FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2015
Statement from Senator Larson on Walker Signing RTW Legislation
Governor Walker flip-flops on RTW, signs the bill, and refuses to talk to reporters in process
MADISON – The following is a statement from Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) on Governor Walker signing the highly controversial and regressive “Right to Work” legislation this morning, essentially silencing the voices of thousands of Wisconsin workers and small business owners, who opposed this bill and pleaded with the governor to veto a bill that attacks all of Wisconsin’s working families.
“I am extremely disappointed that Governor Walker signed this horribly regressive bill into law today, which will have a negative impact on Wisconsin’s working families. Less than one year ago, Governor Walker called RTW a distraction, not a priority, and said that he would do everything in his power to prevent the bill from getting to his desk. But now, shortly after being sworn into his second term, he flip flopped on the issue and betrayed the people that elected him. Worse, he refused to listen to thousands of citizens and hundreds of business leaders who oppose this law. To add injury to insult, after signing RTW into law, the governor refused to answer any questions from the media. Unfortunately, this refusal to take ownership for his backwards priorities is becoming an all too common frustration from the citizens of Wisconsin.
“Let me quickly remind everyone what we saw during the senate committee process. We know that most, if not all, of the speakers in favor of this dangerous bill had received money from the ultra-conservative Bradley Foundation. We also know there were no local chambers of commerce, individual businesses, or union workers who came out in favor of RTW. In fact, in the Senate alone, there were 1,751 speakers and registrants in opposition to the bill and less than 3% in support.
“The facts are, states with RTW laws have lower worker wages, diminished worker health and safety, and, at the same time, increased poverty and workplace fatalities. In addition, eight of the 12 states with the highest unemployment rates are RTW states, What’s more, by WMC’s own admission, less than 7% of their members came out in favor of this regressive legislation. Wisconsin businesses recognize how damaging this bill is. We even heard from a coalition of more than 440 local businesses who oppose this law and know firsthand the value of working in collaboration with workers not against them.
“We also know that the governor and Republicans were unable and unwilling to answer important questions about provisions of the bill – such as how players on the Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Brewers (who belong to unions) would be prevented from being charged with a class A misdemeanor, which could lead to up to nine months in jail and up to a $10,000 fine. They refused to tell the public if this legislation would jeopardize federal transportation dollars. Under federal law, transit employees are required to maintain certain benefits, like collective bargaining. It is unclear if RTW will violate federal law as some transit systems are operated privately and employ private labor unions. They even refused to share who in our state had requested this legislation.
“So once again, Republicans have decided to fast-track legislation, and put the priorities of Koch brothers, regressive think tanks, and corporate special interests before the people of Wisconsin.
“This is a sad day for Wisconsin and puts us in the race to the bottom. The governor’s actions are simply wrong for Wisconsin.”