From “distraction” to done deal. Just over a year ago, a newly re-elected Governor Scott Walker referred to right-to-work as a distraction from the budget and other issues he considered a priority. “You know, every year there are hundreds if not a thousand or more bills that are introduced or proposed, and this is one that apparently a few members will be introducing,” Walker said. “My hope is the focus will still be the things I laid out in the campaign.”
But Walker’s lack of enthusiasm did not match the attitudes of majority Republicans in the legislature, who quickly backed a bill to lock employers from requiring union membership as a condition of employment. “All 17 Senators that support the bill right now are convinced that this could be a game changer for the state of Wisconsin,” said Senate Republican Leader, Senator Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau).
“The business community is speaking with a very strong voice on this issue,” said Scott Manley with Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. “They see at was of the most important factors we can do to improve our business climate.”
But not all businesses were supportive: Steve Lyons was spokesman for the Wisconsin Contractor Coalition. “We agree with Governor Walker when he calls it a distraction, we agree with editorial boards,” Lyons said. “All of these folks scratching their heads saying ‘this is a solution in search of a problem.'”
With the bill on a fast track to Walker’s desk, union members and supporters rallied in freezing February temperatures. After a day long public hearing, the bill went on to passage in the Senate and Assembly, and in March Walker signed the bill at Badger Meter in Brown Deer.
“This is one more big tool to help places like Badger Meter make the case — when they can put jobs anywhere around the world — that Wisconsin is the right place, because Wisconsin yet again is showing that ‘Wisconsin is Open for Business’ is more than just a slogan.”
Later that month, a Dane County judge denied a request to block the new right-to-work law from taking effect.