Right-to-work bill to move to state Assembly on Monday

By David Schuman, WAOW-TV (Channel 9)


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The right-to-work bill is moving on to the state Assembly where it will be debated Monday.


Thousands gathered in Madison this weekend to protest the bill's passage.


If the Assembly votes strictly along party lines, with Republicans in favor and Democrats against, the right-to-work bill would easily get to Governor Scott Walker's desk.


But it's not a done deal.


Democrats say there are ways to slow the fast-tracked piece of legislation.


State Representative Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) says people should contact their representatives and the governor to voice their opinion on right-to-work. "1,751 people came to Madison to testify against it, and 25 people came to Madison to testify for it," she said. "They feel like right-to-work takes away their fair shot."


But right-to-work support in the government is strong, including from Governor Walker.


"It's one more arrow in the quiver," Walker said. "It's one more tool that manufacturers have to make the case about growing here or coming here in the first place."


State Senator Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said during the Senate's debates on the bill, "The bottom line is to move our state forward. Wisconsin needs a modern economy."


Some Democrats say right-to-work would be harmful to Wisconsin's workforce.


"In right-to-work states, the average wage of workers is $5,000 to $6,000 per year less than in non-right-to-work states," Shankland said.


She points to Senator Jerry Petrowski of Marathon as evidence that not all Republicans are sold on right-to-work.


Petrowski was the only Republican to vote against the bill last week.


He said in a statement "I am not convinced that the supposed benefits of passing this bill will materialize and offset a potentially disruptive impact on our economy."


Shankland said, "I would hope that on Monday at the public hearing that it's actually a deliberative public hearing, not a symbolic one, where people's voices are heard." 


After Monday's hearing, the Assembly will vote on the bill Thursday.


If it passes, Walker would then decide whether to sign it. He has said he would sign it.