Union leaders from across Wisconsin say they are standing together in solidarity to fight proposed right-to-work legislation.
Republican lawmakers are hoping to fast-track a bill this week that would prohibit making union membership or paying dues a condition of employment. A public hearing before a state Senate committee is scheduled to start on Tuesday morning, with a vote in the full Senate coming as early as Wednesday night.
Speaking to reporters at press conference in Madison Monday morning, representatives from multiple unions stressed the importance of challenging the proposal at the Capitol and reaching out to lawmakers who might be willing to reconsider their support for the bill. Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt called right-to-work “an attack on all Wisconsin families,” and argued that “when solidarity is eroded, it’s the entire middle class who suffers.”
Neuenfeldt’s comments were echoed by a long list of other labor leaders, which included public sector employees who were targeted by Republicans four years ago during a divisive battle over legislation that stripped many of them of their collective bargaining powers. AFSCME Council 24 executive director Marty Beil called right-to-work “another chapter in the Republican juggernaut.”
Republican backers of the bill maintain right-to-work is a key step in attracting new businesses to the state. Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said his members are “convinced that this could be a game changer for Wisconsin.”
Union groups have planned noon rallies on the Capitol steps for Tuesday and Wednesday, and will also be urging members to fill a public hearing on the bill that’s set to run for nine hours at the Capitol on Tuesday. A vote in the state Senate could come as early as Wednesday evening, with the Assembly expected to pick up the debate next week.