Walker says right-to-work key factor in attracting businesses

Following the state Senate’s approval of the right-to-work bill on Feb. 25, Gov. Scott Walker told reporters the next day that it is one more tool manufacturers have to make the case to come to Wisconsin.

Walker, who addressed reporters after his speech at the Feb. 26 Manufacturing Matters! conference held at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee, said reports from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation indicate that site selectors say right-to-work legislation is among the top considerations.

“It is indeed one of the things particularly manufacturing entities around the country and around the world look at when they choose where to put their sites,” he said. “It may not be the reason you get it, but more often than not it’s a disqualifier if you don’t.”  

Right-to-work laws are in place in 24 states. The laws prohibit businesses and unions from reaching labor agreements that require workers to pay union dues. The Wisconsin bill would impose criminal penalties on employers that agree to contracts that require union dues.

Democrats have repeatedly accused Republicans of “ramming through” the bill, but Walker called the accusation of moving it through too quickly and without enough debate a “hollow argument.”

“The people who made that argument are the people who voted for a budget repair bill that raised taxes, had no public hearing, and did it I believe in less than 48 hours,” he said. “To me, this had a lengthy debate.”

As for the future of Wisconsin unions, the governor said those that provide real value to their members will remain strong.

“If the unions provide training through their union dues, and people see it as an asset, they’ll do it,” he said. “If it’s coming separately from their employer, they may question it. It all depends on how they’re set up.”

To Walker, the right-to-work bill is just one issue among many in which he believes people will be interested at the Conservative Political Action Conference he is attending today in Washington, D.C. He said his focus at CPAC, considered to be the unofficial start of the GOP presidential primary season, will be job creation, reform and safety.

Walker said he has always been in support of right-to-work legislation in Wisconsin, but bringing it forward was a matter of priority and timing. Now is the appropriate time, he said, as in his first term employers and job creators needed stability.

When asked if it is a good sign for a possible presidential run that his message is resonating, Walker said he likes the fact that people are paying attention, but acknowledged there is a long way to go.

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