Unions Trying to Appeal Right-to-Work Law
By Emily Davies, WSAW-TV (Channel 7)
The fight against Right-to-Work is not over yet, unions are trying to appeal the new law in a last-ditch effort to get their opinions through to politicians.
Some union members claim funding will diminish, which could hamper training programs and other benefits unions provide to people like veterans.
On Monday, several veterans were learning to tie knots as part of a six week training class called the Veterans in Piping Program to introduce them to the trade and get them into the workforce.
Randy Michaels served six years in the Air Force and Jeremiah Reinwand served in the Army for seven years. They are both in the program and said it is tough for former military service members to find jobs after duty.
"It's very difficult," said Reinwand. "I was working at Oshkosh Truck, got laid off after 18 months and then went to another employer, got laid off again. So, I'm definitely looking at something to support my family."
"Especially, when you get out of the military and a lot of times military jobs don't translate into a civilian-life job," added Michaels.
They said this program was a godsend and did not cost them a dime to participate.
"This training is completely free," said Reinwand. "The only thing that we've had to cover is our travel from each union."
"If they're not college material, they can jump into a trade and make a fair and decent living with benefits, health insurance, pensions. "
Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Local 18 Union Leader Craig Wagner said they are going to make sure all people going through any training will be qualified to work, but with expected lower membership due to Right-to-Work, there will have to be cuts.
"We're going to have to adjust," he said, "but it's unfortunate that the men and women and our future kids that are coming up through the trades are going to have to suffer throughout the years."
Governor Scott Walker said Right-to-Work will be a good thing for the state.
"Overall, businesses and construction and others have done very well and so while there are a few out there that made the point of light, I think the past experience over the last couple of years in the Midwest is that it's been good for workers, it's been good for employers, it's been good for the state."
Union leaders, however say it is going to ruin the middle class as well as hurt Wisconsin businesses.
"We already saw a construction company say they're going to expand in Minnesota, not Wisconsin," said Representative Katrina Shankland (D - Stevens Point). "We want our businesses to expand and create jobs here. We want our workers to have a strong and educated workforce and be able to have a good job with a strong, living wage here in Wisconsin."
When asked about Black River Falls-based Hoffman Construction Co.' s announcement, Walker did not directly answer the question. Instead, he said Badger Meter, a clean water technologies plant, where he signed the bill into law, just opened a new line in Wisconsin because of Right-to-Work.
"They made a committment, they're not only adding the line, they're not going to change the wages and benefits, so for the detractors out there, that's a prime example," said Walker. "It just gives them the confidence that they're going to be able to add work, add employment and continue to have high wages in the State of Wisconsin."