The influence of powerful private labor unions has dwindled over the past few decades as states in the South, Great Plains, and Rocky Mountains have passed right-to-work laws — legislation that prohibits unions from forcing workers to pay fees to the union against their will. The Great Lakes region is starting to follow suit as both Indiana and Michigan have signed right-to-work laws after Republicans gained control of the state legislatures in 2010. Wisconsin now joins them, as Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed the bill into law this week.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:
In a matter of weeks, Republicans pushed through the measure making Wisconsin the 25th state with such a law, giving a victory to manufacturers in the state and a blow to organized labor and some construction firms, which had opposed the measure.
The passage marks a shift in the GOP governor’s position that comes as he pursues an all but certain presidential run. Walker said repeatedly during the intense battle over Act 10 — his 2011 law that repealed most collective bargaining for public workers — that he would not let legislation affecting private-sector unions reach his desk.
Walker signed the bill at the Milwaukee factory of Badger Meter Inc. in Milwaukee, saying it represented “one more big tool” for attracting businesses and investment to the state. With the passage of the law, Badger Meter has said it would start making a new product line at the plant, hiring twelve workers in the coming months with the potential to hire more.
“This sends a powerful message across the country and across the world,” Walker said. “‘Wisconsin is Open For Business’ now is more than just a slogan. It’s a way of doing business.”
Read more at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.