Participants march in a rally against a «right-to-work» proposal, on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, in Madison, Wis. Thousands of Wisconsin union workers rallied at the Capitol Saturday to protest a «right-to-work» proposal that would outlaw the mandatory payment of union dues. (Wisconsin State Journal/Steve Apps)
On Saturday, the Wisconsin AFL-CIO is rallying thousands of workers from around the state at the state capitol against the impending adoption of the law that would ban private sector workers from being required to join a union or pay dues.
The Wisconsin AFL-CIO says the protesters will also demand an apology from Governor Scott Walker after he said fighting against 100,000 protesters during the Act 10 debates in 2011 prepared him to battle terrorists as president. Walker made the comment at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Thursday.
Late Wednesday night, the Wisconsin Republican-led state Senate voted 17–15 to advance a «right to work» bill that has been widely criticized as harmful to the working families of the state. Thousands rallied in Madison outside the Wisconsin Capitol on Tuesday and Wednesday in opposition to the legislation.
The bill would make Wisconsin the 25th state to adopt a so-called «right-to-work» law. It is supported by Governor Scott Walker, a likely GOP presidential candidate.
Walker became a favorite of the Republican Party in 2011 when he pushed for a law to limit the power of public sector unions shortly after becoming governor. He survived a union-backed recall election in 2012.
Saturday’s rally comes four years to the month after massive demonstrations at the state capitol by workers opposed to the limits then under consideration covering most unionized public sector workers.
Union members chanted «shame» as senators voted narrowly to approve the law on Wednesday and moved it to the state Assembly, also controlled by Republicans, where a public hearing is scheduled for Monday.
State Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D) summed up the effects of the bill: “This bill is going to drive down family wages. Period.” UAW member John Drew condemned the legislation as “a political attack on labor, dressed up as an issue of worker freedom. They want to beat us down, brothers and sisters. This is politics, pure and simple.”
Republican leaders couldn’t even convince all of the members of their own party of the merits of the legislation. State Sen. Jerry Petrowski (R) voted against the bill: “I am not convinced that the supposed benefits of passing this bill will materialize and offset a potentially disruptive impact on our economy.” He was the only Republican who stood and spoke in support of the legislation. The public wasn’t convinced, either. More than 1,750 Wisconsinites submitted comments or registered to speak against the bill at the hearing. Only 25 were in favor.
The full Assembly is expected to vote on the measure within a week and Walker’s office has indicated he will sign the bill.