After more than eight hours of debate, the Wisconsin Senate passed an historic right-to-work bill, 17-15, and moved the bill on to the Assembly, where Republicans hold a much larger majority. Gov. Scott Walker has said he will sign the bill, if it comes to his desk.
Wisconsin has proudly proclaimed its status as the “birthplace of the labor movement.” Currently, paying union dues can be a condition of employment, both for public and private jobs, in Wisconsin. The right-to-work bill being considered by legislators would only remove the requirement to pay dues as a condition of private-sector employment; current contracts are unaffected, and employees would still free to join labor unions.
The Assembly is expected to take up the right-to-work legislation next week. Labor unions, which have protested inside and outside the Wisconsin State Capitol at levels last seen in 2011 during debate of Act 10, the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, which impacted collective bargaining, compensation, retirement, health insurance, and sick leave of public sector employees.