Union Leaders Vow to Fight Walker on Right to Work

CHICAGO (Bloomberg News/TNS) -
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker talks at his table before President Barack Obama arrives to speak to members of the National Governors Association, Monday, in the State Dining Room of White House in Washington.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker talks at his table before President Barack Obama arrives to speak to members of the National Governors Association, Monday, in the State Dining Room of White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

More than a dozen Wisconsin labor leaders said anti-union legislation supported by Gov. Scott Walker is being rushed through the legislature to discourage discussion.

“If right to work was any good for this state, we wouldn’t see it being tried to pass this quickly, with limited debate in an attempt to circumvent democracy,” Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, said Monday during a news conference in Madison, the state capital.

Republican leaders said Friday that they planned to call up the bill this week and union and other groups plan protests in Madison for Tuesday and Wednesday. The confrontation is set as Walker, 47, looks to build his standing ahead of a likely campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Four years ago, he battled to restrict collective bargaining for public workers, setting off weeks of protests that overran the Capitol.

The latest legislation would allow employees in private workplaces to opt out of paying union dues, weakening budgets and membership. Such laws are popular among Republicans and business leaders.

Union membership in Wisconsin represented 11.7 percent of its workforce in 2014, down from 12.3 percent a year earlier, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Wisconsin’s Senate is expected to take up the legislation this week, followed by the Assembly next week. Both chambers are controlled by Republicans and Walker has said he will sign the bill.

Twenty-four states already have right-to-work laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.