Gov. Scott Walker Says He Won't Pursue or Reject Right-to-Work
Despite first authoring a right-to-work bill 20 years ago, Gov. Walker said pursuing the legislation now would be a distraction, but he also wouldn't reject it if a bill came across his desk.
**Updated 2:40 p.m., Dec. 12
Legislators in Michigan Tuesday passed right-to-work legislation, and folks on both sides of the issue here in Wisconsin were watching closely.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder told NBC News that he supports collective bargaining, but forcing employees — public or private — to join a union and/or pay union dues was taking away workers' freedom of choice. The two bills he signed bans making union membership a condition of employment for both public and private workers.
Protests in Lansing certainly looked familiar to Wisconsin residents. With shouts of "Shame on you" aimed at lawmakers and crowds clogging the state capitol, some Wisconsinites probably experienced a sense of deja vu.
Here in Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker told reporters Wednesday in Pewaukee that he will not actively pursue right-to-work legislation here because it would be a distraction away from focusing on job creation.
In an email to Patch Thursday, a spokesperson for Walker confirmed that RTW takes attention away from the governor's agenda.
"Governor Walker is focused on his budget priorities: creating jobs, developing our workforce, transforming education, reforming government, and investing in infrastructure. Anything outside of that is a distraction from the agenda the Governor has laid out," Deputy Communications Director Julie Lund wrote.
Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, is Speaker of the Assembly and he said he has no plans to introduce right-to-work legislation when lawmakers return to Madison in January.
Recovering from the recall elections is another reason Walker isn't interested in rocking Wisconsin workers' boat right now, and he defended Act 10 as standing up for state taxpayers.
"We really didn't target unions, what we did was stand up for taxpayers," he said during a Tuesday visit to Grand Chute.
Maureen Martin is a senior fellow for legal affairs with the Heartland Institute and is a Wisconsin resident. Overwhelmingly, top staffers there support right-to-work.
“And all of the taxpayers in this country paid for the destruction to the Michigan auto industry brought to its knees by union overreaching. Despite these subsidies, GM still went through bankruptcy and has not yet recovered," she wrote in a written statement from the Institute. "Yet automakers in right-to-work states are thriving. The handwriting is on the wall; the teachers evidently can’t read.”
Wisconsin state Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, opposes right to work legislation because, he said, employees can benefit from a union's representation without paying for it.
"Unions work to get a fair deal for the employees they represent so if workers aren't paying dues, they aren't paying for representation they benefit from," he said.
Plus, he added, arguments supporting right-to-work prove empty when fair share rules are in place so that employees only pay for collective bargaining.
"There's no good argument to be had then for right-to-work," Lehman added.