. The controversial legislation states "No person may require, as a condition or obtaining or continuing employment..." that a worker "pay any dues...to a labor organization." A violation, by businesses or unions, would carry criminal penalties of nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.
The full Senate passed Right-to-Work legislation last week in a 17-15 vote.
Governor Walker on Wednesday, March 4th addressed business leaders and job creators at the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce's annual "Business Day" in Madison. WMC is the largest business group supporting this bill.
Walker on Wednesday told the state's business leaders one of his bedrock principles is limiting government intervention in private business matters -- making the point no less than three times in 20 minutes.
"There are two ways we can help when it come sot job creation in this state -- one is to just get out of the way," Walker said.
But Democrats say Walker's support of the Right-to-Work bill is a violation of that idea.
The Wisconsin AFL-CIO has planned a noon rally at the Capitol in Madison as the Assembly debates the bill on Wednesday.
The bill's passage is all but assured. Republicans hold a commanding 63-36 majority over Democrats in the Assembly. Democrats say if they can't stop the bill, they'll attempt to change it. On Wednesday, they unveiled their plan to make amendments.
The Assembly Labor Committee met Wednesday, March 4th to consider changes to the Right-to-Work bill, although it's nearly certain that none will be adopted. Republicans who control the Assembly agreed to hold the meeting Wednesday in negotiations with Democrats who objected to the original plan that did not include holding an executive session on the measure.
Assembly Democrats, in a press release issued to FOX6 News have outlined four amendments Democrats on the Assembly's Labor Committee will offer in the next executive session, including: a 90-day delay to give businesses more certainty and time to finalize any contracts; removing criminal penalties so business owners don’t face jail time and a $10,000 fine; restoring the preamble which emphasizes the importance of labor peace; and sunsetting the law if wages drop.
“Democrats on the Labor Committee plan to offer simple, common-sense amendments to this bill. We hope that Republicans will join us in making these simple changes to the ‘Right to Work’ bill that will make reasonable accommodations for businesses that would need to adjust to drastic, immediate changes to our state law," Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) said.
The Right-to-Work bill passed the Senate last week, so if the Assembly changes it the Senate will have to vote again.
Governor Walker told business leaders Wednesday he is committed to the fast-tracked schedule and plans to sign the bill into law on Monday.
"By Monday, I'll be able to sign into law something that will make Wisconsin the 25th state in the nation that says you have the freedom to work anywhere you want without having to be part of a labor union or not," Governor Walker said.
Walker didn't take questions from the media after his remarks Wednesday, but he told the gathered business leaders he viewed Right-to-Work as giving them one more tool to make Wisconsin's business climate more competitive.
- Contact your representative in the Wisconsin Assembly
- Explanation: What exactly is Right-to-Work legislation?
- “Right-to-Work” states map
- READ IT: Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce testimony on Right-to-Work
- “The political center of the universe:” What lies ahead for politics in Wisconsin in 2015?
- CLICK HERE for further Right-to-Work coverage via FOX6Now.com.