Gov. Scott Walker signed the right-to-work bill on March 9 at water meter manufacturer Badger Meter Inc.’s Brown Deer headquarters.
The right-to-work bill was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) in late February and was quickly moved through the state Legislature.
The controversial bill, which prohibits businesses and unions from reaching labor agreements that require workers to pay union dues, spurred protests and a premature shutdown of debate during a state Senate committee hearing.
Supporters say it’s about worker freedom and that right-to-work will make Wisconsin more attractive to businesses looking to move in or expand.
However, opponents say the goal of the law is to destroy labor unions, which would hurt the economy, lower wages and endanger workplace safety.
“Gov. Walker has put our state on the national landscape for job creation and business expansion by signing right-to-work legislation today,” said Kurt Bauer, president and chief executive officer of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, which listed right-to-work as a top policy reform on its agenda. “Gov. Walker’s visionary leadership on reforming government unions, and now providing workplace freedom to private sector workers, has made our state a national leader in expanding economic freedom and prosperity for our citizens.”
Marc Perrone, international president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, released a statement opposing the legislation.
“Every elected leader has a sacred responsibility to stand up for America’s hard-working families and to help them achieve a better life. Higher wages, better benefits, equal pay for equal work, protection from discrimination and exploitation; those are the rights that unions offer and which we fight for every single day. These are the true rights that Governor Scott Walker wants to take away from the union men and women who work hard, sacrifice, and help make Wisconsin and America a better place.“
Wisconsin is the 25th state to approve private sector right-to-work legislation.