State Republican leaders announced Friday that the Legislature will meet in a special session to pass right-to-work legislation. Despite urging his colleagues to delay a vote on the issue in previous statements, Gov. Scott Walker indicated Friday he will sign the bill if it reaches his desk.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said he believes he has enough votes to pass the bill next week.
“I was able to come up with the votes we needed to move forward next week,” Fitzgerald said in a press conference. “We expect to hit the floor on Wednesday and debate the bill and message it over to the Assembly.”
Despite calling it a “clean bill,” Fitzgerald acknowledged the potential for widespread pushback, saying he has his “fingers crossed as to whether something is going to happen like Act 10,” referencing the large protests in 2011 that led to an attempted recall of Walker.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said the proposed bill would benefit the state’s economy.
“Wisconsin should be a right-to-work state,” Vos said in a statement. “The public widely supports worker freedom and the potential positive impact to the state’s economy can no longer be ignored.”
Wisconsin would be the 25th state to pass right-to-work legislation, which prohibits making union membership a condition of hiring. According to Fitzgerald, the bill would immediately take effect upon being signed into law.
The decision has met opposition from state Democrats and labor leaders.
“There is broad agreement among workers, businesses and everyday citizens that Right to Work is wrong for Wisconsin,” Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said in a statement.
The state branch of the AFL-CIO also condemned the proposed legislation, calling it a “false promise for Wisconsin.”
“Every worker suffers when states enact anti-worker Right to Work laws,” Phil Neuenfeldt, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, said in a press release. “Rushing this legislation through in an extraordinary session is a slap in the face to our democracy."