MADISON (WITI) — Republican leadership in Madison say they will call for an "extraordinary session" next week at the State Capitol. It will be dedicated solely to the passage of "Right-to-Work" legislation.
"Right-to-Work" prohibits unions at private companies from requiring workers to join the union -- or from having to pay dues in order to have representation. Supporters say it would make Wisconsin more inviting to employers.
"My experience as leader is when you have the votes, you go to the floor, you don`t wait around," said State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau.
Fitzgerald says Republicans are fast-tracking "Right-to-Work" legislation because right now, he has the 17 votes necessary to pass the measure in the Senate. Fitzgerald says by waiting, he risks losing one of those votes.
"We haven't seen the bill yet, they haven't introduced it, even though they're calling for passing it next week in the State Senate; now how outrageous is that?" said State Rep. Peter Barca of Kenosha.
Barca says "Right\-to-Work" would hurt workers because weakening a union makes it easier for a company to pay workers less.
A study by the Economic Policy Institute concluded that on average, wages are lower in "Right-to-Work" states. However, supporters point to studies like the one from Hofstra University, which determined "Right-to-Work" states are more attractive to companies.
"This is something that could jump-start the state's economy and create jobs we're losing to other states," said Fitzgerald.
"When you diminish the buying power of the middle class, it hurts every small business," said Barca.
For years, Gov. Scott Walker refused to say whether he would sign a "Right-to-Work" bill. During his campaign for re-election, he even called it a distraction. But on Friday, February 20th, a statement from the governor's office said Walker would sign the bill.
When the session begins next week, Republicans say they are prepared for protests similar to the ones seen during the Act 10 debate.
During the Act 10 debate, you may remember Senate Democrats fled to Illinois to prevent a vote from taking place. Because there is no fiscal note attached to the "Right-to-Work" legislation, that is not an option for Democrats.
- Explanation: What exactly is Right-to-Work legislation?
- Group launches push for "Right-to-Work" legislation in Wisconsin
- "The political center of the universe:" What lies ahead for politics in Wisconsin in 2015?
- FAQs about “Right-to-Work”
- “Right-to-Work” states map
- Wisconsin AFL-CIO