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Right to Work Legislation
In the past month, I have heard from constituents across the 17th senate district on all sides of the Right to Work issue. After considering this input, I supported the proposed Right to Work law and voted for it. If you would like to read the exact language of the bill and the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) analysis that will tell you exactly what the bill does – please follow this link: http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2015/related/proposals/sb44.pdf

Why did I vote for SB 44? - I am a strong believer in workplace freedom. Workers should have the ability to choose whether or not it is in their best interest to belong to a union. If individuals believe that the union organization adequately represents them, it should be the choice of the employee to voluntarily pay dues to the labor organization.

There are many unions in our state that serve their members well, including several in the 17th senate district. These unions provide cutting-edge training, fair representation for all workers and positive working relationships with employers. However, there are some unions that do not provide these types of services and there are workers who would prefer to speak for themselves rather than being forced to pay dues without a voice.

I truly believe that the unions that are providing high quality services and have positive relationships with their workers and employers will continue to flourish in our state. I also firmly believe that every worker should have a voice and a choice when it comes to their employment.

Right to Work is also a jobs issue. Surveys have shown that the majority of businesses consider Right to Work as an important factor in their site selection processes. The 17th senate district borders the state of Iowa, which is a right to work state. The state of Iowa Economic Development Authority lists its status as a Right to Work state as a benefit on their website. Right to Work states experience higher economic growth, wage increases, and manufacturing GDP than forced union states.

One of my priorities is bringing businesses with good-paying jobs to Wisconsin. I believe that by passing Right to Work laws in Wisconsin, we are creating a better place to foster economic growth and giving power back to the individual worker.

Addressing concerns about the bill - Following are the common concerns that have been shared with me about this legislation over the last several days:

1. SB 44 is Union Busting – This is incorrect. SB 44 allows a worker to decide whether or not they want to join a union at their workplace. It removes union-membership as a condition of employment. In other words – you don’t have to be a member of a union and pay dues to work in a place where a union represents the workers.

If workers WANT a union – they are able to be members and form a union in any company. If workers want the services provided by the union and want a union to continue representing them, there is nothing in this law that prohibits this practice to continue.

SB 44 does not dissolve unions. SB 44 does not make unions illegal. SB 44 does not make unions less influential. SB 44 does not take away the rights of unions to represent workers. SB 44 simply makes union membership optional.

2. SB 44 is government intrusion into private industry – Actually, SB44 removes government from a person’s relationship with their employer when it comes to forced union membership. By giving a worker the choice whether to be a part of a union or not, this legislation actually increases the private nature of the relationship between a worker and their employer.

Under current law, companies with unions are forced – by the government – to ignore the individual voices of workers and defer to unions. Companies are forced – by law – to extract dues from a worker’s paycheck. SB 44 gives the individual the choice whether they want to pay dues or not.

3. SB 44 is an attack on the middle class – This legislation provides a choice to workers (of all income levels) to make their own decisions with regard to union membership. Members who do not choose to continue membership in a union will not be forced to continue paying dues. I fail to see how giving a worker the freedom of choice is an attack. If anything, SB 44 gives able-bodied, educated, literate, intelligent people a choice and a voice to speak for themselves if they so choose.

4. SB 44 gives companies the advantage and will allow companies to hurt their workers. – This legislation does not dissolve unions. It does not give a company new rights or advantages over workers. SB 44 gives the WORKER a choice whether to be a part of a union or not. If the worker has an advantage by being a part of a union, they can remain as such.

However, there are many workers who do not feel that they are being served by the union that they are currently FORCED to pay dues to. SB 44 gives these workers the choice to be a member – or not.

Some unions may decide to create new programs, improve initiatives and provide better customer-service to retain membership. This is up to them. As I said before, there are many good unions in our state who are already providing extreme value to their members and they will not have to re-tool in order to be relevant.

5. SB 44 will decrease the pay of workers in our state – Again, this legislation does not impact existing contracts, relationships between unions and employers or relationships between unions and workers who choose to be members. If workers at a specific company choose to be part of a union – and negotiate contracts together – they can do so. However, if an individual worker chooses NOT to be a part of the union, they will be able to negotiate their pay on their own. If a worker believes that the union will do a better job in negotiating their pay, it is their choice whether they will remain a member.

6. SB 44 forces unions to represent “free-riders” (those who do not pay union dues) – This legislation does not force unions to represent those who are not members. If, however, a union seeks exclusivity in a company, they may choose to negotiate this item in their agreement with the company. If, however, a union does not negotiate for exclusivity, workers may bring another union into a company or represent themselves and a union may choose to avoid this potential competition. Ultimately, the breadth of representation is purely up to the union’s discretion.

It is my hope that the information in this response will help you to understand why I voted for the legislation and how it will truly impact residents of our state.

In the District


88th Anniversary of the Dodgeville Kiwanis Club
On Monday, I had the opportunity to present the Dodgeville Kiwanis Club with a proclamation celebrating their 88 years of service to the community and also join them in a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Kiwanis International Club. Thank you for all of the work you do for the community!


*Pictured are: Myself, Dodgeville Kiwanis President (and Iowa County Sheriff) Steve Michek, and Representative Todd Novak.

Helpful Information

Length of Time to Earn a Degree at the UW System
I found it interesting to see the average number of semesters it took students to earn their degree at each of the UW System schools. While there has been a lot of attention paid to tuition increases over the past decade, a larger variable impacting our students’ education cost is the number of semesters it takes to earn a degree.

The below table shows the average number of fall and spring semesters in which students who graduated with bachelor’s degrees in 2011-12, the most recent year for which data was readily available, enrolled.

The total cost of the degree to the student would depend on a number of factors including whether the student took any time off (which would mean the student started earlier and thus paid a lower tuition rate in his or her first semesters), whether the student enrolled part-time in one or more semesters (which would mean the student paid less than the full-time tuition rate), and whether the student lived on campus, off campus, or with family while enrolled.

Average Semesters to Degree for 2011-12 Graduates


Semesters to Degree

Madison 8.5
Milwaukee 9.7
Eau Claire 9.1
Green Bay 9.0
La Crosse 8.9
Oshkosh 9.6
Parkside 10.2
Platteville 9.3
River Falls 9.0
Stout 9.2
Superior 9.1
Whitewater 9.0
UW System Total 9.3

*Source: Legislative Fiscal Bureau

Revenue Numbers: January 2015

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) recently released a report detailing the general purpose revenue (GPR) taxes collected by the agency for the month of January. Year to date collections are for the first seven months of the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015.

Collections to Date
Revenue Source FY 2014 FY 2015 % Change
General Sales & Use 2,402,347 2,523,481  5.0%
Corporate 502,044 458,463 -8.7%
Excise Taxes 370,263 359,341 -2.9%
Other 218,538 226,879 3.8%

*Source: Wisconsin Department of Revenue, February 2015

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