As Wisconsin lawmakers begin the process of debating right-to-work legislation this week at the Capitol, questions remains about what kind of pushback from the public they may experience.
The legislation, which would prohibit employers from requiring union membership as a condition of employment, is set for a marathon run in the Senate this week. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday and debate in the chamber is tentatively set to start on Wednesday. If approved, the Assembly would then take up the bill next week.
While the proposal is expected to draw protesters to the Capitol, there are doubts about whether the crowds will reach the tens of thousands seen four years ago when Republicans pushed through legislation that stripped most public employee unions of their collective bargaining powers. Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald said last week that “it’s pretty difficult to say…what this bill will bring, as far as participation from the public.”
Despite those unknowns, Fitzgerald said the Legislature has been in contact with Capitol Police to prepare for the potential of large demonstrations. Even if the crowds do show up though, Fitzgerald said they plan to move ahead with taking up the bill as planned.
Union groups spent most of the weekend organizing efforts to fight against the legislation. The state AFL-CIO announced plans for rallies outside the Capitol at noon on Tuesday and Wednesday, while a public hearing that starts Tuesday is also expected to attract a long list of individuals to testify on the proposal.