Wisconsin Assembly passes Right-to-Work bill on party line vote

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MADISON (WITI) — It took 24 hours, but the state Assembly has passed a Right-to-Work bill. With the governor's signature, Wisconsin will become the 25th state to adopt the controversial legislation.

The vote was divided strictly along party lines. Prior to that vote, a 24-hour debate session, an all-nighter at the Capitol. Even on that, republicans and democrats couldn't agree on how to best spend that time.

A debate can go in a number of directions over the course of 24 hours. Starting Thursday morning, the Wisconsin Assembly debates Right-to-Work, which would make it illegal for union membership, or the payment of union dues, to be a condition of employment.

The democrats, outnumbered, spend the vast majority of the afternoon and evening pushing to send the bill to the small business committee and thereby avoiding a final vote -- much to the dismay of republicans.

"18 hours of debate about a referral as opposed to a real, meaningful, spirited, engaging debate that the public in Wisconsin deserved," said Assembly Speaker, Robin Vos.

Opponents argue the bill provides false protection, that those who don't want to join a union can choose to work in a non-union shop or change the union from within.

"If you don't like your union, you can run for office in that union, you can even get half the unit to decertify the union and the union goes away," said State Representative Cory Mason.

Supporters of the bill say a worker's choice should be far more simple.

"It is about one simple thing, giving every worker who wants to be in a union the right to be in one but if they don't want to choose to be in a union, they can't be compelled," said Vos.

Democrats argue the problem with that logic is it will sink unions because down the road, only a fraction of the workers they will represent will choose to pay dues.

"If you have a gym membership, and all of a sudden you stopped paying but you were able to still go, would you stop going to the gym? I don't think you would," said State Representative Mandela Barnes.

Republicans point to Indiana, where union membership increased after it passed Right-to-Work.

After a final hour of debate, lawmakers record a final tally -- the bill passed on Friday on a 62-35 vote.

"We're now gonna be number 25 and that is awesome," said State Representative Chris Kapenga.

The Wisconsin state Assembly has passed a right-to-work bill on a straight party line vote.

The bill passed Friday on a 62-35 vote, with all Republicans in support and all Democrats against. The Senate passed it last week.

Democrats had initially hoped to amend the bill so that Right-to-Work wouldn't take effect for another 3 months. However, the bill will be effective once the governor signs it.

Violation of the law is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 9 months in jail.

Critics argue that is unreasonably harsh, supporters say there's no point having the law if it doesn't have teeth.

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17 comments

    • grunt

      Using that logic, if you don’t like your company or your wages or your benefits or your working conditions, go work for a different company.

    • What!

      You had to pay the union to stay out of the union, how stupid is that. I worked with a guy that was dying of cancer and had about 3 months to live he was just working to help pay his bills to take some burden off his family when he passed and they still made him pay about a 1/3 to stay out. Unfortunately he could only work a few weeks before he took a turn for the worst and the union still took money from his last check. I told myself i would never work in a union shop again and have never knew people didn’t stab each other in the back til i stopped working at union shops. Same benefits, same pay, better people and no union extortion fees for the demoncrats. Companies actually treat you better when they don’t have to deal with union thugs.

  • grunt

    Fair? Like protecting the slackers and causing me to work harder for the same pay because these freeloaders refuse to carry their weight?
    Fair? Like forcing me to pay union dues which support a political agenda I disagree with?
    Fair? Like forcing me to pay to support the union bosses?

    • Get over it

      In response to Von, WI is an “at-will” employment state, meaning when an employee isn’t doing his job it is quite easy to remove them from their job. You ought to learn state law before opening your mouth.

    • Peter

      Nobody was forcing you to do anything, you had the right to go work someplace else.
      There are slackers everywhere, maybe you shouldn’t worry so much about what other people are doing and do your own work.
      Nobody is in the voting booth with you, vote how ever you want to.

  • cynic

    Ever heard of OSHA? Department of Labor? Lawyers? Pretty sure the union’s influence over safety is obsolete and unnecessary. Now, if by safety you mean not having to work too hard and maybe be all tired and need a nappy nap, then ya, you might miss unions. If you want to be paid as much as management because you feel slighted as a worker, then ya, you might miss the unions. If you think you should be able to keep your job if you spend a week outside the front door protesting your company and driving business away, then ya, you might miss the unions.

  • get real

    Well done Republicans !
    Now Wisconsin workers will have the freedom to choose.
    It seems that Democrats learned nothing in the last election.

  • Mr. Bob

    Quoting NH – This paves the way for employer abuse. It was/is unions that help keep work places safe and fair.
    NH, you live in a fantasy world. Reality is that there are far far far more workers in America that do not belong to a union than belong to a union. Your narrow-mindedness does not allow you to acknowledge that fact as you are compelled to not think at all like all of the other union sheep. Therefore, your comment is totally illogical because if employers were now suddenly bent on abusing employees and having unsafe workplaces because the legislation was passed, they would have been abusing employees and have had unsafe workplaces long ago in the vast majority of workplaces in America which are non-union workplaces.

  • Jefferson's son ian

    Unions are communist, collectivist organizations. They are antithetical to capitalism and rational thought. The imperial federal govt. Has taken over the task of protecting workers from harm. Unions have outlived their usefulness. They destroy jobs ( by sending them overseas) thru their unrealistic wage and work rules.

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